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-Second Day: Thursday, 1st August, 1946
(Part 7 of 11)

[Page 177]

M. MONNERAY: Yes, Sir.


Q. Did you often have the impression in the course of your activity in the Gestapo that the State leadership was asking you to carry out tasks which were contrary to what you would call police duties?

[Karl Heinz Hoffmann] A. In connection with certain questions during my activity in Berlin, as well as also in Denmark later, I had the feeling that certain duties were assigned to us which were contrary to our duties as policemen; but in this connection I must remark that I could only judge these questions from the point of view of a police official and could define my attitude to things only on the basis of my knowledge as such, and I did not know what had caused the leadership to make the decisions which were transmitted to us.

Q. You did not consider as criminal, for example, the order intended for certain categories of Soviet prisoners?

A. I must honestly say that I was absolutely unable to understand such an order, particularly since it could not be explained at all by police reasons.

Q. But nevertheless the Gestapo lent itself to the execution of these orders, did it not?

A. I cannot tell you that from my own knowledge.

M. MONNERAY: I have no further questions.

DR. MERKEL: Just a few questions, Mr. President.



Q. Did the members of the Gestapo who had been assimilated into the SS by the assimilation decree come under the orders of the SS or the SD and perform their service there?

A. No. The registration in the SS was merely an outside measure, and after my formal entry into the SS in the year 1939 I did not perform any service with either the SS or the SD.

Q. In the order of protective arrest issued by the RSHA was the concentration camp already designated to which the prisoner was to be delivered?

A. I think I remember that it was, but I cannot tell you exactly.

Q. Who carried out the arrests of those people against whom an order of protective arrest had been issued, in case these people were still at liberty?

A. Either the officials of the Gestapo directly, or possibly also the constabulary and local police authorities.

Q. Who accompanied the trainloads of prisoners to the concentration camps?

A. As far as I remember, this transportation was handled by the general police administration in regular prisoner transport cars which traversed the entire Reich area according to a regular schedule.

Q. Did you or your office know anything about the true conditions existing in the concentration camps?

A. No.

THE PRESIDENT: What do you mean by "regular schedules"? Do you mean special transports or do you mean ordinary trains?

WITNESS: They were special cars for prisoners which were used by the general police administration between the individual prisons and which also carried ordinary prisoners. These cars were attached to the regular express and passenger

[Page 178]

trains, and these prisoners were also transported in these trains. And so there were no special transports.


Q. Were the concentration camps under the Gestapo?

A. No. Concentration camps were under the Inspector of Concentration Camps at Oranienburg, and as far as I know this Inspectorate was under the Administrative and Economic Office in the SS Main Office.

Q. The very document just submitted by the prosecution, 2521- PS, also speaks for this fact, does it not, since the return address is the SS Economic Administrative Main Office in Oranienburg and it is addressed to all the camp commandants of all the concentration camps?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you know about the annihilation of Jews at Auschwitz?

A. No. I only heard about these things after the ... after the surrender.

Q. Did you know that Eichmann's activity was directly connected with the biological extermination of the Jews at Auschwitz?

A. As long as I was in office ... as long as I was in office, and before the surrender, I heard nothing about problems of that kind.

Q. When was the first time that you received reliable knowledge about these things?

A. After the surrender.

DR. MERKEL: I have no further questions for the witness.


Q. Witness, you spoke of a decree under which the Gestapo were permitted to use third-degree methods in Denmark, is that right?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. Was that decree in writing?

A. That was a written decree by the head of the Security Police and the SD.

Q. And was it signed?

A. Yes.

Q. Who signed it?

A. As far as I recall, the first decree was signed by Heydrich and the second one on behalf of Muller, but I cannot say for certain about the latter -

Q. What was the date of the first decree?

A. I believe it was 1937.

Q. What month?

A. That I cannot tell you at this date.

Q. What was the date of the second decree?

A. 1942.

Q. Did you see both decrees yourself?

A. Yes.

Q. What was in the first decree?

A. The contents of the first decree provided that for the purpose of uncovering organizations hostile to the Reich, if no other means were available, the person involved could receive a certain number of blows with a stick. After a specified number, a physician had to be called in. This order could only ... could be used for extracting a confession for the conviction of one individual. Approval for this had to be obtained in every case from the chief of the Security Police and SD.

Q. Wait a minute. Was the decree limited to any particular territory, or did it cover all the occupied territories?

A. The decree of 1937 applied to the Reich territory, but I believe it later applied automatically to the activities of the Sipo in those regions where it was stationed. I cannot remember any limitations.

[Page 179]

Q. Were there any other methods of third degree which were allowed as well as the beating in this first decree?

A. No. According to the second decree only ... the only measures approved were those which were milder than blows with a stick. Standing at interrogations, or fatiguing exercises. They are enumerated in the decree, but I do not remember them all.

Q. You remembered one of them - standing up, for instance. What was the provision of the decree with respect to standing up during interrogations?

A. I personally never attended such an interrogation.

Q. I did not ask you that. I said, what was the provision with respect to standing up?

A. It only said that the order could be given that the person involved must not sit down during the interrogation but had to stand.

