The skeleton collection of Dr. Hirt

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The skeleton collection of Dr. Hirt

Post by David Thompson » 20 Aug 2004 18:15

The subject of Dr. med. August Hirt, the gas chamber at KL Natzweiler, and the Strasbourg skeleton collection has been mentioned here before, at:

The two poison gases
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... light=hirt

Gas Chambers at KL Natzweiler
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 35&start=0

Here is an official extract of information on that off-beat topic, taken from Trials of War Criminals before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals under Council Control Law No. 10, vol. 1, US Government Printing Office, Washington (DC): 1949, pp. 738-58 (United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et. al. [Case 1: 'Medical Case'].). The report of this trial is available at, among other places, The Mazal Library at http://www.mazal.org/NMT-HOME.htm
B. Jewish Skeleton Collection

a. Introduction

The defendants Rudolf Brandt and Sievers were charged with criminal responsibility and participation in plans and enterprises, involving the murder of civilians and members of the armed forces of nations at war with the German Reich, and specifically with the murder of 112 Jews for the purpose of completing a skeleton collection for the Reich University at Strasbourg (par. 7 of the indictment). On this charge both defendants were convicted. The prosecution's summation of the evidence and argumentation on the Jewish skeleton collection is contained in its closing brief against the defendant Sievers. An extract from this brief is set forth below on pages 739 to 741. A corresponding summation of the evidence by the defense has been selected from the closing brief for the defendant

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Sievers. It appears below on pages 741 to 747. This argumentation is followed by selections from the evidence on pages 748 to 759.

b. Selection from the Argumentation of the Prosecution.

EXTRACT FROM THE CLOSING BRIEF AGAINST DEFENDANT SIEVERS

* * * * * * * * * *

Skeleton Collection

In response to a request by the defendant Rudolf Brandt, on 9 February 1942, Sievers submitted to him a report by Dr. Hirt of the University of Strasbourg on the desirability of securing a collection of Jewish skeletons. (NO-085, Pros. Ex. 175.) In this report, Hirt advocated outright murder of "Jewish Bolshevik Commissars" for the procurement of such a collection. He stated:
"By procuring the skulls of the Jewish Bolshevik Commissars, who personify a repulsive, yet characteristic subhumanity, we have the opportunity of obtaining tangible scientific evidence. The actual obtaining and collecting of these skulls without difficulty could be best accomplished by a directive issued to the Wehrmacht in the future to immediately turn over alive all Jewish Bolshevik Commissars to the field police."
These units were to report to a special office which would send out specialists to have photographs and anthropological measurements taken and ascertain the origin, birth date, and other personal data of the victims. Hirt further stated:
"Following the subsequently induced death of the Jew, whose head must not be damaged, he will separate the head from the torso and will forward it to its point of destination in a preserving fluid in a well-sealed tin container especially made for this purpose. On the basis of the photos, the measurements, and other data on the head and, finally, the skull itself, comparative anatomical research, research on racial classification, pathological features of the skull formation, form and size of the brain, and many other things can begin. In accordance with its scope and tasks, the new Reich University of Strasbourg would be the most appropriate place for the collection of and research upon these skulls thus acquired. [Emphasis supplied.]
On 27 February 1942, Brandt informed Sievers that Himmler would support Hirt's work and would place everything necessary at his disposal. Brandt requested Sievers to inform Hirt accordingly and to report again on Hirt's work. (NO-090, Pros. Ex. 176.)

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Hirt's murderous and inhuman plan was carried out in a way which differed but slightly from the suggestion made in his preliminary report. (NO-085, Pros. Ex. 175.) The proof has shown that it was decided to preserve the whole skeletons of the victims rather than merely the skulls. On 2 November 1942 Sievers requested Brandt to make the necessary arrangements with the Reich Security Main Office for providing 150 Jewish inmates from Auschwitz to carry out this plan. (NO-086, Pros. Ex. 177.) On 6 November Brand informed Adolf Eichmann, the Chief of Office IV-B-4 (Jewish affairs) of the Reich Security Main Office to put everything at Hirt's disposal which was necessary for the completion of the skeleton collection. (NO-089, Pros, Ex. 179.)

From Sievers letter to Eichmann of 21 June 1943, it is apparent that SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Beger, a collaborator of the Ahnenerbe Society, carried out the preliminary work for the assembling of the skeleton collection in the Auschwitz concentration camp on 79 Jews, 30 Jewesses, 2 Poles, and 4 Asiatics. In this letter, Sievers stated that Beger had to interrupt his work because of the danger of infectious diseases in the camp. Sievers requested that the inmates on whom Beger had carried out this work be transferred to the Natzweiler concentration camp because further activities in Auschwitz were impossible due to the danger of infection. Special accommodation for the thirty women was to be provided in the Natzweiler concentration camp "for a short period". [Emphasis added.] (NO-087, Pros. Ex. 181.)

The statement of the camp commandant of the Natzweiler concentration camp, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Josef Kramer, reveals that approximately 80 inmates of the Auschwitz concentration camp, among them females, were transferred to the Natzweiler concentration camp and killed there by gas at the request of Hirt in the beginning of August 1943. A special gas chamber had been built for this purpose. The corpses of the victims were sent in three shipments to the Anatomical Institute of Hirt in Strasbourg University. (NO-807, Pros. Ex. 185.) This evidence is corroborated by the testimony of the witness Henripierre. He testified that in the beginning of August 1943, the principal autopsy technician of the Anatomical Institute, Bong, received the order from Hirt to prepare the tanks in the cellar of the Institute for approximately 120 corpses. At intervals of a few days, three shipments of corpses, 30 female, 30 male, and 26 male, arrived by truck from an unknown place. All of these victims were Jewish. These corpses were preserved in the cellar of the Anatomical Institute in the tanks prepared by Bong. (Tr. pp. 712-4.) See also the affidavit of Wagner. (NO-881, Pros. Ex. 280.) As proved by the

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Sievers' diary, Beger was ordered to prepare plaster casts of the victims, (3546-PS, Pros. Ex. 123.)

Early in September 1944, when the Allied armies were threatening Strasbourg, Sievers approached the defendant Brandt with the request for instructions as to what should be done with the Jewish bodies which were still stored in the tanks in the cellar of the Anatomical Institute. He informed Brandt that Hirt would be able to "deflesh" the corpses and thus render them unrecognizable, but in this case part of the work would have been done in vain "and it would be a great scientific loss for this unique collection because casts could not be made afterwards. The skeleton collection is not conspicuous. Viscera could be declared as remnants of corpses, apparently left in the Anatomical institute by the French and ordered to be cremated." Sievers requested a directive from Brandt whether the collection should be preserved, partly dissolved, or completely dissolved. (NO-088, Pros. Ex. 182.)

From the memorandum of SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Berg, and his telephone conversation with Sievers on 15 October 1944, it is apparent that it was first decided to destroy the evidence of these brutal crimes, but with a temporary improvement in the military situation, this decision was rescinded. Sievers informed Berg on 21 October 1941 that, in compliance with the orders he had received previously, the dissolution of the collection had been completed. (NO-091, Pros. Ex. 183.) But such was not the case. Hirt had ordered Bong and his assistant, Meyer, to cut up the 86 corpses and have them cremated in the Strasbourg crematorium, but these two men alone were enable to carry out this enormous task. A number of corpses remained undissected and were left in the tanks, together with partially dissected corpses, in order to create the impression that they were used for normal anatomical research. (Tr. p. 715; N0-881, Pros. Ex. 280.)

The pictures of these corpses and of the gas chambers in the Natzweiler concentration camp, where the victims of the Jewish skeleton collection were murdered, taken by the French authorities after the liberation of Strasbourg, tell the grim story of this mass murder more vividly than witnesses and documents ever could. (NO-483, Pros. Ex. 184; N0-807, Pros. Ex. 185.)

* * * * * * * * * *

c. Selection from the Argumentation of the Defense

EXTRACTS FROM THE CLOSING BRIEF FOR DEFENDANT SIEVERS

* * * * * * * * * *

In 1943 a collection of Jewish skeletons was set up in the Anatomy Department of the Reich University of Strasbourg according to plans

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which had been prepared in 1941 by Himmler and the Director of this Anatomy Department, Professor Dr. Hirt. The skeletons were to be obtained by selecting the required number of persons in the concentration camp at Auschwitz from among the Bolshevist commissars who had been taken prisoner in the campaign against the Soviet Union. The liquidation of the persons chosen took place in the concentration camp at Natzweiler.

Whether the liquidation entailed a death which was deserved or undeserved on the part of the persons chosen depends upon whether the "Commissar Order," which was the basis of the liquidation, can be regarded as legal and permissible or not. A detailed examination of this question can be excluded here, since subjective grounds are of decisive significance in this connection.

Sievers did not take part personally either in the selection or in the liquidation of those persons designated for the skeleton collection. The choosing was undertaken by a certain Dr. Beger in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. (NO-087, Pros. Ex. 181.) Sievers himself was never in Auschwitz. The liquidation tools place in the concentration camp at Natzweiler. The earliest date at which the liquidation could have taken place is shown by the date of the aforementioned document which is dated 21 June 1943. After 23 January 1943, Sievers was no longer in Natzweiler. Therefore any personal participation of Sievers in the selection as well as the liquidation is out of the question.

