The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Testimony of Walter Huppenkothen (Part 1 of 2)

31 May 1961

To the Competent Court of Justice, Cologne

Re: Request for Legal Assistance

The main hearing of the criminal proceedings against the Accused Adolf Eichmann is at present taking place in this Court.

In the context of this main hearing, I request you to extend legal assistance to this Court by the examination on oath of the following witness:

Walter Huppenkothen, Koeln-Weidenpesch, Theklastr. 14

The witness is to be examined on the following allegations of the Accused:

(1) that in the Head Office for Reich Security the Accused did not have a special position, compared with other Specialist Officers of the same rank;

(2) that as Head of Section IVB4 (IVA4b), the Accused had no independent power of decision regarding the basic measures adopted against the Jews;

To complete the testimony of the witness, I would request that the witness also be asked the following questions which were drawn up by Counsel for the Accused:

(1) What was the last rank you held in the SS?

(2) What were your official functions in the Head Office for Reich Security?

(3) Is it true that the Chief of Department IV, Müller, was particularly strict in insisting that the rules on secrecy be observed?

(4) Is it true that transgressions were punished as treason?

(5) What was the penalty for treason in war time?

(6) In how many buildings were the Sections of Department IV housed?

(7) Was Section IVB4 in a special position because it was housed in a special building?

(8) Is it true that, generally, Müller dealt directly with the heads of sections?

(9) May it therefore be deduced from the fact that Müller normally dealt with him directly, that the Accused was in a special position?

(10) Is it true that Müller frequently gave special assignments to Sections not competent to deal with them, or to individuals, without the knowledge of the competent head of section?

(11) Are you familiar with special assignments which Müller gave to the Accused's deputy, SS Sturmbannführer Guenther?

(12) Is it true that for major decisions Müller obtained instructions from his superiors, and that in individual cases of any importance he himself decided on his own initiative, thus leaving practically no room for his subordinates to take decisions?

(13) Is it true that the tasks of the Gestapo were defined in precise detail and that ordinances and decrees set very strict limits on the manner and form of its activities?

(14) What leads you to the conclusion that the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Prague was under the control of the Accused, in addition to his Section in the Head Office for Reich Security?

(15) What were the orders which the Accused received directly from Himmler?