Q. And how long were the interrogations? How long were they actually?

A. The decree did not mention that, but -

Q. I said, how long were the interrogations? How long were they actually?

A. Well, under the circumstances, they naturally lasted very long. It was only in that way that standing up was a severe measure.

Q. Was the number of strokes that could be used mentioned in the decree? Did it say how many times a man could be struck with a stick?

A. As far as I recall, this measure could be applied only once to the same individual; that is, it could not be repeated. And the number of blows, in my opinion, was specified in the decree.

Q. And then the doctor was called?

A. No, I believe it was this way. If a fairly large number of blows was prescribed in advance, then the physician had to be present immediately.

Q. And what was the number of blows that was to be permitted, do you remember that?

A. As far as I recall, twenty, but I cannot tell you that exactly.

Q. And both decrees covered all of the German Reich, including the occupied territories, is that true?

A. Yes.

Q. And the decrees were effective in France, as well as in Denmark, is that not true?

A. Yes, later. In the second decree, the power of approval of the Chief of the Security Police was delegated to the commanders - that was in 1942.

Q. So that after that the commanders could order beatings without going to the head of the Security Police?

A. Yes, after 1942.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. MERKEL: Mr. President, I should like to make one small correction ... a little misunderstanding which I think I can clear up. While examining the witness, the Tribunal has just mentioned a commandant in the occupied territories. I should like permission to ask the witness whether he meant the commandant of the Security Police or the commander of the Security Police. They are two entirely different persons.

THE WITNESS: As far as I recall, the commander.

THE PRESIDENT: That is all. Thank you very much.

LT.-COMMANDER HARRIS: If the Tribunal please, I would like to put one question to this witness, following the questioning of the Tribunal. I believe that the witness testified that in this second decree there was no provision for beatings.

[Page 180]



Q. Did I understand you to say that, witness?

A. . No, I said beatings and ... but from now on still further measures which, however, were milder in nature than actual blows.

THE PRESIDENT: I thought, when I took it down, that he said there were milder methods in the second decree, standing up and tiring methods.

LT.-COMMANDER HARRIS: Yes, Sir; that is what I understood, but I now gather that the witness admits that under both decrees beatings were authorized, and that is all that I wish to establish.

DR. MERKEL: I have no further questions to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: What is it you want, Colonel Karev?

COLONEL KAREV: The Soviet prosecution will request the permission of the Tribunal to present new documents concerning the criminal activity of the Gestapo.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

COLONEL KAREV: First of all, I want to submit to the Tribunal Exhibit USSR 258, containing excerpts from a list of hostages shot by the German police in Yugoslavia. If the Tribunal considers it necessary I shall quote just two sentences out of this document: At the end of Paragraph 1 of this document it says: "The executions were effected according to the decisions and by order of the chiefs of the Gestapo or the SD." Then I shall draw the attention of the Tribunal to item "B" at the end of the second page, which states as follows: "According to different informations, lists, death records, etc., the following number of victims has been established up till the present time ...." I omit here a detailed enumeration of the victims and merely draw the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that 337 persons were shot or hanged in the year 1942, and at the very least 1,575 persons by the SD.

Then I submit here Exhibit USSR 465, which is the notification issued by the German police about destroying a number of villages in Slovenia and of shooting all the men of those villages for helping the partisans. I draw the Tribunal's attention just to these sentences again at the beginning of which it is said:

"On the 20th of July, 1942, the village of Krosnik and three other villages were destroyed and the male population shot. The remainder were deported, because they had helped the partisans and had carried out hostile activities against the German Reich."
One more sentence of the document:
"In addition to all the measures taken here by the Gestapo, a number of civilians had to be shot as hostages."

The third document is Exhibit USSR 416. I shall not read it. It is a list of citizens of Yugoslavia, compiled in the year 1938. The persons listed were to be arrested without any charges of crime being made against them. Near every 4,000 names listed there was a note - whether the arrested people were to be directed to the Gestapo or to the chief administration of SD of the Reich. However, this document was found in the archives of the Gestapo in Yugoslavia.

The fourth document is Exhibit USSR 418, captured from the Germans. It contains a copy of an order to the State Police in Yugoslavia with a decree of Himmler to arrest all persons who had expressed their joy in connection with the defeat of the Germans at Stalingrad.

I think, Mr. President, there is no need to read it all.

Finally there is Exhibit USSR 71. It is very brief and consists of a wire sent by the German State Police to arrest employees of the diplomatic service, attachs,

[Page 181]

diplomatic couriers, consuls, etc. The wire was sent one day prior to the German invasion of Yugoslavia, an act which was a violation of International Law.

This telegraphic message to arrest couriers, consuls, etc., is also mentioned in Exhibit USSR 316.

The last document is Exhibit USSR 518. It is the testimony of the former Lt.-General Kappe of the German Army, which states that the Gestapo killed their own collaborator, in order to conceal the fact that a special secret installation was made to overhear what was spoken by the chief. This is all that I wanted to submit.

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