We must now examine whether the setting up of the skeleton collection and the associated liquidation of those persons selected took place on Sievers' orders or instructions —

The prosecution has submitted and read:

Letter of the Reichsgeschaeftsfuehrer of the Ahnenerbe to Brandt, dated 9 February 1942, with a report from Dr. Hirt in which the latter suggests a collection of skulls for the University of Strasbourg which was to be obtained from Jewish-Bolshevist Commissars. (NO-085, Pros. Ex. 175.)

Letter of Brandt to Sievers, dated 29 February 1942, with the report that the Reich Leader SS is quite interested in the work of Professor Hirt and will place at his disposal everything which he requires for his experiments. (NO-090, Pros. Ex. 176.)

Letter of the Reichsgeschaeftsfuehrer of the Ahnenerbe to Dr. Brandt, dated 2 November 1942, regarding the requisition of 150 skeletons of prisoners for certain anthropological examinations. (NO-086, Pros. Ex. 177.)

Personal staff Reich Leader SS to Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Main Office for the Security of the Reich), dated 6 November 1942, regarding transmission of the order of the Reich Leader SS

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to make possible the construction of the skeleton collection as planned. (NO-089, Pros. Ex. 179.)

Letter of the personal staff Reich Leader SS to the Ahnenerbe, dated 3 December 1942, regarding remedying of deficiencies through SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl. (N0-092, Pros. Ex. 180.)

Letter of the institute for Military Scientific Research of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Main Office for the Security of the Reich), dated 21 June 1943, regarding the transfer of the 115 persons selected by SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Beger in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. (NO-087, Pros. Ex. 181.)

Telegram of the personal staff, office "A'", to Dr. Brandt, dated 5 September 1944, regarding the procurement of instructions as to what should happen to the collection in the event Strasbourg should be endangered. (NO-088, Pros. Ex. 182.)

Two memoranda of Berg, dated 15 and 26 October 1944, regarding the breaking up of the collection. (NO-091, Pros, Ex. 183.)

Several entries in the diary of Sievers, 1943-44.

A letter of Sievers to Dr. Hirt, dated 3 January 1942, has been offered by the prosecution. (NO-3629, Pros. Ex. 547.) This letter contains the request of Himmler to Hirt to make available to him a detailed report regarding his experiments which then could serve as basis for a conference.

Letter of the Reich Business Manager to Dr. Hirt, dated 29 October 1942, regarding the granting of subsidies for research activities. (NO-3819, Pros. Ex. 550.)

In this respect, counsel for the defense declares:

The idea of setting up a. skull collection of Jewish-Bolshevist Commissars initiated with Dr. Hirt, director of the Anatomy Department of the University of Strasbourg. Dr. Hirt himself submitted to Himmler the suggestion for setting up such a collection. (Tr. p. 5704.) The suggestion received Himmler's complete assistance. Himmler issued instructions to place everything at Hirt's disposal which he required for his experiments. (N0-090, Pros. Ex. 176. ) In addition to this, Himmler issued an order through his personal staff on 6 November 1942 that everything necessary will be placed at the disposal of Professor Dr. Hirt. (NO-089, Pros. Ex. 179.)

It can be seen from the letter of the personal staff of the Reich Leader SS to the Reich Business Manager of the Ahnenerbe, dated 25 March 1942, how energetically Himmler favored the experiments of Dr. Hirt. This letter states:
"In this connection, please get in touch with Hirt as soon as possible and consider further how Hirt can best be brought closer to us." (Sievers 53, Sievers Ex. 49.)

It can be seen further from the direct examination of Sievers that

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Dr. Hirt was a confidant of Himmler, for Sievers was able to establish this fact as early as 1936 and in the subsequent years had an opportunity to repeat this observation. (Tr. pp. 5706-7.)

This can also be established by means of the conference which took place at Easter 1942 regarding the course of which Sievers has given a detailed description. Among other things, Sievers called attention to the fact that Hirt and his anatomical collection, which was a University matter, did not concern the Ahnenerbe in any way.

Himmler became quite active after this aggressive action of Sievers following which the latter requested an order in writing, (Tr. p. 5715.)

In this connection, the order of Himmler, dated 7 July 1942, must also be mentioned. Figure 2 reads as follows (NO-422, Pros. Ex. 33) ;
"I order the Ahnenerbe "

1. * * *

"2. To aid in every possible manner the research activities of SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Professor Dr. Hirt and in the same way promote all the experiments and work pertinent to same."
These facts were necessary in order to clarify matters for the chief instigators, Himmler and Hirt. Everyone cognizant of the conditions knows that it was also impossible in this case to act in any way contrary to the orders issued by Himmler.

Until the Easter conference of 1942, Sievers knew nothing of the Commissar Order; Himmler at that time showed him pictures of Bolshevist Commissars, men and women who had been arrested. as well as pictures of German soldiers and civilians who had been killed and mutilated in the most horrible manner by these male and female monsters. This influenced Sievers' attitude toward the "Commissar Order," the contents of which he learned in outline at that time. The original text of the "Commissar Order" could not be produced during the Goering* trial. For a clarification of the contents of this order, counsel for the defense refers to the "Directives for the commands of the Chiefs of the Security Police and of the Security Service (SD) to be transferred to the Stalags." (Sievers 54, Sievers Ex. 50.)

As in the other cases, Sievers' activity consisted in forwarding correspondence, whether it came from "above," that is, Himmler, Rudolf Brandt, or from Hirt or other third parties. It can be shown conclusively that he himself issued no instructions and orders and thereby exercised no decisive activity.

The suggestion to set up a Jewish-Bolshevist skull collection did not originate with Sievers but with Dr. Hirt. The order for this was

________________

*Trial before International Military Tribunal. see Trial of the Major War Criminals, vols. I-XLII, Nuremberg, 1947


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issued by Himmler, who also ordered that Hirt should be granted all possible assistance.

Himmler requested information about the anthropological experiments of Dr. Hirt from Sievers and ordered the presentation of a report from Dr. Hirt. Thereafter, Sievers submitted, on 9 February 1942, the report requested again by Dr. Brandt on 29 December 1941.

* * * * * * * * * *

After his meeting with Hirt in May 1941 and his brief report to Himmler, Sievers obviously did not concern himself further with the entire matter, until Himmler, in his letter dated 29 December 1941, requested a detailed report from Hirt through Dr. Brandt. This can be seen from the reference memorandum of Sievers dated 9 February 1943 in his letter of 9 February 1942 to R. Brandt (NO-085, Pros. Ex. 175) and was also stated by Sievers on direct examination. (Tr. p. 5704.) At that time, Himmler imparted the information which Sievers passed on to Hirt in his letter of 3 January 1942. In this letter, the question of a Jewish-Bolshevist skull collection was never mentioned but simply the matter of anthropological experiments. It is generally known that the carrying out of anthropological experiments forms a part of the chief duties of every anatomical institute, and also that such experiments are conducted on designated groups of persons, and that persons who have been executed are turned over to anatomical institutes for research purposes. Upon the request of Hirt for assistance in his anthropological experiments, Himmler immediately made a corresponding offer; as the competent chief of the German police, he was in a position to do so. And Sievers, at that time, need not have assumed, by any stretch of the imagination, that the experimental subjects were to be killed for this purpose. On the basis of the general practice, he could perhaps more easily assume that only the corpses of those legally condemned to death and legally executed would be considered for the experiments of Hirt. Today we know that it was compatible with his criminal mentality insofar as human experiments and the like were concerned. At that time, the latter part of 1941, no one who, like Sievers, had not up to this time come in contact with experiments on human beings could have suspected in advance that in this case it would be a question of criminal acts.

In addition, there was no provision made at all at this time for Hirt's working in connection with the Ahnenerbe. In his letter of 3 January 1942 to Hirt. Sievers writes
"In order to effect your transfer to the Ahnenerbe, that is, to Personal Staff of the Reich Leader SS, I would like some information from you."
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Naturally. Himmler wanted Hirt to be as close to him as possible, but in reference to the transfer Sievers adds: " * * * that is, to the Personal Staff of the Reich Leader SS", for neither Sievers nor Hirt assumed that Hirt would receive the support of Himmler through the Institute for Humanistic Studies of the Ahnenerbe of all things, This was also testified to by Sievers on direct examination. (Tr. pp, 5715-6.)

Not until later did Hirt's connection with the Ahnenerbe develop as a result of the personal and extraordinary urging of Himmler, as can be proved by the two letters, dated 27 February 1942 (NO-090, Pros. Ex. 176), and 25 March 1942 (Sievers 33, Sievers Ex. 49). On the basis of these letters and the efforts of Himmler, Sievers then lodged a protest with Himmler at Easter, 1942 — 5 April — as he set forth in detail on direct examination. (Tr. pp. 574 -15.)

As a matter of fact, Hirt did not become a member of the Ahnenerbe until the fall of 1942, as can be seen from the prosecution rebuttal Document NO-3819, Prosecution Exhibit 550.

