Inside the RSHA

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Roberto
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Inside the RSHA

Postby Roberto » 20 Mar 2002 18:02

SS Obersturmführer Walter Rauff, head of division II D at the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, the Reich Main Security Office, became a celebrity due to a number of very detailed and telling letters that were written by or addressed to him. The most notable of these were the following:

1. Letter to the Criminal Technical Institute dated 26 March 1942. A facsimile, transcription of the original text and translation can be viewed under the following link:

http://www.holocaust-history.org/194203 ... nderwagen/

2. Letter by Dr. August Becker to Rauff dated 16 May 1942. A transcription of the original German text can be found under the following link:

http://www.ns-archiv.de/einsatzgruppen/ ... auff.shtml

A partial translation of that letter can be found under the following link:

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/b/ ... uff.051642

3. Letter by Willy Just to Rauff dated 5 June 1942. A facsimile, transcription of the original text and translation can be viewed under the following link:

http://www.holocaust-history.org/194206 ... zialwagen/

After the war, Rauff managed to escape from American captivity in Italy and found safe haven in Chile, from where he could not be extradited to Germany or any other country under the Chilean statute of limitations.

In 1972, however, he voluntarily made a deposition in a criminal procedure against another SS officer, Bruno Streckenbach, before the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Santiago de Chile. A transcription of the protocol of this deposition can be found under the following link:

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/r/ ... f.1972.txt

What follows is my translation of this transcription.

[From: ZSL, II 415 AR-Z 1310/63-E32, Bl.534-549,
StA Hamburg Az. 147 Js 31/67.
Copy kindly made available by ZSL.
(Blackening due to data confidentiality reasons were rendered with XXXXXXXXX)]

[Reference 45 from:
Sonderdruck: M.Beer, _Die Entwicklung der Gaswagen beim Mord an den Juden_,
Miszelle, VfZ 37(3), pp.403-417 (1987)]

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Embassy
Of the
Federal Republic of Germany
Santiago Santiago, 28 June 1972


RK Sk 1600


Interrogation Protocol
------------------------

Present LR I Dr. XXXXXXXXX, authorized to carry out all consular
tasks, XXXXXXXXXX as protocol writer

in the preliminary judicial investigation against

Bruno Streckenbach

Suspect of murder (NSG)

There appeared

at the request of the Hamburg County Court, examining magistrate 4
- Az.: (54) 3/70 - of 1 March 1972

1.) County Court Counselor XXXXX, examining magistrate 4 at the
Hamburg County Court

2.) Public Prosecutor XXXXXXXXX, public prosecution at the Hamburg County Court

3.) Attorney at Law Dr. XXXXXXXXX, as defender of the suspect

4.) the witness Walter Rauff.

The witness was admonished to tell the truth, informed of the consequences of an untrue deposition and interrogated as follows:

1. Personal Data:
My name is Walther Rauff, 66 years old, living in
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, widower, industrialist,
German national. No relative or in-law of the suspect.
Informed about his right to refuse a deposition according to paragraph 55 StPO [German law of criminal procedure],
he is willing to make a deposition.

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2. On the Subject Matter:

Between 1924 and the end of 1937 I was at the Reich Navy. I left the Navy at my own request and was discharged with all honors. “With all honors” means that I had the right to wear a uniform and was entitled to a pension.

I now searched for a new employment corresponding to my training. During my time at the Reich Navy, I had me SA-Obergruppenführer von Jagow, who had been a reserve officer with me. He called me one day and told me that he had talked about a job for me with Heydrich. I was to present myself at the office of the Geheime Staatspolizei to Dr. Best. At this presentation Dr. Best told me that I was supposed to begin my work at the SD main office on 7.1.1938. It was foreseen that during six months I should go through all departments of the security police, the SD and the crime police on an information basis. I began my rounds with Schellenberg at the SD main office. After a few weeks, however, the original plan was dropped. I was now put in charge of the personal and material mobilization preparations for the SD and the security police. This means that I was to check which members of the SD and the security police would in case of mobilization have to stay at their posts under all circumstances.

In this area I remained until the merger of SD and security police to constitute the Reichssicherheitshauptamt. As far as I remember, that must have occurred at about the time of the beginning of the war with Poland.

During the Polish campaign I was in Berlin. During the Norwegian campaign I was in Oslo to organize the news communications with Germany from there. Heydrich had told me that thereafter I could for some time go back to the navy. From the beginning of 1940 onward I thus was with the navy for at least a year, clearing mines in the Channel. In the first months of 1941 I was called back to Berlin. As they told me, Heydrich himself had requested me from Raeder.

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I now became head of division II D at the RSHA. In this division all technical matters were regulated. The division II D (technology) consisted of 6 or 7 sections. I was head of division until several months after the death of Heydrich. Thereafter I was sent to an assignment in Africa with Rommel.

