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 9 of 11)

[COLONEL SMIRNOV continues his cross examination of Rolf-Heinz Hoeppner]

[Page 185]

This task to work in more of an investigatory way with the political groups on other ideological forms was not permanent either, for after a short time it became obvious that this investigatory work too belonged to the sphere of activity of the Secret State Police, because in the long run such an investigation of opponents could not remain separated from the executive branch, from the information acquired in the daily interrogations, and so forth. Therefore, these tasks were changed when a very clear division of tasks was made between the Security Service and the State Police, a division which started in the middle of 1938 and was especially carried through in the year 1939, and which was substantially ended with the creation of the Main Reich Security Office in September of 1939. After this division of tasks the task of the Security Service would have been completely eliminated if it had not been for the fact that out of this Security Service, beginning with the so-called intellectual SD in 1933 and 1934, through a special advisory section for culture and a central department for spheres of life, intelligence service ... out of this Security Service there developed the quite special task for the domestic intelligence service, namely, the task of investigating the spheres of life of the German people according to developments and informing the executive offices about the development as a whole.

THE PRESIDENT: As I said to the other counsel, we do not want these witnesses to go over exactly the same ground that they have gone through before the Commission.

We have got that evidence. We only want you to present them here in order that we may see what credibility is to be attached to their evidence and to deal with any particularly important or new subject which has not been dealt with before the Commission.

Now this witness seems to be going over exactly the same ground which he has gone over before the Commission and at great length. It is simply doing the same thing twice over.

DR. GAWLIK: As I understood it, Mr. President, I was to summarize briefly once more the results of everything which had been taken up in the Commission for longer than two days, and that is what I am doing. I am now bringing ... the witness has been examined before the Commission for two days and now perhaps I shall present that material in one to one and a half or two hours. But I thought that it was precisely these various objectives of the Security Service for each year that would be of interest to the High Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, will you try to present the summary within reasonable limits?

DR. GAWLIK: Yes, indeed, Mr. President.


Q. What can you say about the significance of the work of the SD during this period?

A. The work of the SD during this period was of almost no importance. It was primarily concerned with finding its own proper task, with establishing an

[Page 186]

intelligence network, and with locating the necessary; basic material. Particularly important is the fact that during this time the Security Service hardly appeared in public.

Q. The prosecution has declared that the SS and likewise the SD were lite groups of the Party, the most fanatical adherents of the Nazi cause, who assumed the obligation of blind loyalty to the Nazi principles and were ready to carry them out unquestioningly, at any cost. In this connection I should like to refer to the trial brief against the SS, Page 7b.

I ask you, witness, were the regular and honorary workers in the SD selected according to those principles?

A. The regular and honorary workers were selected on the basis of being capable in some professional capacity and were men of decent character.

Q. Please answer the question first of all with yes or no.

A. No.

Q. And now please give your reasons.

A. I have already said that the regular and honorary members were selected because they were capable in some professional capacity and were of good character. It was not a prerequisite for either regular or honorary co-operation that anyone had to be a Party member or belong to the SS.

Q. Did the SD do things for which no Government office or political party, not even the Nazi Party, was willing to bear the full responsibility in public?

I should like to call the attention of the High Tribunal to the trial brief against the SS, Page 7, second paragraph.

A. No.

Q. Did the SD work secretly behind the scenes in the period which you described, from its formation until 1939?

A. No. One could give a whole list of examples. First of all, the regular members wore uniforms. They had the SD insignia on their sleeves. The offices had signs and were listed in the telephone directory, etc.

Q. During the period from 1934 to 1939 did the members of the SD make a common and general agreement to participate in crimes against peace, war crimes, or crimes against humanity?

A. No.

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off?

(A recess was taken.)


Q. During the period from 1934 until 1939 did the members of the SD pursue the aim and task of supporting any individuals who had made a general and common plan for committing crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity?

A. No.

Q. Did not the SD also support this sort of thing by obtaining information on actual possible opponents of the Nazi leaders and so contributing to the destruction and neutralisation of the opposition?