The rebuttal documents submitted by the prosecution in this matter do not, therefore, refute the testimony of Sievers on his direct examination, but confirm them, which is also shown by the affidavits of Fran Dr. Schmitz (Sievers 45, Sievers Ex. 46; Sievers 55, Sievers Ex. 51), and is shown in a further summary in the affidavit of Sievers. (Sievers 64, Sievers Ex. 59.)

Letter of the Chief of the Security Police (SIPO) and of the Security Service (SD) dated 9 November 1941, regarding the transportation of the Soviet-Russian prisoners of war, who were to be executed, to the concentration camps (1234-PS, Pros. Ex. 555):

It can be seen from this document that Soviet-Russian prisoners of war who were to be executed were taken to the concentration camps. Although the Commissar Order was not known to Sievers in detail, it follows from the context of the Easter conference of 1942, which Sievers had with Himmler, that Soviet-Russian Commissars were affected by this order. At that time, it was generally known in the German Wehrmacht and also among the German civilian population that there were female commissars in the Soviet-Russian Army who evidenced an unusual degree of fanaticism. It was also known that strong gangs of insurgents were being formed behind the German front line, who were conducting a ruthless and brutal war against members of the German Wehrmacht of both sexes contrary to all the rules of international law. In the ranks of these gangs there were many riflewomen who, in complete accordance with the provisions of international law,

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were condemned to death. In this respect, it must be stated that all or the great majority of the Soviet?Russian Commissars did not commit crimes against international law. However, there can be no doubt that within their great numbers, a certain number could have also been found who could have committed such crimes. Since the number of skeletons requested by Hirt was small, Sievers could assume that only such criminals could be considered for the collection.

Therefore, it cannot be argued that Sievers must in any case have assumed from the letter dictated by Dr. Beger to the Reich Security Main Office, dated 21 June 1943, that the persons who had been chosen by Dr. Beger in the concentration camp at Auschwitz were to be liquidated without trial or without any legal basis. It was not the duty of Sievers to check this matter. Here we must examine only whether Sievers in any case is bound to have recognized that the proceedings were illegal or whether he could rely on the fact that there existed a legal basis for the liquidation ordered by Himmler. Considering the war conditions in the East, Sievers could assume the latter fact without further ado.

These statements are only made in case it should be assumed that Sievers had the obligation to examine this independently. We think, however, that someone who was only engaged in a subordinate position was entitled to rely on the legality of the decisions of his superior.

* * * * * * * * * *

d. Evidence

Prosecution Documents

Doc. No Pros. Ex. No. Description of Documents Page

NO-085 175 Letter from Sievers to Rudolf Brandt, 9 February 1942, and report by Hirt concerning the acquisition of skulls of Jewish–Bolshevik Commissars 748
NO-086 177 Letter from Sievers to Rudolf Brandt. 2 November 1942, requesting with Himmler's approval, 150 skeletons. 750
NO-087 181 Letter from Sievers to Eichmann (copy to Rudolf Brandt), 21 June 1943, concerning selection of subjects for a skeleton collection. 751
NO-807 185 Tank containing formaldehyde for the preservation of corpses; corpses assembled in tanks prior to dissection; corpse showing incisions in preparation for dissection. (See Selections from Photographic Evidence of the Prosecution.) 905

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Defense Documents

Doc. No. Def. Ex. No. Description of Document Page

Sievers 45
Sievers Ex. 46 Extract from the affidavit of Dr. Gisela Schmitz, 27 March 1947, on Sievers' Position in the Ahnenerbe Society and his connection with the skeleton collection. 752
Sievers 54
Sievers Ex. 50 Regulations for the Commandos (Einsatzkommandos) of the Security Police and the Security Service to be activated in Stalags. 754

Testimony

Extract from the testimony of defendant Rudolf Brandt. . . . . . . . . . . 757

TRANSLATION OF
DOCUMENT NO-085
PROSECUTION EXHIBIT 175

LETTER FROM SIEVERS TO RUDOLF BRANDT, 9 FEBRUARY 1942, AND REPORT BY HIRT CONCERNING THE ACQUISITION OF SKULLS OF JEWISH-BOLSHEVIK COMMISSARS

The Ahnenerbe
The Reich Business Manager

Berlin, 9 February 1942
G/R/2 page 1

To: SS Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Brandt
Berlin SW 11, Prinz Albrecht Strasse 8

Secret

Dear Comrade Brandt:

For the reason that Professor Dr. Hirt has in the meantime become seriously ill, I regret that I have been unable to submit any sooner Dr. Hirt's report which you requested in your letter of 29 December 1941, Journal No. AR/493/37. He was stricken with pulmonary hemorrhages, the diagnosis was "cystlung", so at least it is not TB. In addition to that he suffered from circulatory asthenia. At present he is still in the hospital, but hopes that the doctor will release him soon so that he can, at least to a limited degree, resume his work. Due to those circumstances Professor Hirt was able to furnish only a preliminary report which, however, I still should like to submit to your attention. The report concerns

1. his research in the field of microscopy of living tissues, the discovery of a new method of examination, and the construction of a new research microscope, and

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2. a proposal for securing skulls of Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars. As a supplement to report 1, some special publications are attached; of which the two parties from the "Zeiss Nachrichten" #10 (Vol. 11) and 1-5 (Vol. III) facilitate most rapid general orientation, whereas other publications deal with difficult, individual scientific studies.
Sincerely yours,

Heil Hitler!
[Signed] Sievers

Enclosures
________________
Enclosure

Subject: Securing skulls of Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars for the purpose of scientific research at the Reich University of Strasbourg.

There exist extensive collections of skulls of almost all races and peoples. Of the Jewish race, however, only so very few specimens of skulls are at the disposal of science that a study of them does not permit precise conclusions. The war in the East now presents us with the opportunity to remedy this shortage. By procuring the skulls of the Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars, who personify a repulsive yet characteristic subhumanity, we have the opportunity of obtaining tangible scientific evidence.

The actual obtaining and collecting of these skulls without difficulty could be best accomplished by a directive issued to the Wehrmacht in the future to immediately turn over alive all Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars to the field police [Feldpolizei]. The field police in turn is to be issued special directives to continually inform a certain office of the number and place of detention of these captured Jews and to guard them well until the arrival of a special deputy. This special deputy, commissioned with the collection of the material (a junior physician attached to the Wehrmacht or even the field police, or a medical student equipped with car and driver), is to take a prescribed series of photographs and anthropological measurements, and is to ascertain, insofar as is possible, the origin, date of birth, and other personal data of the prisoner. Following the subsequently induced death of the Jew, whose head must not be damaged, he will separate the head from the torso and will forward it to its point of destination in a preserving fluid in a well-sealed tin container especially made for this purpose. On the basis of the photos, the measurements and other data on the head and, finally, the skull itself, comparative anatomical research, research on racial classification, pathological features of the skull formation, form and size of the brain, and many other things can begin. In accordance with its scope and tasks, the new Reich University of Strasbourg would be the most appropriate place for the collection of and research on the skulls thus acquired.


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TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT NO-086
PROSECUTION EXHIBIT 177

LETTER FROM SIEVERS TO RUDOLF BRANDT, 2 NOVEMBER 1942, REQUESTING WITH HIMMLER'S APPROVAL, 150 SKELETONS

The Ahnenerbe
The Reich Business Manager

Berlin, 2 November 1942
[Stamp]
Personal Staff Reich Leader SS
Registration of Files Secret 5/116

Secret

To: SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. Brandt
Berlin

Dear Comrade Brandt!

The Reich Leader SS once ordered, as you know, that SS Haupsturmfuehrer Prof. Dr. Hirt should be provided with all necessary material for his research work. I have already reported to the Reich Leader SS that for some anthropological studies 150 skeletons of inmates or Jews are needed and should be provided by the Auschwitz concentration camp. It is only necessary for the Reich Security Main Office to be furnished now with an official directive by the Reich Leader SS; by order of the Reich Leader SS, however, you could issue it yourself.

Sincerely yours,
Heil Hitler!

[Signed] Sievers

1 enclosure:
Draft, of a letter to the Reich Security Main Office


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TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT NO-087
PROSECUTION EXHIBIT 181

LETTER FROM SIEVERS TO EICHMANN (COPY TO RUDOLF BRANDT), 21 JUNE 1943, CONCERNING SELECTION OF SUBJECTS FOR A SKELETON COLLECTION

[Handwritten] XI a 56
Ahnenerbe Office
Institute for Military Scientific Research
G/H/6, S2/He.

Berlin-Dahlem, Puecklerstrasse 16, 21 June 1943

Top Secret

G.R.Z.I. A.H Sk. No. 10
5 copies — 2d copy
no enclosures

To
Reich Security Main Office
Office IV B 4
Attention: SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann,
Berlin SW 11, Prinz Albrecht Strasse 8
Subject: Assembling of a skeleton collection.

With reference to your letter of 25 September 1942, IV B 4 3576/42g 1488, and the personal talks which have taken place in the meantime on the above matter, you are informed that the coworker in this office who was charged with the execution of the above-mentioned special task, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Bruno Beger, ended his work in the Auschwitz concentration camp on 15 June 1943 because of the existing danger of infectious diseases.

