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-Fourth Day: Saturday, 3rd August, 1946
(Part 1 of 4)

[Page 241]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, you have an application, I think, to make. Have you not been told about it?


THE PRESIDENT: You wanted to apply for the witness Vice- Admiral Buerkner; and there was also another request, that you should visit Vice-Admiral Buerkner, and for three documents, a Pocket Book of the Fleets for the years 1908 to 1914, a Handbook of Seapower and Prestige at Sea for the years 1906, 1912, and 1914; and thirdly, an historical work on the German Navy.

DR. SIEMERS: That is correct, Mr. President. I made these applications to the General Secretary for information purposes.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that application is very late in the day unless there are special reasons for it. The Tribunal have already indicated that they propose only to hear or to grant applications for witnesses and documents for very special reasons, and therefore they would like to hear you as to what the special reasons are.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, I cannot yet see how far anything at all among the evidence for the General Staff will be necessary. There are a few points which I would like to check, and that is why I made this application. I think and believe that I shall not need to make any further application to the Tribunal, but I requested it in order to be given the possibility of obtaining information for myself in the course of the trial.

THE PRESIDENT: You are asking to go on a long journey to see Vice-Admiral Buerkner, before any evidence is called which makes it necessary.

DR. SIEMERS: As far as I know, Buerkner is in Ansbach.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it not a fact that Vice-Admiral Buerkner was here when he was summoned as a witness for the defendant Jodl, and that then he was not called, and therefore left Nuremberg?

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, I also hope that this will not be necessary. The testimony for the General Staff, however, was only given before the Commission, and several questions arose during this which I would like to discuss, because these are matters which did not arise in the earlier testimony for the individual defendants.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider the application.

DR. SIEMERS: I would like to add one thing, Mr. President. I had previously asked and I had been told by the General Secretary that no difficulties would arise from this, and that if I wanted to speak to Admiral Buerkner again I could do so. So I did not think at the time that such great difficulties would be met with. I request the Tribunal, if it be possible, to grant me this opportunity.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider the matter.

THE PRESIDENT: Does counsel for the Reich Cabinet want to re- examine this witness?

[Page 242]

RE-EXAMINATION of the witness Schlegelberger


Q. Witness, a letter was shown to you yesterday, a letter which you had written to Reich Minister Dr. Lammers. How did you come to write that letter?

A. This letter to Dr. Lammers concerned the following matter. On 6th March, at the request of the SS Racial Office, a conference took place concerning the treatment of half-Jews. I no longer know where the conference took place. In any case, it was not in the Ministry of Justice. Proposals were made at this conference which I considered absolutely impossible. Half-Jews were, without distinction, to be treated like Jews and deported to labour camps in Poland. In order to prevent decisions which I thought absolutely intolerable I applied to Reich Minister Lammers. I should like to emphasize here that the Ministry of Justice was, so to speak, only superficially active in this matter, that is, only because compulsory divorce was also suggested in connection with these proposals, a measure which was certainly very important, but was a question of only secondary importance compared with the problem as a whole.

Q. Yesterday, another one of your letters was then shown you, which was dated 6th April, 1942, and had been sent to various Party offices. The contents of this letter seem to be connected with the advisers' conference of 6th March. Can you say something more specific in this connection?

A. When I consider both letters, I can only say the following: Apparently I had not been given the necessary support by Reich Minister Lammers. But under all circumstances, I wanted to have the proposal defeated. I realised that no progress would be made by a purely negative attitude, rather must I make a positive proposal with the aim of limiting the number of people affected as much as possible. Therefore, I proposed to exclude the following persons completely: (1) Half-Jews of the second degree, that is, half-Jews who had only one non-Aryan grandparent. Also to be excluded were: (2) Those of the half-Jews of the first degree who were not capable of reproduction and (3) half- Jews of the first degree who still had living issue who were not half-Jews themselves. There still remained, therefore, only a limited class of half-Jews of the first degree. With regard to these, I proposed that they be given the opportunity to escape deportation by being sterilised. Finally, I opposed the compulsory divorce. Today I should only like to repeat what I said yesterday in my conclusion: I deeply regret that because of the jurisdictional conditions at the time and the forces at work at the time, I could not make a better proposal.