When Heydrich went to Prague as a Protector I accompanied him there to organize the local news network. During this time I often traveled between Berlin and Prague. When the attempt occurred I was in Berlin and about to leave for Rome. When Heydrich’s aides told me that his life was not in danger I traveled to Rome. As far as I remember I stayed at the RSHA another 3 – 4 months after Heydrich’s death. I think Kaltenbrunner had already been nominated Heydrich’s successor when I went to Africa. If I’m now being told that Kaltenbrunner took charge only at the beginning of 1943 and that Heydrich died on 4 June 1942, however, I would like to say that I had already gone to Africa at the time Kaltenbrunner took charge.

If I’m asked for the head of department II, I remember a small public servant whose name I don ‘t recall at the Moment. If the name Dr. Siegert is mentioned, I can only say that I was referring to him. The first dead of department II, however, was Dr. Best. At any rate I remember that Dr. Best had been head of department II since the constitution of the RSHA, although I can no longer say today when it was that he left the RSHA.

The head of department I (personnel) since the merger of security police and SD to the RSHA was Streckenbach, as far as I remember. If I am asked whether after the constitution of the RSHA the former department I was split into the new departments I and II, I have no memory of such a process.

If further confronted with the name Dr. Nockemann, I can say that he also was, as far as I remember, head of department II.

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About Dr. Nockemann I remember that he had a car accident at which his wife and his driver lost their lives. Dr.Nockemann then left the department II and was later killed in action in Russia. I cannot say, however, when the accident was and when he left the department II. I would now say that Dr. Siegert was Dr. Nockemann’s successor, but I cannot state this with certainty.

How long Streckenbach was head of department I, I don’t know either. I cannot even say if he ever left the RSHA. Neither can I say with certainty if he was still head of department when I left the RSHA and went to Africa. A successor of Streckenbach I do not know. Even if confronted with the names Schulz and Ehrlinger I cannot remember them as successors of Streckenbach, although I well know Ehrlinger as a person.

I would still like to clarify that I was with Rommel only for a short time and already returned to Berlin before the battle of El Alamein. My stay in Berlin, however, was also a short one and thereafter I went to Tunis with my people. Already since I first left for Africa I had no longer taken any care of procedures in Berlin, especially at the RSHA.

I know that the relationship between Best and Heydrich was a very tense one. I know that Best wanted to leave the RSHA because he didn’t get along with Heydrich.

If asked for the relationship between Heydrich and Streckenbach, I think that Streckenbach was very reserved towards Heydrich and by no means approved to all of Heydrich’s measures. As far as I can judge, however, the relation between Best and Heydrich was tenser than the one between Streckenbach and Heydrich. I would like to add, however, that I had much more to do with Best than with Streckenbach. In response to the corresponding question I would further like to stress that I got to know nothing from Heydrich about his relation to Best and Streckenbach.

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This because, although Heydrich had also been a member of the navy, I had no personal contact with him. My first personal encounter with occurred only after I had been at the SD main office for more than on year.

Gradually I became aware that there were many intrigues inside the RSHA. I don’t know what professions Streckenbach had had before, in my opinion he made his way straightly and correctly at the RSHA, which was bound to shock a man like Heydrich. As the main source of my experience in this respect I can name Dr. Plötz, who was a good friend of mine. I also learned something through Kluckhon. I cannot say to what areas the measures of Heydrich to which Streckenbach did not approve referred, but I can state with certainty that there were differences between him and Heydrich.

About the relationship between Streckenbach and Himmler I know nothing.

I don’t know if Streckenbach was in any way involved in the administration of department II, but I don’t think he was. As far as I can remember Dr. Siegert was full head of department and not just in charge of heading department II on behalf of someone else.

Also after having been shown Heydrich’s letter of 20.6.1941 (sheet 6802) I can only say that I cannot remember ever having seen this letter. Even after having taken knowledge of the contents of this letter I cannot remember that Dr. Siegert should have headed department II only in someone else’s representation.

Of the Russian campaign I was informed officially only on the night before the commencement of this campaign. On that evening I learned from Heydrich at the RSHA or at some other place I don’t remember that the campaign against Russia was to begin the next morning. Up to this communication I had

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no concrete indications whatsoever that a campaign against Russia was imminent and when such a campaign would begin.

I can neither remember today that for this Russian campaign special detachments [Einsatzgruppen]and units should have been constituted in Pretzsch,Dübe and Bad Schmiedeberg. Only the place Bad Schmiedeberg is in some way in my memory today in connection with the formation of special detachments, because I was responsible for their equipment I would not have known, however, where the coming assignment would take place. In this context I would like to point out that the special detachments were not equipped with winter clothing as would have been necessary for an assignment in Russia.

For the provision of the motor vehicles of the security police my subordinate Pradel was responsible. Pradel, who had come from the order police, didn’t like me and was in a certain conflict with me. As to whether I had differences with him regarding the provision of motor vehicles for an upcoming assignment after my return from the navy, I consider that possible, but cannot remember it exactly. I can neither remember having had a meeting with Streckenbach in this respect.