A total of 115 persons were worked on, 79 of whom were Jews, 2 Poles, 4 Asiatics, and 30 Jewesses. At present, these prisoners are separated according to sex and each group is accommodated in a hospital building of the Auschwitz concentration camp and are in quarantine.

For further processing of the selected persons an immediate transfer to the Natzweiler concentration camp is now imperative; this must be accelerated in view of the danger of infectious diseases in Auschwitz. Enclosed is a list containing the names of the selected persons.

It is requested that the necessary directives be issued.

Since with the transfer of the prisoners to Natzweiler the danger of spreading diseases exists, it is requested that an immediate shipment of disease-free and clean prisoners' clothing for 80 men and 30 women be ordered sent from Natzweiler to Auschwitz.

751

At the same time one must provide for the accommodation of the 30 women in the Natzweiler concentration camp for a short period.

[Signature] Sievers
SS Standartenfuehrer

Carbon copies to —
a. SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Beger
b. SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Prof. Dr. Hirt
c. SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. Brandt
PARTIAL TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT SIEVERS 45
SIEVERS DEFENSE EXHIBIT 46

EXTRACT FROM THE AFFIDAVIT OF DR. GISELA SCHMITZ, 27 MARCH 1947, ON SIEVERS' POSITION IN THE AHNENERBE SOCIETY AND HIS CONNECTION WITH THE SKELETON COLLECTION


* * * * * * * * * *
In 1937 I was appointed Secretary in the Research and Instruction Society, the Ahnenerbe, Registered Association, where I remained until the end of the war in 1945. During all these years I worked for Wolfram Sievers, who was Reich Business Manager, and I gained thereby a fairly comprehensive insight into the organization of the Ahnenerbe and into Sievers activity.

The organization of the Ahnenerbe during the time when I was attached to it was as follows:

Himmler was the president; Professor Wuest, Rector of Munich University, was his curator; Sievers was responsible to the latter as Reich Business Manager.

An internal code of procedure laid down as a regulation for the Reich Business Manager stipulated that all decisive functions were the concern of the department chief and curator of the Ahnenerbe. According to this all decisions had to be obtained by the Reich Business Manager from the department chief if they were not dealt with by the president. Professor Wuest had the right to report direct to Himmler as president on all questions; Sievers could only do so on administrative concerns, and then only when Himmler consulted him on special matters and requested a report of him.

Sievers' own sphere was financial and staff administration and the supervision of the business dealings of the Ahnenerbe. In scientific matters Sievers was denied the right to issue any orders. He was also forbidden personally to sign letters concerning scientific matters. However, as it was not always possible in practice to send all letters from Berlin to Munich, the domicile and permanent residence of the curator, for signature, Sievers often signed; Wuest then countersigned the copy.

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When in 1942 the Ahnenerbe became a department of the personal staff of the Reich Leader SS, Professor Wuest became department chief. He was thus made responsible for all matters of administration and personnel, which had hitherto been the responsibility of the Reich Business Manager. Himmler personally made it quite clear to Sievers that he was not to interfere in scientific affairs.

In this connection I mention briefly the Ahnenerbe diary which it was Sievers' duty, as Reich Business Manager, to write up. By express order of Himmler, all departments of the Reich Leader SS had to keep diaries. They were a hobby-horse of Himmler's, and failure to comply with this order would have had very unpleasant consequences for the person responsible. Sievers who was frequently away from Berlin used to dictate the diary entries on his return. I know that the entries would not always have been able to stand close examination — they were inaccurate in parts and sometimes fabricated. Sievers insisted upon keeping the diary ostensibly correct, so as not to offend Himmler. The reasons for this will be explained by a later part of my statement. Sievers also mentioned to me the collection of Jewish-Bolshevik skulls, which was planned by Professor Hirt of Strasbourg.

Document NO-085, Prosecution Exhibit 175 regarding the collection of Jewish skeletons has been submitted to me. With the exception of the last paragraph which begins with the words "For the preservation * * *", the report was — as far as I remember — drafted by Dr. Bruno Beger who had come from the SS Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA). * I first saw the report in the autumn of 1941. The report had already been circulated in all possible offices and one copy had also been sent to the Ahnenerbe. The reason why the report had also been sent to the Ahnenerbe are unknown to me; in any case, Sievers showed me this proposal with all signs of horror and defined it as a hybrid outgrowth of the propaganda which at that time used to describe the eastern nations as "subhuman." The report itself was filed away, as it did not concern us, or passed on to the chief of the Ahnenerbe, Professor Wuest, as it was really a "scientific" matter. One day Sievers told me that Himmler had mentioned this matter in a private conversation — I believe it was in connection with Professor Hirt — and ordered the document to be submitted after obtaining an opinion from Professor Hirt. Hirt then added the last paragraph. With this addition the report was forwarded to the personal staff of the Reich Leader SS and to Dr. Rudolf Brandt.

With regard to the Document NO-087, Prosecution Exhibit 181, as shown to me, I can state: the letter to the Reich Security Main Office bears the dictation reference S2/Ha. According to this, the letter was not dictated by Sievers himself, but — as I remember — by Dr.
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*See Case 8, United States vs. Ulrich Grelfelt, et al. in vols. IV and V.

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Beger who dictated the letter in the office of subdepartment Chief Wolff, whose reference number was S 2.

With regard to Document NO-088, Prosecution Exhibit 182, 1 can say that Professor Hirt had asked by telephone for a decision on the suggestions which appear at the end of this document. Sievers only passed this request of Hirt on to the personal staff of the Reich Leader SS.

Sievers spoke to me repeatedly about the experiments on humans and also about the collection of skeletons and always said that these things were very much against his inner feelings. Repeatedly, I had an opportunity to see how much Sievers suffered in this connection. He sometimes had pronounced periods of depression.


* * * * * * * * * *

TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT SIEVERS 54
SIEVERS DEFENSE EXHIBIT 50

REGULATIONS FOR THE COMMANDOS (EINSATZKOMMANDOS)* OF THE SECURITY POLICE AND THE SECURITY SERVICE TO BE ACTIVATED IN STALAGS

B 101
Enclosures 2
Berlin, 17 July 1941
Office IV
Top Secret

The activation of commandos will take place in accordance with the agreement of the Chief of the Security Police and Security Service and the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces as of 10 July 1941. The commandos will work independently according to special authorization and in consequence of the general regulations given to them in the limits of the camp organizations. Naturally, the commandos will keep close contact with the camp commander and the defense officers assigned to him.

The mission of the commandos is the political investigating of all camp inmates, the elimination and further treatment —

a. of all political, criminal, or in some other way unbearable elements among them.

b. of those persons who could be used for the reconstruction of the occupied territories.

For the execution of their mission, no additional means can be put at the disposal of the commandos. The Deutsche Fahndungsbuch
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*See Case 9, United States vs. Otto Ohlendorf, et al. in vol. IV.

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[German Wanted List] the Aufenthaltsermittlungsliste [Residence Locator List] and the Sonderfahndungsbuch UdSSR [Special Wanted List, Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic] will prove to be useful in only a small number of cases; the Sonderfahndungsbuch UdSSR is not sufficient, because it contains only a small part of Soviet Russians considered to be dangerous.

Therefore, the commandos must use their special knowledge and ability and rely on their own findings and self-acquired knowledge. Therefore, they will be able to start carrying out their mission only when they have gathered together appropriate material.

The commandos must use for their work as far as possible, at present and even later, the experiences of the camp commanders which the latter have collected meanwhile from observation of the prisoners and examinations of camp inmates.

Further, the commandos must make efforts from the beginning to seek out among the prisoners elements which appear reliable, regardless if there are Communists concerned or not, in order to use them for intelligence purposes inside of the camp and, if advisable, later in the occupied territories also.

By use of such informers and by use of all other existing possibilities, the discovery of all elements to be eliminated among the prisoners must succeed step by step at once. The commandos must learn for themselves, in every case, by means of short questioning of the informers and eventual questioning of other prisoners.

The information of one informer is not sufficient to designate a camp inmate to be a suspect without further proof; it must be confirmed in some way if possible.

Above all, the following must be discovered; all important functionaries of state and party,
especially —

Professional revolutionaries.

Functionaries of the Comintern.

All policy forming party functionaries of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and its subsidiary organizations in the central committees, in the regional and district committees.

All Peoples Commissars and their deputies.

All former Political Commissars in the Red Army.

Leading personalities of the Main and intermediate offices of the state authorities.

Members of the Soviet Russian intelligentsia.

All Jews.

All persons who are found to be agitators or fanatical Communists.

It is not less important, as mentioned already, to discover all those

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persons who could be used for the reconstruction, administration, and management of the conquered Russian territories.

Finally, all such persons must be secured who are still needed for the completion of further investigation, regardless if they are police investigations or other investigations, and for settling questions of general interest. Among them are all those especially who, because of their position and their knowledge, are able to give information about measures and working methods of the Soviet-Russian State, of the Communist Party, or of the Comintern.