Q. Yesterday you were cross-examined and questioned about the retirement of Economics Minister Dr. Schmidt. Is it correct that Dr. Schmidt's retirement was the result of a months-long illness, that he had become incapable of work after he collapsed in a faint during a session, and that therefore his retirement came about purely from personal reasons of his health?

A. That is what I was told.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Thank you. Then I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, with reference to your letters to Dr. Lammers, which I understand were of 6th March and 6th April, 1942, about which you have just been asked - you remember them?

WITNESS: I remember the letters.

THE PRESIDENT: What I understand is that the conditions in the working camps in Poland were, in your opinion, such that it would be preferable for half-Jews to be sterilised?

WITNESS: That is my opinion.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

THE PRESIDENT: I call on Dr. Pelckmann, counsel for the SS.

[Page 243]

MR. ELWYN JONES: If your Honour pleases, before Dr. Pelckmann calls his SS witnesses, I have an application to make to the Tribunal with regard to the witness Siemers who gave evidence before the Commission.

Yesterday, my Lord, about sixteen new documents of great importance came to Nuremberg. They are from Himmler's files. Some of these documents are letters written by this man, Siemers, himself. All of them relate to the work of an important component part of the SS, namely, the Ahnenerbe, the SS Ancestry Heritage Research Organization, of which Siemers was the head executive.

These documents also relate to the Institute for Scientific Research for War Purposes. My application is for leave to cross-examine Siemers before the Tribunal upon these documents. I make this application in view of their very great importance. In my submission their contents should go upon the record of this trial; I do submit, that the documents should be put to Siemers personally.

In my submission they wholly controvert the testimony he gave to the Commissioner, and I imagine the Tribunal itself may well want to question Siemers. It is in any event my intention, if you will allow me, to put these documents in. I do not think it will take much more time if I put them to the witness himself.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness of whom you are speaking has been called before the Commission, I understand?

MR. ELWYN JONES: Yes, my Lord.

THE PRESIDENT: But he has not been called before the Tribunal nor applied for?


THE PRESIDENT: He is still in Nuremberg?

MR. ELWYN JONES: Yes, my Lord.

THE PRESIDENT: He is not one of the witnesses who has been granted to Dr. Pelckmann?

MR. ELWYN JONES: No, sir, he is an additional witness.


MR. ELWYN JONES: Dr. Pelckmann opposes my application.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Very well. We will hear you upon that now, Doctor.

DR. PELCKMANN (for the SS): Your Lordship, I regret that I must oppose the request of the Prosecutor for permission to cross-examine the witness Siemers. I should like to say beforehand that by doing this I do not want to hinder the further clarification of the case of the SS and the further clarification of the charges against Siemers. My reasons are of a more fundamental kind and as follows: In no case can the cross-examination take place before the Tribunal now. Siemers is not one of the witnesses I have summoned before the Tribunal. The cross-examination can take place, if at all, only before the Commission. I must also oppose it, however, purely for reasons of procedure. The prosecution has for months, and perhaps years, been in possession of a very large quantity of documentary material, which was read out in court. It was also in a position through its extensive auxiliary organizations, such as the CIC and the Intelligence Service, to examine witnesses who are in camps and whom it had already interrogated for over a year. Therefore, it had every opportunity to prepare the cross- examination before the Commission. In my opinion, it would not be permissible for the prosecution, despite these advantages which it has over the defence, to continue taking evidence before the Commission now. I will, however, withdraw my objection if the request which I made months ago, to be allowed to look carefully through the Allied Document Offices for material for the defence, is granted to me. I would consider that fair, in the case of the Tribunal granting the request of the prosecution. I would then be finally in a position to submit documentary

[Page 244]

material in rebuttal. I will also withdraw my objection if I am permitted, on the basis of the exculpating documents found in this way, to continue to examine witnesses before the Commission just as the prosecution has now requested in the case of the witness Siemers. One can see that the prosecution was able to produce further incriminating evidence only by a thorough investigation of the documentary material in the document offices. In view of this, would it not be fair if the defence, too, were given this opportunity to look for evidence in rebuttal?

