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 3 of 4)

[DR. PELCKMANN continues his direct examination of Friedrich Karl Freiherr von Eberstein]

[Page 250]

Q. Please describe in detail how, in spite of all this, killings still took place, as I am informed.

A. Yes. In the course of that day, 30th June, a certain SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Beutel came to me from the SS with a special order which he had received from Heydrich. He was a young man, this Beutel, and he did not know what he should do, and he came to me to obtain advice from me, as an older man. He had an order in which there were approximately twenty-eight names and a postscript from which it appeared that some of these men were to be arrested and others were to be executed. This document had no signature on it and therefore I advised this Obersturmbannfuehrer to get positive clarification as to what should take place, and warned him emphatically against any rash action. Then, as far as I know, a courier was sent to Berlin and this courier then brought back eight orders of execution which came from Heydrich. The order read approximately as follows:

"By order of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor..." and then followed the name of the person concerned "... so and so is condemned to death by shooting for high treason."
These documents were signed by Heydrich. The signature was undoubtedly genuine and the documents were stamped with the official stamp of the office which Heydrich directed in Berlin; and on the basis of these documents eight members of the SA and the Party too, eight persons in all, were shot by the political police of Saxony in Dresden.

Besides that, a Hitler Jugend leader was shot in Plauen and still another person in Chemnitz. That is what I know about it, at least about my area.

Q. Did you have anything to do with these shootings as leader of the general SS?

A. No, in no way. This order of the State leadership was executed by the political police. I could neither have helped it; nor prevented it.

Q. Did you believe that Roehm was actually planning a treasonable undertaking and that the danger for the German Government and the German people was so immediate that only immediate action, that is to say, the shooting of those guilty, could save the situation?

A. I believed absolutely that a state of national emergency existed. I had to believe so, moreover, after the German police authority, namely, Himmler, had told me so, himself, and had also expressly indicated that I should co-operate, in case of an alarm, with the Defence Area commander, who had a very authoritative office.

Q. Do you remember that immediately after these events the Press published two telegrams from President von Hindenburg, one to the Fuehrer, dated 2nd July, 1934 and the other of the same date to Goering. I quote SS Document 74, which will be handed in later, Hindenburg's telegram to Hitler:

"From the reports which had been brought to me, I see that by your decisive initiative and by your brave personal activity you have nipped all the treasonable activities in the bud. You have saved the German people from a grave danger. For this I express to you my heart- felt gratitude and my sincere respect. With best greetings, von Hindenburg."
The telegram from Hindenburg to Goering:
"For your energetic and successful action in crushing the attempt at high treason, I express to you my gratitude and respect."
Did you read these telegrams at the time in the Press?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember the speech which Hitler made before the German Reichstag on 13th July, 1934, in which he also described how an immediate danger had apparently been hovering over Germany?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember this-and I will quote only a very brief extract from SS Document 105 -

[Page 251]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, do you not think that you can summarize this rather more? This witness has said that so far as his district is concerned the SS had nothing to do with the Roehm affair and it does not seem to be necessary to put all the details of it to him.

DR. PELCKMANN: I believe that I have only the following point to add to the Roehm putsch - but perhaps that has already been exhaustively discussed - that, as a matter of fact, even afterwards no suspicion of an illegal action could arise. I wanted to do that by means of this evidence to which I am referring.

THE PRESIDENT: You realize, do you not, as we have said over and over again, that we do not want to have the evidence given before the Commission repeated before us. What we wish is to have a summary and only the most important points dealt with and any new points; and, of course, we wish to see the witnesses in order to see whether they are credible.

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes, I will keep that in mind, your Lordship.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: With reference to the applications by Dr. Siemers, both of those applications are rejected. Dr. Siemers, of course, may go and visit Vice-Admiral Buerkner if he wishes to do so, but the particular application which he made in that respect is rejected and so is the other application which he made for certain documents which are in public libraries.


Q. One more question about 30th June. Witness, do you recall from Hitler's speech that he said that some innocent persons had been killed and that he promised that these cases would be judged by the regular courts?

A. Yes.

Q. At that time, did you hear the opinion, which you have also reported here today, expressed everywhere in your circle of friends that a state of emergency had existed?

A. Yes, not only in the SS but also from other Germans.

Q. Witness, where were you on 9th November, 1938?

A. On 9th November, 1938, I was in Munich.

Q. What position did you hold at that time in the general SS?

A. In the general SS I was SS Obergruppenfuehrer and head of the SS Oberabschnitt South. In addition, I was Police President of Munich.