In the final analysis, consideration must be given to origin in all decisions to be made. The leader of the Einsatzkommando will give a short report every week by telephone or an express letter to the Reich Security Main Office, containing:

1. Short description of their activities in the past week.

2. Number of all definitely suspicious persons (report of number sufficient).

3. Individual names of all persons found to be functionaries of the Comintern, leading functionaries of the party, Peoples Commissars, leading personalities, and political commissars.

4. Number of all persons found not to be suspicious informers, with a short description of their position.

A. Prisoners of war.

B. Civilians.

On the basis of those activity reports the Reich Security Main Office will issue immediately the further measures to be applied. For the measures to be applied on the basis of this successive directive, the commandos are to demand the surrender of the prisoners involved from the camp command.

The camp commandants have received orders from the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to approve such requests.

Executions are not to be held in the camp or in the immediate vicinity of the camp. If the camps in the General Government are in the immediate vicinity of the border, then the prisoners are to he taken for special treatment, if possible, into former Soviet-Russian territory.

Should executions be necessary for reasons of camp discipline, then the leader of the Einsatzkommando must apply to the camp commander for it.

The commandos have to keep lists about the special treatments carried out and must contain —

Current number.

Family name and first name.

Date and place of birth.

Military rank.

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Profession.

Last residence.

Reason for special treatment.

Day and place of special treatment (card file).

In regard to executions to be carried out and to the possible removal of reliable civilians and the removal of informers for the Einsatz group in the occupied territories, the leader of the Einsatzkommando must make an agreement with the nearest state police office, as well as with the commandant of the security police unit and security service and beyond these with the chief of the Einsatz group concerned in the occupied territories.

Reports of that kind are to be transmitted for information to the Reich Security Main Office, IV A 1. Excellent behavior during and after duty, the best cooperation with the camp commanders, and careful examinations are the duty of all leaders and members of the Einsatzkommando.

The members of the Einsatzkommando must be constantly aware of the special importance of the missions entrusted to them.


EXTRACT FROM THE TESTIMONY OF DEFENDANT RUDOLF BRANDT*

DIRECT EXAMINATION

* * * * * * * * * *
Dr. Kauffmann: Witness, I now put to you documents concerning, among other things, procuring skulls of Jewish-Bolshevist Commissars. Please look at page 1 of Document NO-085, Prosecution Exhibit 175. This is a letter from the Ahnenerbe of 9 February 1942, addressed to you. It is a secret communication, and it bears Sievers' signature. There are two annexes to this document. One of them concerns research into microscopy, and the other one concerns the suggestion for procuring the afore-mentioned skeletons for the purpose of scientific research. Now, I ask you whether you received this document, whether you are familiar with the contents of this letter, and whether you still remember it today?

DEFENDANT Rudolf Brandt: I received the letter with the inclosures, but I recall as little about this as I recall about the other matters.

Q. Do you wish to say then that you did not read the two inclosures to this letter?

A. That is what I really should like to say because, as I have already said, reports which were destined for the Reich Leader were put with the mail that be was to read personally, and it would have been the
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*Complete testimony is recorded in mimeographed transcript, 24, 25, 26 March 1947, pp. 4869-4994.

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same in the case of Professor Hirt's report, which is really incomprehensible to a lay reader.

Q. Perhaps I might point out to the Tribunal that the two inclosures are wrongly bound in the document. The first inclosure refers to the microscopic research and the second inclosure to the procuring of skeletons. Is that also your opinion, Herr Brandt?

A. Yes. That is how the letter states it. First, comes the microscopic study and then the other.

Q. Now, I ask you, with particular regard to the fact that you are testifying under oath, did you know in detail that, as can be seen from this report, human beings were to be killed and that the skulls or skeletons were then to be sent to the University of Strasbourg? Did you know these details?

A. No. I did not know these details.

Q. Would you tell us just what you did know, in broad terms?

A. I knew the contents of the letter which I sent on to Eichmann.

Q. This is Document NO-116, Prosecution Exhibit 178. In this letter you inform Eichmann that everything necessary would be done for Professor Hirt to build up this collection of skeletons, and you say further that SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Sievers will communicate with Eichmann as to the details of this. I now ask you, who is Eichmann?

A. I do not think that I had any idea who Eichmann was at that time. Sievers sent me the draft of this letter, which I certainly did not send on in this form as it appears here. As was always the case, I showed it to Himmler, and only then did I send it on. I am quite sure that I heard Eichmann's name then for the first time. I did not know him otherwise, nor did I know him later.

Q. Can you not tell us whether you did not have some idea as to what was going on here in this whole business? When, for instance, one heard that a collection of skeletons was to be made, then one would surely ask oneself what was really going on?

A. I certainly had no other ideas concerning this matter than those that would normally arise in connection with a collection of skeletons for anatomical purposes; and it would never have occurred to me that any prisoners would be used for this except those who had died a normal death.

Q. Did you work on this affair independently thereafter, or did you submit the matter to Himmler for him to decide and arrange?

A. It was submitted to Himmler, like all other questions. To begin with I was not thoroughly versed in such matters, and secondly, owing to my lack of technical knowledge, I could not give orders or instructions for it to be carried out.

Q. I draw your attention now to Document NO-087, Prosecution Exhibit 181, again a letter to Eichmann marked "secret", dated 21

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1943. The letter was apparently sent by Sievers with copies June for two other persons and also with a copy to be sent to you. This letter says that altogether 115 persons would be affected and that the selected persons should be sent to the concentration camp at Natzweiler. How would such a letter be handled by you in your registry office — I refer now to the copy which was sent to you? Did you again submit it to Himmler, and did you or someone else lay the letter aside?

A. I do not remember ever having seen this letter. The file note on it bears an initial that is not mine, but that of my collaborator Berg. He also initialed for filing several of the documents that are in the document book.

Q. Now, please look at the file note of Berg. (NO-091, Pros. Ex. 183.) Would you say that that is the same Berg who initialed the foregoing document?

A. Yes. That is the same Berg.

Q. Now, please look at Document NO-091. Here it says, "Note — for SS Standartenfuehrer Dr. Brandt", and it is signed by Berg. This reproduces a talk that Berg had with Sievers; do you remember seeing this notation?

A. I do not remember having seen it.

Q. Let me point out the date, 26 October 1944.

A. That was the last day of our stay at our Fast Prussian quarters. The Russians were only about 30 to 40 kilometers away. Berg would have made the note so that I could get a final report to Himmler. As, however, we had to clear out by that evening, there were more important things to do than to submit such a memorandum, so that possibly he did not show it to me at all.


* * * * * * * * * *

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michael mills
Member
Posts: 8868
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by michael mills » 21 Aug 2004 05:05

I personally see nothing wrong with using the body parts of persons who have been legally put to death for research purposes, eg for inclusion in a collection of skeletons.

I recall that a few years ago, the corpse of a condemned man executed in the United States was cut into very thin slices in order to make a computer image of the entire human body.

The issue is not so much the using of the corpse of an executed person for research purposes, but rather whether the putting to death of the person whose body was so used was or was not legal, was or was not an execution of sentence of death passed after due process of law.

it is apparent that the defence put forward by Sievers was that he did not cause the death of the persons selected for killing for the purpose of making their skeletons available, but that he was making use of the bodies of persons who had already been sentenced to death by the German Government.

His claim was that the selection made by him was not a selection for death, since he was making a selection of individuals from a large group of persons who were already legally sentenced to death. In support of that claim, Sievers adduced the Heydrich order of 17 July 1941, according to which Soviet prisoners belonging to certain defined categories were to be executed. Sievers' argument was that that order constituted a legal sentence of death by the German Government, and that the persons selected by him as experimental subjects were legally put to death since they fell within the categories for summary execution under that order.

Sievers' argument does have some merit. If Sievers really believed that the order of 17 July 1941 constituted a legal sentence of death by the German Government, and that the persons selected by him belonged to the category of persons legally sentenced to death under that order, then prima facie there should be nothing illegal about the killing of those persons and his use of their bodies for research purposes.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23540
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Post by David Thompson » 21 Aug 2004 06:33

Michael -- Sievers probably would have had better luck with the defense you suggest than the one he actually used. As you are no doubt aware, the American military tribunal was unimpressed with Sievers’ argument in that and the other matters with which he was charged. The tribunal convicted Sievers and on 20 Aug 1947 sentenced him to death by hanging. He was executed by American military authorities at Landsberg-am-Lech prison 2 Jun 1948. Here is the opinion and judgment of the court against Sievers, from NMT vol. 2, pp. 253-63. The skeleton collection portion appears at pp. 261-63:
SIEVERS

The defendant Sievers is charged under counts two and three of the indictment with special responsibility for, and participation in, High-Altitude, Freezing, Malaria, Lost Gas, Sea-Water,

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Epidemic Jaundice, and Typhus Experiments, and with extermination of Jews to complete a skeleton collection. Under count four of the indictment, he is charged with being a member of an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, namely, the SS.

The prosecution has abandoned the charge of participation in the Epidemic Jaundice experiments, and hence, this charge will not be considered further.