A. No.

Q. Can you give reasons for your answer to the question?

A. Yes.

Q. But please be brief.

A. It was the task of the Security Service to investigate wrong developments in all spheres of life. Individual cases were examples. It was not its task to instigate proceedings against individuals with any other offices.

Q. Should not the members of the SD have been convinced by the reports on public opinion and the reports on the different spheres of life, especially after the occupation of the Rhineland until the beginning of the Second World War, that everybody in Germany was expecting war?

[Page 187]

A. On the contrary -

Q. Please, will you first answer the question with yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Now give the reasons, please.

A. I already said, quite to the contrary. During that period there was hardly anybody in Germany who expected a war, and it was these very reports on the situation in different spheres of life, in the spheres, perhaps, of food production, economy and industry, which showed that we were going to have armament to a limited extent, but not to an extent ... but in no way gave any indications that we were working towards a war of aggression.

Q. Now I come to the relation between the SD and the SS.

Was the SD always an inseparable and important part of the SS?

I refer in this connection to the German transcript of 9th December, Page 1596 of the German transcript, Page 1798 of the English transcript, where this has been alleged by the prosecution.

Please answer my question.

A. No. I should like to give the following reasons for that: After the duty of the SS to help guard the speakers at meetings and the Fuehrer was eliminated, the new task was formed and further developed from the staff of the SD, completely independent of the SS and the Reichsfuehrer SS.

Q. The prosecution has furthermore stated on Page 1759 of the English transcript, "the general SS was the basis, the root from which the various branches grew."

Will you comment on that with regard to the Domestic Intelligence Service?

A. That could not be true for the Domestic Intelligence Service because only about ten per cent of the regular workers had come from the General SS, and because at least 90 per cent. of all the honorary workers and confidential agents of the SD were neither members of the SS nor wanted to be members of the SS, nor, viewed from the standpoint of the organization, should they have belonged to the SS.

Q. Was there in the SS a uniform headquarters under which the individual main offices operated jointly, or worked together automatically in such a way that each branch of the SS fulfilled a special task within the scope of the whole?

I refer to the transcript of 19th December, 1945, Page 1749. That is the English transcript. State your opinion on this.

A. No.

Q. Give me your reasons.

A. The Reichsfuehrer SS was alone the Supreme Head of the SS. The main offices which were under him were in no way headquarters. Outwardly they represented various points of view on the same questions. They competed with each other, they were frequently jealous of each other. It was not even true that each of these main offices represented a branch which was necessary for the whole, because their duties, their jurisdictions overlapped. For instance, four or five offices shared the responsibility in questions of National Folkways (Volkstum), and it was not possible, although this very suggestion was made by the Main Reich Security Office, to grant jurisdiction to one office. Among these different main offices there was no directing office. The so-called main directing office had only to perform the functions of the Waffen-SS. If any office had claimed that leadership, all the others would have rebelled against it immediately.

Q. What was the influence of Himmler on the development of the tasks of the Domestic Intelligence Service?

A. Himmler did not have a positive influence on the development of the tasks proper of the Domestic Intelligence Service with regard to spheres of life. That task grew out of the work of the office, and it could equally well have developed in some other office. There were even a large number of cases in which

[Page 188]

the task suffered because ft was connected with one individual who was one leader among several, because it was not always possible to send reports to the office for which they were intended, via the Reichsfuehrer.

Q. In order to prove a uniform will and a planned connection between the SD and SS the prosecution referred particularly to the book by Dr. Best, The German Police, and the speech by Himmler about the organization and objectives of the SS and police. This concerns Documents PS 1852 and PS 1992. Do you know the book by Dr. Best and do you know that speech by Himmler concerning the organization and objectives of the SS and police?

A. In a general way, yes.

Q. Please give your opinion as to whether the relation between the SS and SD is described correctly in that book by Dr. Best and in the speech by Himmler?