Q. Please describe how you first heard of excesses against Jewish businesses during this night?

A. On that day, in accordance with my official duty, I had to accompany Hitler to the meeting of the Old Fighters in the old City Hall. There Hitler was told that Legation Councillor von Rath had died of his injuries. Hitler was very strongly affected by this and refused to speak, as he had always done before. During this dinner he had a very serious discussion with Goebbels. I could not overhear what was being discussed. Shortly thereafter Hitler drove to his apartment. I had to accompany him there on my official duty. Following that I was made responsible for directing the security measures and blocking off traffic on the Odeon Platz. Every year, on the night of 9th-10th November, a meeting was held there and new recruits were sworn into the Waffen SS. When I came to the Odeon Platz, it was reported to me that a synagogue was burning and that the firemen were being interfered with.

Shortly thereafter I received a telephone call from the Chief Magistrate (Landrat) of Munich, who told me that Planegg Castle on the Munich city limits, which belonged to the Jewish Baron Hirsch, had been set on fire by unknown persons. The constabulary asked for assistance. This was about 23.45 hours. At 24.00 hours, Hitler came to the meeting. Since I could not leave my post, I sent the

[Page 252]

next highest SS leader, Brigadefuehrer Diehm, to the synagogue to establish order there. Besides that, I sent a police raiding squad under an officer to Planegg in order to ascertain the perpetrators and put out the fire.

Immediately after the roll-call, after the recruits were sworn in, the other higher SS leaders and myself were ordered to report to Himmler. There in the hotel his deputy, Gauleiter Niepolt, informed me that following Hitler's departure from the Rathaus, Goebbels had made a wild speech attacking the Jews. As a result of this, quite a few excesses had occurred in the city. I immediately drove through the city in a car in order to survey the situation. I saw shop windows which had been smashed; a few stores were burning. First, I immediately intervened myself, and then threw all the available police on the streets with instructions to protect Jewish business establishments until further notice.

In addition to that, in co-operation with one of the municipal offices of Munich, I saw to it that the shop windows were boarded up to prevent thefts and so forth.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, the witness is saying that he took every step to prevent these excesses. I do not think we want the details. I do not think that we want to hear the details of the steps he took to prevent these things and to keep order. The prosecution can cross-examine if they want to.

DR. PELCKMANN: Mr. President, is it not possible for me to submit to the witness just what he will be asked by the prosecution? I consider it important that the witness himself should -

THE PRESIDENT: The witness has been telling us, for several minutes, what happened on 9th and 10th November, 1938, and we think we know enough. We know the general nature of what he said and we do not want the details of it. If you think that he has not said that the SS did not participate in the excesses, you can ask him that question. He says as far as he is concerned that he did not take part, but that he tried to stop it. We do not want to hear the details of how he tried to stop it.


What orders, witness, did you give to the general SS against participating in the excesses and did the SS subordinate to you obey these orders?

A. I told Brigadefuehrer Diehm that I strictly prohibited any action and I threatened considerable punishment. We in the SS considered this action downright indecent.

Q. Do you know, witness, that an Adjutant Schallermeier, on the night before 10th November, took dictation from Himmler, more or less to the effect that he disliked the whole action as mere propaganda of Goebbels and that Hitler had told Himmler that the SS was to keep out of this action?

A. I do not know this document.

Q. I refer to the Affidavit SS No. 5, which will be discussed later.

You said, witness, that this whole action was detested by the leaders and members of the SS. Do you attribute this to the basic attitude of the SS toward the Jewish question, or do you attribute it, as does a version I have heard from another source, to the feeling that it would be a pity for German national property of such considerable value to be destroyed?

A. I can only say that the SS, just like the Party, was anti- Semitic, but quite apart from any material loss, we considered this indecent and the SS did not participate in it.

Q. One more question on the preparation for wars of aggression: do you know whether the general SS made preparations for the entry into Austria and whether it participated in this entry?

A. No, the general SS did not participate in it. My Oberabschnitt covered the whole German-Austrian border. I would positively have had to know something about it.

[Page 253]

Q. Do you know of any other preparation for an attack on Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France and Russia, by the general SS?

A. I know nothing of it and the general SS would certainly not have been in any position to attack a foreign State.

Q. After the beginning of the war, did the general SS continue to exist and what task did it then have to fulfil?

A. The general SS, as a practical matter, ceased to exist during the war. Of the 10,000 men who were included in my Oberabschnitt, there were only 7,200 left in the country when the Volkssturm was called up in November, 1944. These 1,200 men had all been assigned to war work at home and were no longer available for SS service. They had been taken into the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS to the last man.