Sievers is one of the three defendants who are not physicians. He joined the NSDAP in 1929 and renewed his membership in the Nazi Party in 1933. He joined the SS at the end of 1935 on the suggestion of Himmler. In this organization he attained the rank of a Standartenfuehrer (colonel).

From 1 July 1935 until the war ended, Sievers was a member of Himmler's personal staff and Reich Business Manager of the Ahnenerbe Society. According to a statute of 1 January 1939, the purpose of the Ahnenerbe was to support scientific research concerning the culture and heritage of the Nordic race. The Board of Directors was composed of Himmler as president, Dr. Wuest as curator, and Sievers as the business manager. Sievers was responsible for the business organization administration and the budget of the Ahnenerbe. The place of business was Berlin. Sievers supported and participated in the medical experiments which are the subject of the indictment, primarily through the Institute of Military Scientific Research which was established by order of Himmler dated 7 July 1942 and was administratively attached to the Ahnenerbe.

On 1 January 1942 Himmler ordered the establishment of an entomological institute; in March 1942 the Institute Dr. Rascher in Dachau; and in the first month of the year 1942, the Institute Dr. Hirt, at Strasbourg. These subsequently became part of the Institute for Military Scientific Research.

Sievers was, for all practical purposes, the acting head of the Ahnenerbe. In this capacity he was subordinated to Himmler and regularly reported to him on the affairs of this Society. The top secret correspondence of Himmler concerning the Ahnenerbe was sent to Sievers. The charter of the Ahnenerbe defines Sievers' duties as follows:
"The Reich Business Manager handles the business affairs of the community; he is in charge of the business organization and administration. He is responsible for the drawing up of the budget and for the administration of the treasury."
Sievers was responsible for the entire administrative problems of the secretary's office, bookkeeping and treasury. Besides that

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he also had to manage the Ahnenerbe publishing house. In June 1943 Professor Dr. Mentzel, who among other things was Chief of the Business Managing Advisory Council of the Reich Research Council, appointed Sievers as his deputy. By this act Sievers did not become a member of the Reich Research Council but held only an honorary position.

In a letter to the defendant Rudolf Brandt, dated 28 January 1943, Sievers defines his position as Reich Business Manager of the Ahnenerbe as follows:
"My duty merely consists in smoothing the way for the research men and seeing that the tasks ordered by the Reichsfuehrer SS are carried out in the quickest possible way. On one thing I certainly can form an opinion; that is, on who is doing the quickest job."
Sievers received orders directly from Himmler on matters of research assignments for the Ahnenerbe and he reported directly to Himmler on such experiments. Sievers devoted his efforts to obtaining the funds, materials, and equipment needed by the research workers. The materials obtained by Sievers included concentration camp inmates to be used as experimental subjects. When the experiments were under way, Sievers made certain that they were being performed in a satisfactory manner. In this connection, Sievers necessarily exercised his own independent judgment and had to familiarize himself with the details of such assignments.

HIGH-ALTITUDE EXPERIMENTS

The details of these experiments are discussed in other portions of this judgment. Sievers' activities in the high-altitude experiments are revealed clearly by the evidence. Rascher, in a letter to Himmler dated 5 April 1942, states as follows:
"SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Sievers took a whole day off to Watch some of the interesting standard experiments and may have given you a brief report * * * I am very much indebted to Obersturmbannfuehrer Sievers as he has shown a very active interest in my work in every respect."
Sievers admitted that he reported to Himmler about his visit to Dachau. On the basis of the reports of Sievers and Rascher, Himmler authorized Rascher to continue the high-altitude experiments in Dachau, in the course of which the evidence shows that 180 to 200 inmates were experimented upon; that 70 to 80 of them died. Rascher became associated with the Ahnenerbe in

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March 1942, and during the entire time covered by the period of the high-altitude experiments, Rascher was attached to the Ahnenerbe and performed the high-altitude experiments with its assistance. On 20 July 1942, when the final report on high-altitude experiments was submitted to Himmler, Rascher's name appeared on the letterhead of the Ahnenerbe Institute for Military Scientific Research as shown by the cover letter, and the inclosed report bore the statement that the experiments had been carried out in conjunction with the research and instruction association "Das Ahnenerbe". Sievers had actual knowledge of the criminal aspects of the Rascher experiments. He was notified that Dachau inmates were to be used. He himself inspected the experiments. Sievers admitted that Rascher told him that several died as a result of the high-altitude experiments.

Under these facts Sievers is specially chargeable with the criminal aspects of these experiments.

FREEZING EXPERIMENTS

Before the high-altitude experiments had actually been completed, freezing experiments were ordered to be performed at Dachau. They were conducted from August 1942 to the early part of 1943 by Holzloehner, Finke and Rascher, all of whom were officers in the Medical Services of the Luftwaffe. Details of the freezing experiments have been given elsewhere in this judgment.

In May 1943 Rascher was transferred to the Waffen SS and then proceeded alone to conduct freezing experiments in Dachau until May 1945. Rascher advised the defendant Rudolf Brandt that Poles and Russians had been used as subjects.

The witness Neff testified that the defendant Sievers visited the experimental station quite frequently during the freezing experiments. He testified further that in September 1942 he received orders to take the hearts and lungs of 5 experimental subjects killed in the experiments to Professor Hirt in Strasbourg for further scientific study; that the travel warrant for the trip was made out by Sievers; and that the Ahnenerbe society paid the expenses for the transfer of the bodies. One of the 5 experimental subjects killed was a Dutch citizen.

Neff's testimony is corroborated in large part by the affidavits of the defendants Rudolf Brandt and Becker-Freyseng, by the testimony of the witnesses Lutz, Michalowsky and Vieweg, and by the documentary evidence in the record. In the Sievers' diary, there are numerous instances of Sievers' activities in the aid of Rascher. On 1 February 1943 Sievers noted efforts in obtaining

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apparatus, implements and chemicals for Rascher's experiments. On 6 and 21 January 1944 Sievers noted the problem of location. Rascher reported to Sievers periodically concerning the status and details of the freezing experiments.

It is plain from the record that the relationship of Sievers and Rascher in the performance of freezing experiments required Sievers to make the preliminary arrangements for the performance of the experiments to familiarize himself with the progress of the experiments by personal inspection, to furnish necessary equipment and material, including human beings used during the freezing experiments, to receive and make progress reports concerning Rascher, and to handle the matter of evaluation and publication of such reports. Basically, such activities constituted a performance of his duties as defined by Sievers in his letter of 28 January 1943 to Rudolf Brandt, in which he stated that he smoothed the way for research workers and saw to it that Himmler's orders were carried out.

Under these facts Sievers is chargeable with the criminal activities in these experiments.

MALARIA EXPERIMENTS

Details of these experiments are given elsewhere in this judgment. These experiments were performed at Dachau by Schilling and Ploetner. The evidence shows that Sievers had knowledge of the nature and purpose of these criminal enterprises and supported them in his official position.

LOST GAS EXPERIMENTS

These experiments were conducted in the Natzweiler concentration camp under the supervision of Professor Hirt of the University of Strasbourg. The Ahnenerbe Society and the defendant Sievers supported this research on behalf of the SS. The arrangement for the payment of the research subsidies of the Ahnenerbe was made by Sievers. The defendant Sievers participated in these experiments by actively collaborating with the defendants Karl Brandt and Rudolf Brandt and with Hirt and his principal assistant, Dr. Wimmer. The record shows that Sievers was in correspondence with Hirt at least as early as January 1942, and that he established contact between Himmler and Hirt.

In a letter of 11 September 1942 to Gluecks, Sievers wrote that the necessary conditions existed in Natzweiler "for carrying out our military scientific research work". He requested that Gluecks issue the necessary authorization for Hirt, Wimmer, and Kieselbach to enter Natzweiler, and that provision be made for their board and accommodations. The letter also stated:

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"The experiments which are to be performed on prisoners are to be carried out in four rooms of an already existing medical barrack. Only slight changes in the construction of the building are required, in particular the installation of the hood which can be produced with very little material. In accordance with attached plan of the construction management at Natzwieler, I request that necessary orders be issued to same to carry out the reconstruction. All the expenses arising out of our activity at Natzweiler will be covered by this office."
In a memorandum of 3 November 1942 to the defendant Rudolf Brandt, Sievers complained about certain difficulties which had arisen in Natzweiler because of the lack of cooperation from the camp officials. He seemed particularly outraged by the fact that the camp officials were asking that the experimental prisoners be paid for. A portion of the memorandum follows:
"When I think of our military research work conducted at the concentration camp Dachau, I must praise and call special attention to the generous and understanding way in which our work was furthered there and to the cooperation we were given. Payment of prisoners was never discussed. It seems as if at Natzweiler they are trying to make as much money as possible out of this matter. We are not conducting these experiments, as a matter of fact, for the sake of some fixed scientific idea, but to be of practical help to the armed forces and beyond that, to the German people in a possible emergency."
Brandt was requested to give his help in a comradely fashion in setting up the necessary conditions at Natzweiler. The defendant Rudolf Brandt replied to this memorandum on 3 December 1942 and told Sievers that he had had occasion to speak to Pohl concerning these difficulties, and that they would be remedied.