MR. DODD: Mr. President, before the Tribunal rules on this application, I would like to make one statement. This is the second time, at least, that Dr. Pelckmann has inferred that, because he has been denied access to the document room, the defence is being unfairly obstructed.

I want the record to be perfectly clear that we know what is in that document room, and we know perfectly well there is no document there that rebuts any evidence that has been offered in this case, and if there were, it would have been made available to this Tribunal and to these defendants. I think it is fair to say that we rather resent this implication from the defence at this stage of these proceedings.

DR. PELCKMANN: May I add something to this? In my document book, if that is what counsel for the prosecution means, there are documents which I have found either in written material which has not yet been seized, or else in documents which I obtained after an exact description through the General Secretary and after decisions by the Court.

However, I must say that I am by no means in a position to indicate the exact documents, as the High Tribunal requires in such cases, if I am not placed in a position in advance, just as the prosecution is, to investigate the material in question. And this is the salient point. We see in this case how the prosecution, in contrast to the defence, especially with respect to the organizations, is able to collect material

THE PRESIDENT: We have already heard you say that, and we fully understand the point.

The Tribunal grants the application that this witness should be produced for cross-examination here. This witness has already given evidence before the Commission, and in the opinion of the Tribunal it is of importance that his evidence should be given fully and should be brought to light fully before the Tribunal. As these documents have only just come into the hands of the prosecution, the Tribunal thinks it right that the documents should be put to the witness. It is the most convenient and the shortest course that they should be put to the witness before the Tribunal.

As to Dr. Pelckmann's objections that the defence are not being treated fairly with reference to the investigation of the documents, the Tribunal thinks there is no foundation for this complaint. It would not be proper to allow the defence to have what is in the nature of a fishing investigation into the thousands of documents which are in the hands of the prosecution. If the defence can specify any document that they want, they will be given a view of that document.

I have already said that in my opinion any document which is helpful to the defence ought to be disclosed to them. That is the practice in the English courts, at any rate, and Mr. Dodd has informed the Tribunal now that if there were any documents which were in any way helpful to the defence in the prosecution's document room, it would be made available to the defence.

DR. PELCKMANN: I should only like to say that I did not say that the defence was not being treated fairly; I only said -

THE PRESIDENT: I am explaining to you why the Tribunal do not think it is possible that the defence counsel should be allowed to rove about in the prosecution's document room.

[Page 245]

Now you may call your witnesses.

DR. PELCKMANN: I call the witness Freiherr von Eberstein.

FRIEDRICH KARL VON EBERSTEIN, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Friedrich Karl Freiherr von Eberstein.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down. Proceed.

DR. PELCKMANN: I will be very grateful to your Lordship if the interpretation could be organized in such a way that technical terms and the definitions of service offices and personnel could be rendered, as much as possible, in the original text, the German text, because mistakes could frequently arise in the interpretation. In the SS organization there are so many special definitions which it is difficult to keep apart in an interpretation.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal thinks that it would be convenient to them if both the German denomination and the English were given - if both were given.



Q. Witness, were you before and after 1933 a member of the general SS?

A. Yes.

Q. Had you already entered the so-called general SS in 1928?

A. Yes.

Q. Witness, I should like to ask you to pause after each question, just as I am going to try to pause after each answer. In 1928, did the SS have a commander of its own, or was it under the commander of the SA?

A. In 1928 the SS was under the Supreme SA Leadership. The Chief of Staff at that time was a Captain von Pfeffer. Himmler was not yet Reich Leader of the SS. The SS was led by a certain Heid under the Chief of Staff.

Q. In spite of this did the SS already form a special organization?

A. Yes, it was included with the SA under the Supreme SA Leadership.

Q. Did you belong to the general SS only in an honorary capacity, that is to say, in addition to your own profession, or were you a regular member?

A. I belonged to the SS outside my regular profession. I had been a civil servant since 1934.

Q. Well, did you have any salary as an SS leader?

A. No, I had no salary. I lived on my own fortune, and later I received the salary and in addition was reimbursed for my travelling expenses and got an additional expense allowance of 150 marks a month.

Q. If I understood you correctly, you received your salary as a civil servant?

A. As a civil servant, yes, indeed.

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