Q. And so was there any more official business, such as you have described as existing in peace time?

A. No. There were no more available for the tasks which still had to be performed, namely, assisting the Welfare Detachments of the Waffen SS in their work, attending to the wounded in the hospitals and caring for the dependants of our fallen comrades. We did this work with honorary members and even with women.

Q. Were the members of the general SS enlisted instead of the so-called Death's Head units to guard the concentration camps?

A. Yes, a small percentage, just as members of other branches of the Party, members of the Kyffhauser Bund, mostly men who could no longer be used at the front. These men were all liable for duty by virtue of the emergency service order. Toward the end of the war members of all the branches of the Wehrmacht, even citizens of allied States, provided guards for the concentration camps.

Q. I refer in this connection to Documents SS 26 and 28. The prosecution has asserted that the general SS established concentration camps immediately after 1933, and that killings and atrocities occurred. What do you know about this?

A. The general SS did not establish any concentration camps. The concentration camps were established by the State. To what extent atrocities occurred there I cannot judge.

Q. Can you recall the case of an SS leader Engel, in Stettin, in this connection?

A. No, I knew Engel from the SS, but what he had to do with this I do not know. He was in Northern Germany and I in Southern Germany.

Q. In Munich you were Oberabschnittsfuehrer of the general SS; at the same time you were Police President, and from 1939 on you were Higher SS and Police Leader. Please comment as to whether the position of Oberabschnittsfuehrer of the general SS was fundamentally connected: (1) with the position of Police President, and (2) with the positions of the Higher SS and Police Leaders.

A. As a matter of fundamental principle I can say no in both cases. There were exceptions. The Police Presidents of Dusseldorf, Nuremberg and Munich were Oberabschnittsfuehrers at the same time. In the second case I can say that the great majority of Oberabschnittsfuehrers of the general SS from 1939 on, that is from the outbreak of the war, were also Higher SS and Police Leaders. An exception existed in Berlin, where the Higher SS and Police Leader was Heissmeier, who was not Oberabschnittsfuehrer of the general SS.

Q. Is the assertion of the prosecution correct that the Higher SS and Police Leader represented a very close connection between the general SS and the Police?

A. No. The SS and police were separate organizations and were only connected at the top, in the person of Himmler. The general SS and the police had entirely separate tasks.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not understand what you are saying. I thought you said that you were the head of the SS in Munich and also the Police President.

[Page 254]

DR. PELCKMANN: Mr. President, in order to inform the Court -

THE PRESIDENT: Did you not say that you were the head of the SS in Munich and the South and also Police President?


THE PRESIDENT: And then you say the police and the SS were only united in the person of Himmler.

THE WITNESS: Yes. The sphere of duty of the Higher SS and Police Leader - I have not yet had an opportunity to describe this - he had no power of command over the police, but he was only a representative of Himmler, without any power to issue orders. Thereby -

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean that you had no power to give orders to the police?

THE WITNESS: In Munich, as Police President, yes. That was my State office, that was my profession. In other towns, however, where the Oberabschnittsfuehrer was not police chief, he could not -

THE PRESIDENT: I am talking about Munich. In Munich you were the head of the SS and you were also Police President?


THE PRESIDENT: The two organizations were united in you, is that right?

THE WITNESS: In my case, yes, but not generally.

THE PRESIDENT: I am not talking about generally, I am talking about Munich. Then you go on to say that the police and the SS were only united in the person of Himmler. Those two statements seem to me to be contradictory.

THE WITNESS: I remarked before that only in three cases in all Germany were the Police Presidents at the same time leaders of the general SS. It was an exception in my case, in Munich, in Dusseldorf and in Nuremberg. Otherwise -

THE PRESIDENT: I thought you said Dresden, too.

THE WITNESS: In Dresden I was not in the police.

THE PRESIDENT: I did not say you were. I thought you said the Police President in Dresden was also the head of the SS.

THE WITNESS: No, that must have been misunderstood. I did not say that.



Q. Witness, the misunderstanding probably arose because of a third function which has not yet been discussed. Please tell us, did the following three positions have any basic connection with each other: (1) the Police President, (2) the Higher SS and Police Leader, and (3) the SS Oberabschnittsfuehrer? As a matter of fundamental principle, did these three have any personal connection in their structure?

A. No, that in Munich was an exception. In my case they actually coincided but not in other parts of the Reich.

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