The testimony of the witness Holl was that approximately 220 inmates of Russian, Polish, Czech, and German nationality were experimented upon by Hirt and his collaborators, and that approximately 50 died. None of the experimental subjects volunteered. During the entire period of these experiments, Hirt was associated with the Ahnenerbe Society.

In early 1944 Hirt and Wimmer summarized their findings from the Lost experiments in a report entitled "Proposed Treatment of Poisoning Caused by Lost." The report was described as from the Institute for Military Scientific Research, Department H of the Ahnenerbe, located at the Strasbourg Anatomical Institute. Light, medium, and heavy injuries due to Lost gas are

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mentioned. Sievers received several copies of this report. On 31 March 1944, after Karl Brandt had received a Fuehrer Decree giving him broad powers in the field of chemical warfare, Sievers informed Brandt about Hirt's work and gave him a copy of the report. This is proved by Sievers' letter to Rudolf Brandt on 11 April 1944. Karl Brandt admitted that the wording of the report made it clear that experiments had been conducted on human beings.

Sievers testified that on 25 January 1943, he went to Natzweiler concentration camp and consulted with the camp authorities concerning the arrangements to be made for Hirt's Lost experiments. These arrangements included the obtaining of laboratories and experimental subjects. Sievers testified that the Lost experiments were harmful. On the visit of 25 January 1943, Sievers saw ten persons who had been subjected to Lost experiments and watched Hirt change the bandages on one of the persons. Sievers testified that in March 1943 he asked Hirt whether any of the experimental subjects had suffered harm from the experiments and was told by Hirt that two of the experimental subjects had died due to other causes.

It is evident that Sievers was criminally connected with these experiments.

SEA-WATER EXPERIMENTS

These experiments were conducted at Dachau from July through September 1944. Details of these experiments are explained elsewhere in the judgment.

The function of the Ahnenerbe in the performance of seawater experiments conducted at Dachau from July through September 1944 was chiefly in connection with the furnishing of space and equipment for the experiments. Sievers made these necessary arrangements on behalf of the Ahnenerbe. As a result of Schroeder's request to Himmler through Grawitz for permission to perform the sea-water experiments on inmates in Dachau, Himmler directed on 8 July 1944 that the experiments be made on gypsies and three other persons with other racial qualities as control subjects. Sievers was advised by Himmler's office of the above authorization for experiments at the Rascher station at Dachau.

On 27 June 1944, Rascher was replaced by Ploetner as head of the Ahnenerbe Institute for Military Scientific Research at Dachau. Sievers, on 20 July, went to Dachau and conferred with Ploetner of the Ahnenerbe Institute and the defendant Beiglboeck, who was to perform the experiments, concerning the execution the sea-water experiments and the availability of working

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space for them. Sievers agreed to supply working space in Ploetner's department and at the Ahnenerbe Entomological Institute.

On 26 July 1944, Sievers made a written report to Grawitz concerning details of his conference at Dachau. Sievers wrote that 40 experimental persons could be accommodated at "our" research station, that the Ahnenerbe would supply a laboratory, and that Dr. Ploetner would give his assistance, help, and advice to the Luftwaffe physicians performing the experiments. Sievers also stated the number and assignment of the personnel to be employed, estimating that the work would cover a period of three weeks and designated 23 July 1944 as the date of commencement, provided that experimental persons were available and the camp commander had received the necessary order from Himmler. In conclusion, Sievers expressed his hope that the arrangements which he had made would permit a successful conduct of the experiments and requested that acknowledgment be made to Himmler as a participant in the experiments.

In his testimony Sievers admitted that he had written the above letter and had conferred with Beiglboeck at Dachau. As the letter indicates, Sievers knew that concentration camp inmates were to be used.

Sievers had knowledge of and criminally participated in seawater experiments.

TYPHUS EXPERIMENTS

Detailed description of these experiments is contained elsewhere in this judgment. Sievers participated in the criminal typhus experiments conducted by Haagen on concentration camp inmates at Natzweiler by making the necessary arrangements in connection with securing experimental subjects, handling administrative problems incident to the experiments, and by furnishing the Ahnenerbe station with its equipment in Natzweiler for their performance.

On 16 August 1943, when Haagen was preparing to transfer his typhus experiments from Schirmeck to Natzweiler, he requested Sievers to make available a hundred concentration camp inmates for his research. This is seen from a letter of 30 September 1943 from Sievers to Haagen in which he states that he will be glad to assist, and that he is accordingly contacting the proper source to have the "desired personnel" placed at Haagen's disposal. As a result of Sievers' efforts, a hundred inmates were shipped from Auschwitz to Natzweiler for Haagen's experiments. These were found to be unfit for experimentation because of their pitiful physical condition. A second group of one hundred was

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then made available. Some of these were used by Haagen as experimental subjects.

That the experiments were carried out in the Ahnenerbe experimental station in Natzweiler is proved by excerpts from monthly reports of the camp doctor in Natzweiler. A number of deaths occurred among non-German experimental subjects as a direct result of the treatment to which they were subjected.

POLYGAL EXPERIMENTS

Evidence has been introduced during the course of the trial to show that experiments to test the efficacy of a blood coagulant "polygal" were conducted on Dachau inmates by Rascher. The Sievers' diary shows that the defendant had knowledge of activities concerning the production of polygal, and that he lent his support to the conduct of the experiments.

JEWISH SKELETON COLLECTION

Sievers is charged under the indictment with participation in the killing of 112 Jews who were selected to complete a skeleton collection for the Reich University of Strasbourg.

Responding to a request by the defendant Rudolf Brandt, Sievers submitted to him on 9 February 1942 a report by Dr. Hirt of the University of Strasbourg on the desirability of securing a Jewish skeleton collection. In this report, Hirt advocated outright murder of "Jewish Bolshevik Commissars" for the procurement of such a collection. On 27 February 1942, Rudolf Brandt informed Sievers that Himmler would support Hirt's work and would place everything necessary at his disposal. Brandt asked Sievers to inform Hirt accordingly and to report again on the subject. On 2 November 1942 Sievers requested Brandt to make the necessary arrangements with the Reich Main Security Office for providing 150 Jewish inmates from Auschwitz to carry out this plan. On 6 November, Brandt informed Adolf Eichmann, the Chief of Office IV B/4 (Jewish Affairs) of the Reich Main Security Office to put everything at Hirt's disposal which was necessary for the completion of the skeleton collection.

From Sievers' letter to Eichmann of 21 June 1943, it is apparent that SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Beger, a collaborator of the Ahnenerbe Society, carried out the preliminary work for the assembling of the skeleton collection in the Auschwitz concentration camp on 79 Jews, 30 Jewesses, 2 Poles, and 4 Asiatics. The corpses of the victims were sent in three shipments to the Anatomical Institute of Hirt in the Strasbourg University.

When the Allied Armies were threatening to overrun Stras-

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bourg early in September 1944, Sievers dispatched to Rudolf Brandt the following teletype message:
"Subject: Collection of Jewish Skeletons.

"In conformity with the proposal of 9 February 1942 and with the consent of 23 February 1942 * * * SS Sturmbannfuehrer Professor Hirt planned the hitherto missing collection of skeletons. Due to the extent of the scientific work connected herewith, the preparation of the skeletons is not yet concluded. Hirt asks with respect to the time needed for 80 specimens, and in case the endangering of Strasbourg has to be reckoned with, how to proceed with the collection situated in the dissecting room of the anatomical institute. He is able to carry out the maceration and thus render them irrecognizable. Then, however, part of the entire work would have been partly done in vain, and it would be a great scientific loss for this unique collection, because hominit casts could not be made afterwards. The skeleton collection as such is not conspicuous. Viscera could be declared as remnants of corpses, apparently left in the anatomical institute by the French and ordered to be cremated. Decision on the following proposals is requested:

"1. Collection can be preserved.
"2. Collection is to be partly dissolved.
"3. Entire collection is to be dissolved.
"Sievers"
The pictures of the corpses and the dissecting rooms of the Institute, taken by the French authorities after the liberation of Strasbourg, point up the grim story of these deliberate murders to which Sievers was a party.

Sievers knew from the first moment he received Hirt's report of 9 February 1942 that mass murder was planned for the procurement of the skeleton collection. Nevertheless he actively collaborated in the project, sent an employee of the Ahnenerbe to make the preparatory selections in the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and provided for the transfer of the victims from Auschwitz to Natzweiler. He made arrangements that the collection be destroyed.

Sievers' guilt under this specification is shown without question.

Sievers offers two purported defenses to the charges against him (1) that he acted pursuant to superior orders; (2) that he was a member of a resistance movement.

The first defense is wholly without merit. There is nothing to show that in the commission of these ghastly crimes, Sievers

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acted entirely pursuant to orders. True, the basic policies or projects which he carried through were decided upon by his superiors, but in the execution of the details Sievers had an unlimited power of discretion. The defendant says that in his position he could not have refused an assignment. The fact remains that the record shows the case of several men who did, and who have lived to tell about it.