A. This question essentially involves the clarification of the concept which in many speeches and publications was designated as "Staatsschutzkorps " (Corps for the Protection of the State), and this idea of a Staatsschutzkorps was expressed by Himmler and Heydrich very early, a little after 1936. Its description changed, but although it appeared again and again in speeches, it was never really carried out. The individual parts of this so-called "Staatsschutzkorps" of Himmler's grew independently, developed independently; they were not a unit, so that we can say here, although it was indeed Himmler's wish to create this Staatsschutzkorps, this idea never materialised.

Q. Did the Higher SS and Police Leaders also have authority to issue orders to the SD, and did they have to supervise the activity of the SD? In this connection I refer to the trial brief against the Gestapo and SD, Page 12 of the English edition, and the trial brief of the SS, Page 12 of the English edition also.

A. The Higher SS and Police Leaders had neither authority to issue orders nor did they have to supervise the SD. They were merely representatives of the Reichsfuehrer within their territories without having any actual or disciplinary jurisdiction over the Security Service. Attempts were made in that direction in connection with the above-mentioned Staatsschutzkorps, but it was the Domestic Intelligence Service itself which averted them.

Q. Now I come to the relation between the SD and the Party. What was the organisational relationship between the Domestic Intelligence Service and the political leadership of the NSDAP?

A. The Domestic Intelligence Service was an institution of the Party, but it did not belong to the organization of the political leadership. Therefore, no organisational connection existed. The proper and final task of the Domestic Intelligence Service was not given to it by the Party either. The task assigned it by the Party, as I have already mentioned, had already been essentially completed in the years 1938-39.

Q. Did the SD have the task of maintaining the Nazi leaders in power?

A. The Security Service had the task of -

Q. Can you first answer the question yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Now please give me your reasons.

A. The Security Service had a different task. It had the assignment to observe the effects of the measures taken by the leaders of the State, Party, economy and of autonomous bodies, to determine what the people were saying about them, whether the results were positive or negative, and then to inform the leaders about what it had found out.

Q. Was the Domestic Intelligence Service the espionage system of the NSDAP? Here I refer to the trial brief against the SS, Pages 8a and 8b of the English edition.

A. No. Firstly, the Security Service was not an espionage service at all. Secondly, it sent its reports to all executive offices, not only to those of the Party, but also to the executive offices of the State.

[Page 189]

Q. Now I come to the next topic of evidence, the relation between the SD and the Gestapo. Were the Gestapo and the SD a uniform police system which became constantly more closely connected?

I refer to the trial brief against the Gestapo and SD, Page 12, Pages 1, 4, 13, 18, 21 of the English edition. What was the connection between the Gestapo and SD organizations with respect to aims, tasks, activities and methods?

A. First, in answer to the first question: it was not a question of a uniform police system, since a Security Service and a police system have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The Security Service and the Secret State Police were two entirely different organizations. While the Security Service had developed from a semi-military formation (Gliederung) of the Party, the Secret State Police was a continuation of an already existing institution of the State.

While the Security Service saw its aim and its task in gaining a general view of the various spheres of life or the specific forms of activity of other ideological groups, and regarded the individual cases as a system and an example, it was the task of the Secret State Police, on the basis of existing laws, ordinances, decrees, and so on, to deal with that individual case itself and to take preventive or subsequent measures in an executive police capacity, the continuation of an already existing state institution. While the Secret State Police worked with executive means, such as interrogations, confiscations, and so on, the Security Service never had executive powers.

Q. Was it the task of the SD to support the Security Police as has been stated in decree and other announcements, particularly the circular letter released on 11th November, 1938; in this connection I refer to Document 1638 PS.

A. No, that was incorrectly expressed. Perhaps I may comment briefly on that circular letter of 11th November, 1938.

We are concerned here with the fact that for the first time an agreement had been made between the Security Service and an office of the State. The chief result of this agreement was that the Security Service was thereby officially and publicly recognized by an office of the State -

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.