I would also request that the witness be asked the following questions, which were drawn up by the Attorney General: (1) Was it customary for members of Department IV personnel to live in their office buildings? (2) What was the significance of the fact that Eichmann and his staff lived in the office building of Section IVB4? (3) Did the personnel of Department IV have social gatherings at the residence of the department chief? (4) Who took part in these gatherings? (5) Were office matters also talked about at these gatherings? (6) Were there special secrecy regulations about the activities of the Accused's Section? (7) Why, unlike other personnel of the Security Service, was the Accused assigned specifically to Department IV? (8) Why - even if only on paper - was the Accused under the control of the head of Group IVB, who held a lower rank than Eichmann? (9) Who were the Accused's predecessors? (10) In what respect did their tasks differ from those of the Accused? (11) After the reorganization of the Head Office for Reich Security in 1944, why was the Accused's Section transferred to Group IVA? (12) When were you appointed Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in the Lublin District, and for how long did you hold this position? (13) During your term of office in Lublin, were you in charge of a Department IV, and who was its head? (14) Who was the head of Group IVB? (15) Who was the head of Section IVB4 (in Lublin normally called IV4B, or in short, Judenreferat (Jewish Affairs Section))? (16) As far as you know, did the Jewish Affairs Section under the Lublin Commander of Security Police receive orders, in matters of substance, from the Head Office for Reich Security in Berlin? (17) Which office in the Head Office for Reich Security issued the special directives for the Jewish Affairs Sections through your office to the Jewish Affairs Specialist Officer in Lublin? I request you to summon to the examination of the witness the representative of the Attorney General of the State of Israel, c/o H.E. Ambassador, Dr. F. E. Shinnar, Israel Mission, Cologne, as well as Counsel for the Accused, Dr. R. Servatius, Hohenzollernring 14, Cologne, and to afford them the opportunity to ask the witness, on their part, any questions which might arise from his answers. There is no objection on the part of this Court to the aforementioned representatives of the parties obtaining copies of the record of the examination. Please forward the original of the record of the examination to this Court. (-) Moshe Landau President of the Trial Court Court of First Instance, Department 15 Cologne, 19 June 1961 Case No.: 6150/61 Criminal Proceedings Uagainst Adolf Eichmann on the charge of murder Present: Amtsgerichtsrat (Judge of the First Instance) Meller as Judge Just.-Ang. (Court Official) Weise, as Authenticating Clerk at the Court Office and, for the Attorney General of the State of Israel, Mr. Erwin S. Shimron of Jerusalem, with power of attorney. There appeared for the Accused's Advocate Dr. Servatius: Advocate Wechtenbruch of Munich and the witness whose name appears below: Personal details: My name is Walter Huppenkothen, employee, 53 years of age, Koeln-Weidenpesch, Theklastr. 14. I am not related and not connected by marriage to the Accused. After having been instructed on the meaning of the oath, the witness stated, on the matter in question: I worked in the Head Office for Reich Security. The Head Office for Reich Security was the highest authority of the Security Police. The original Chief of the Head Office for Reich Security was Heydrich, followed by Kaltenbrunner. The Head Office was divided into departments which were designated by Roman numerals. The departments were arranged in groups, which were designated by capital letters. The groups were subdivided into sections which were given Arabic numerals. Department IV controlled the work of the Secret State Police. That is my way of putting it - it was not the official description. The Head of the Department was SS Gruppenführer and Lieutenant-General of Police, Heinrich Müller. Group B dealt mainly with matters of churches and sects. It also included the Accused's Section. Group B was originally under SS Sturmbannführer Hartel. He held this position until after 1941. I cannot now say when he left, or who replaced him. I do not know whether his position was later filled at all. I remember that the Group was temporarily under the control of State Counsellor (Regierungsrat) and SS Sturmbannführer Roth. Jewish Affairs belonged to Section IV, of which the Accused was in charge. What else it dealt with I cannot say today. I myself was the Chief of Group IVE, which continued after 1944 as Section IVA3. When I took over the Group in January 1941, I was State Counsellor and SS Sturmbannführer. At the end I was Regierungsdirektor (Directing State Counsellor) and SS Standartenführer. My Group was the central authority for police counter-espionage. I am a graduate in law, and after taking my examination as Assessor (assistant judge), I entered the service of the Secret State Police through the interior administration. I joined the Party and the SS on 1 May 1933. Until I joined the Head Office for Reich Security, I worked in State Police offices as deputy head and head of department. From 1941 to 1945 I worked exclusively at the Head Office for Reich Security. My group was also in charge of the duties of the Inspector General for the Frontiers (Generalgrenzinspekteur). After the attempt on Hitler's life on 20 July 1944, I was put in charge of special duties which resulted from this assassination attempt. That meant that I had virtually no further dealings with the Group, known then as Department IVA3, although officially I was still Head of the Department. But I fulfilled these duties from the Head Office for Reich Security. Subsequently the witness was referred first to the questions of the Defence on page two of the request for legal assistance. In this connection he stated: (1): Has already been answered. (2): Likewise. (3): It is true that the chief of Department IV, Müller, saw to it that the provisions on preserving secrecy be strictly observed. Although the same rules on secrecy applied as for any other authority, here they were applied in an especially strict and meticulous fashion. That also meant, first and foremost, that no one got to know any more about a matter that was to be kept secret than was necessary in order to fulfil the duties allocated to him. There were therefore instances when someone's superior would not know anything about an assignment given to his subordinate. This very strict approach was a result of the nature of the office, as well as of Mr. Müller's background as a former official of the Detective Police, who was accustomed to being very particular about such matters. (4): It is true that transgressions were punished as treason, since probably in all instances of such transgressions the factual elements of relevant offence existed. I can also remember that criminal proceedings would be instituted and sometimes withdrawn, and sometimes also carried to the end. Today, however, I cannot remember any specific cases, in particular since I was not charged directly with uncovering such cases. It is true that when I joined the service Müller said to me most emphatically that he would apply the most stringent sanctions to any infringement of the provisions on secrecy. I cannot quote his exact words, but that was the gist, and I almost felt offended by the way he made the point. Müller was not a lawyer - he was from the Detective Police. (5): In the Penal Code, the offence of treason was divided into various factual definitions, as is also the case in the new version today. These were supplemented by the factual definitions in the Military Penal Code. The maximum penalty was the death penalty. Depending on the facts of the matter, prison sentences could also be imposed. Together with all its personnel, the Head Office for Reich Security was subject to military jurisdiction, on the basis of a special ordinance enacted in 1939. The supreme judicial authority was the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, i.e., the Chief of the Head Office for Reich Security. The competent court was subject to his jurisdiction. The applicable code was the Code of Military Criminal Procedure. The supreme judicial authority had to issue orders for an investigation when notified of a case, to rule as to whether proceedings were to be quashed or charges preferred, and to confirm or not to confirm judgments. In addition, he appointed the members of the court. He could also quash proceedings in minor cases and impose a disciplinary sanction instead of a judicial one. Thus, supreme judicial authorities were in such a strong position that very much depended on their influence on a case. Through their discretion, by virtue of their office, they enjoyed wide powers of decision, as detailed in the Code of Military Criminal Procedure. In terms of substantive law, the Military Penal Code applied alongside the general criminal law. Until 1942 or so the Sections of Department IV were housed in some ten different buildings, all over Berlin, so there was no contact among personnel, and the officials in charge did not know one another. There were about thirty Sections in all. After some of the buildings were destroyed in part by bombing, there was more decentralization in the matter of housing. The size of the Sections varied: some of the Sections covered different fields. There were Sections employing several hundred persons, while others had the Chief of Section with just a few staff and clerks. Of the Sections under my control, as far as I remember, the biggest employed some twenty persons. I was in charge of six Sections.

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