Sievers' second matter of defense is equally untenable. In support of the defense, Sievers offered evidence by which he hoped to prove that as early as 1933 he became a member of a secret resistance movement which plotted to overthrow the Nazi Government and to assassinate Hitler and Himmler; that as a leading member of the group, Sievers obtained the appointment as Reich Business Manager of the Ahnenerbe so that he could be close to Himmler and observe his movements; that in this position he became enmeshed in the revolting crimes, the subject matter of this indictment; that he remained as business manager upon advice of his resistance leader to gain vital information which would hasten the day of the overthrow of the Nazi Government and the liberation of the helpless peoples coming under its domination.

Assuming all these things to be true, we cannot see how they may be used as a defense for Sievers. The fact remains that murders were committed with cooperation of the Ahnenerbe upon countless thousands of wretched concentration camp inmates who had not the slightest means of resistance. Sievers directed the program by which these murders were committed.

It certainly is not the law that a resistance worker can commit no crime, and least of all, against the very people he is supposed to be protecting.

MEMBERSHIP IN A CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION

Under count four of the indictment, Wolfram Sievers is charged with being a member of an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, namely, the SS. The evidence shows that Wolfram Sievers became a member of the SS in 1935 and remained a member of that organization to the end of the war. As a member of the SS he was criminally implicated in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as charged under counts two and three of the indictment.

CONCLUSION

Military Tribunal I finds and adjudges the defendant Wolfram Sievers guilty under counts two, three and four of the indictment.

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alf
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Post by alf » 21 Aug 2004 07:02

The Mazal Library at http://www.mazal.org/NO-series/A-NO-Index-003.htm holds a number of documents from the era on Dr Hirt. Documents No-087-099 and Documents 0120-0129 cover a lot of the information

I fail to see any proof offered by Michaelfor his personal opinions. The prisoners were not convicted criminals who had full access to the law etc, they are clearly jewish priosnrs sent to concentration camps by virtue of their religon, that should never be a crime in any society but in Nazi Germany it was life and death.

That arguement is fallicous, it infers that any Government has the right to murder any it's citzens and those of the countries it has invaded for its own purposes. It was a warcrime and a crime against humanity, nothing less.

Image

Ideally Hirt should have conducted studies on Nazi's and their worshipperes to see if there was any physiological difference for their beliefs. structures.

David Thompson
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Post by David Thompson » 21 Aug 2004 07:28

Here are two photographs of Sievers -- one courtesy of philmil from the Wolfram Sievers thread at:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=37053

the other courtesy of the US Army, from the photo collection of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. There are some photos of Dr. Med. August Hirt on the SS-Ahnenerbe thread at:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=56559
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xcalibur
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Post by xcalibur » 21 Aug 2004 20:09

michael mills wrote:I personally see nothing wrong with using the body parts of persons who have been legally put to death for research purposes, eg for inclusion in a collection of skeletons.

I recall that a few years ago, the corpse of a condemned man executed in the United States was cut into very thin slices in order to make a computer image of the entire human body.

The issue is not so much the using of the corpse of an executed person for research purposes, but rather whether the putting to death of the person whose body was so used was or was not legal, was or was not an execution of sentence of death passed after due process of law.

it is apparent that the defence put forward by Sievers was that he did not cause the death of the persons selected for killing for the purpose of making their skeletons available, but that he was making use of the bodies of persons who had already been sentenced to death by the German Government.

His claim was that the selection made by him was not a selection for death, since he was making a selection of individuals from a large group of persons who were already legally sentenced to death. In support of that claim, Sievers adduced the Heydrich order of 17 July 1941, according to which Soviet prisoners belonging to certain defined categories were to be executed. Sievers' argument was that that order constituted a legal sentence of death by the German Government, and that the persons selected by him as experimental subjects were legally put to death since they fell within the categories for summary execution under that order.

Sievers' argument does have some merit. If Sievers really believed that the order of 17 July 1941 constituted a legal sentence of death by the German Government, and that the persons selected by him belonged to the category of persons legally sentenced to death under that order, then prima facie there should be nothing illegal about the killing of those persons and his use of their bodies for research purposes.

So, assuming Sievers believed all this to be on the legal "up and up" why were all the communications regarding this matter classified?

Furthermore, why the interest in either disbursing or destroying the collection (and, as well the suggestion to shift responsibility to the French) as the Allies approached?

These are indicative of consciousness of guilt.

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Post by michael mills » 22 Aug 2004 05:44

Alf wrote:
I fail to see any proof offered by Michaelfor his personal opinions. The prisoners were not convicted criminals who had full access to the law etc, they are clearly jewish priosnrs sent to concentration camps by virtue of their religon, that should never be a crime in any society but in Nazi Germany it was life and death.

That arguement is fallicous, it infers that any Government has the right to murder any it's citzens and those of the countries it has invaded for its own purposes. It was a warcrime and a crime against humanity, nothing less.
Alf might be interested in the opinions expressed by the Jewish theologian Richard L. Rubenstein, in his book "The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future". on the legality (as opposed to morality) of the actions of the German Government (page 87 ff; my emphases):
One of the most difficult conclsusions to which we have come in this reflection on Auschwitz is that the Nazis committed no crime at Auschwitz since no law or political order protected those who were first condemned to statelessness and then to the camps. That observation was not offered as a defence of the Nazis. On the contrary, it was offered as an unpleasant example of the ironic and unanticipated consequences of the spread of "civilization" and "progress" so that today no corner of the earth lacks some form of political organisation. Unfortunately, the demise of the Third reich has not put an end to the problem of statelessness. Sonner or later there will be other civil or international conflicts that will deprive large numbers of men of the most elemental of human rights, their membership in a political order, with consequences as yet unforeseen.

Yet, if Auschwitz has taught us the hazards of statelessness, it can also teach us that membership in a political community is no longer a guarantee of the most elemental human rights. With the collapse of every credible religious and moral restraint on the state and with the inevitable depersonalisation of the relations between the rulers and the ruled, the state's sovereignty can achieve an ultimacy unimpeded by any contending claim. In the American system, the citizen is still protected by a series of constitutional restraints on the state's power. Nevertheless, we have already seen how the Nixon administration attempted to ignore those restraints and no one can tell what a Nixon-like administration might do in the future. In any event, no one questions the legal right of the state to execute its citizens when they have been given the benefit of due process of the law, but no one has been able to set quantitative limits to the right of execution. Furthermore, the Jews were executed in accordance with German law, and it is not inconceivable that the slaughter of World War I was an unwitting form of mass execution visted by governmetns on their own men.

The unlimited character of the state's sovereignty even in the extermination of its own citizens was recognised by Justice Robert Jackson, the presiding American judge at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. Jackson expressed the opinion that the Nazis involved in the extermination of the Jews could not be prosecuted for murdering Jews of German nationality. He argued that no state can sit in judgement of another's treatment of its minorities. Jackson felt compelled to assert the ultimacy of national sovereignty over all conflicting claims, even the right to life itself. He did not, of course, approve of the Nazi actions. he sought to include the extermination project in the catalogue of war crimes, but only because the project was pursued as part of a war of unjustified aggression, not because the extermination was a crime in itself. The right of a state to define the conditions under which capital punishment will be inflicted has not been impaired by the Holocaust.
The emp

And page 89 ff:
The dreadful history of Europe's Jews has demonstrated that rights do not belong to men by nature (author's emphasis). To the extent that men have rights, they have them only as members of the polis, the political community, and there is no polis or Christian commonwealth of nations. All that men possess by nature is the necessity to participate in the incessant life and death struggle for existence of any animal. Furthermore, unlike other animals, men have no instinctual structure that regulates their behaviour and limits their aggression against other members of the same species. Outside of the polis there are no inborn restraints on the human exercise of destructive power.

When the Nazis sought to justify to themselves the extermination project, they often used arguments fron nature. They argued that in nature it is the fate of the weak to perish. The Nazi argument rested on the accurate perception that no political order upheld the rights of their victims or defined the relations between warring nations. In nature men have the same rights as fleas, mosquitos or beasts of prey. The Nazis emphasised this by using language that indicated that their victims had been expelled from the human world of politics and condemned at best to the status of beasts of burden.
And page 91 ff.:
Similarly, if it is no crime for a state to exterminate its citizens or subject peoples, it is also no crime to inflict upon them the kind of slavery the Nazis inflicted upon the camp inmates. This fact was as clearly understood by the Bolsheviks as by the Nazis. Both the Nazis and the Bolsheviks under Stalin have demonstrated that a properly organised modern state can inflict total domination upon any segment of its population it chooses. Unfortunately, there are no categories arising out of traditional political, religious, or ethical norms with which such problems can realistically be confronted. It is, of course, possible to reiterate traditional affirmations about the innate dignity of human beings, but the existence of bureaucratically administered societies of total domination is the most compelling empirical refutation of such claims. In the face of new forms of domination, assertions about innate human dignity are either false or meaningless.

PF
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Re: The skeleton collection of Dr. Hirt

Post by PF » 27 May 2009 15:35

Hirt's 86 named Jewish Victims at http://www.die-namen-der-nummern.de/

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