I have been shown the respective statements of Pradel in his interrogation on 30.3 1971 (Sheet 6965 f, 6969). I can only say the following about this: The major Puschke that Pradel mentions is not known to me; I always dealt on a higher level, i.e. with General Fellgiebel in matters of communication material. In matters of motor vehicles I dealt at a similar level with the OKW, without however being still able to provide a name. It is not correct that, as Pradel states, I only returned to the department from the navy after the commencement of the Russian campaign. I neither remember to have spoken about the motor vehicles with Streckenbach. I cannot say whether in preparation of the coming assignment Streckenbach

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beyond mere matters of personnel, but I don’t think he was either. At any rate I don’t remember that he in any way became active on the area of the material equipment, for which the competence resided with department II. I can neither remember to have taken part in a meeting headed by Streckenbach in which issues of the coming assignment were discussed.

When asked how the representation of Heydrich was regulated, I remember that at the beginning Heydrich was represented by Dr. Best. I cannot say, however, if this regulation was kept until Dr. Best lets the RSHA. In this context I would like to point out that Heydrich was an extremely suspicious man who don’t liked it if another sat on his chair and ruled on his behalf.

How the issue of Heydrich’s representation was regulated when I returned to the RSHA at the beginning of 1941 I don’t know. I can only assume that someone represented him in his absence, without however being able to say who that could have been. Also for the time of his activity in Prague and for the time after his death I don’t know what the representation regulation was. I can only assume that during this time the heads of department were directly subordinated to Himmler. Furthermore a man like for instance Müller would never have subordinated himself to Strechenbach or another head of department at the same level.

As far as I know there very several candidates for the succession of Heydrich, but I am not able to give names in this respect. Whether Streckenbach was being considered as a successor I don’t know, but I consider it possible as he had a good name at the security police and the SD, this not for having played the wild man but for his being calm and objective. The fact of Kaltenbrunner having then become Heydrich’s successor surprised at least me.

I neither now anything about whether there was a regulation regarding the representation of one head of department by another. I would personally say that in case of impediment affecting one head of department the respective

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head of division became active under his own responsibility or turned directly to the head of the main office.

Of the measures against the Jews in Russia I knew right from the start. I never got to know officially, however, on what order the killing of the Jews was based. While I got to know after the war that there was a so called Führer order, the content of which was the liquidation of the Jews for racial reasons, I cannot remember that during the war it had ever been said that there was such an order. Of the existence of such an order I should have been informed for my activity in Tunis, because there were many Jews there who even worked for us voluntarily without anything happening to them.

Already during the Polish campaign I had heard of liquidation measures against the Jews, without being still able today to say whether I got to know that officially in the course of meetings or from any conversations.

I have been shown the protocols of the meetings of the heads of department in the autumn of 1949. Although I am mentioned as a participant in most of these meetings and although the initial under the protocols is without doubt my own, I have no memory at this time of having taken part in these meetings. Herewith I by no means intend to question the accuracy of these protocols. If I think about this issue, I consider it possible that in my above mentioned capacity as mobilization organizer I took part in these meetings and, being the youngest of those present, was put in charge of writing the protocol.

Upon questions by the public prosecutor.
----------------------------------------

It was not part of my tasks as mobilization organizer to take care of the setting up of the special unit [Einsatzkommandos]. That was not even being discussed at the time.

The occupation of the CSR was a sort of acid test for my activity as mobilization organizer, because at that time it turned out that a part of the men who went on assignment should have remained behind. That’s why a new listing of those men who under any circumstances

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had to stay on their post was made.

Due to the experiences in the CSR the setting up of Einsatzgruppen was organized prior to the Polish campaign. I was involved in this in regard to the technical equipment of these detachments. The instructions for this I received on the one hand from Oberführer Albert, the head of department I of the SD main office, and from Dr. Best on the other.

Regarding the equipment of the Einsatzgruppen in the Russian campaign I must have received my instructions from the then in charge head of department, without being able to say if at the time it was Dr. Nockemann or Dr. Siegert. I thing that I returned from the navy in March or April of 1941. Whether the preparations for the Russian campaign in regard to the equipment of the Einsatzgruppen had already commenced at this time I don’t know.

I know nothing of an organization order for the Einsatzgruppen in the Russian campaign that was signed by all participants.

The fuel required by the Einsatzgruppen was provided by the Wehrmacht. That had been agreed upon at the highest level. The required ammunition was supplied directly to us by the Wehrmacht pursuant to negotiations with the Wehrmacht, and we then sent it to the Einsatzgruppen. There was thus no direct delivery of ammunition by the Wehrmacht to the Einsatzgruppen, as far as I know. The mentioned negotiations were even conducted by Heydrich himself whenever I was not getting any further. I personally can thus not imagine that Streckenbach should have told something about “Barbarossa” to a subordinate like Pradel for negotiations with the Wehrmacht. The required drivers were taken from the existing ranks of drivers or from slightly wounded who returned from the front and were still operational. I don’t know anything about the NSKK [Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrerkorps, National Socialist Truck Drivers’ Association] having been turned to. I consider it doubtful that Streckenbach should have told Pradel to get in touch with the NSKK in this respect.

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It may be that I talked with Streckenbach about personnel matters in regard to the Einsatzgruppen, but I have no concrete recollection of such a meeting. I actually know of no single positive case in which I went to Streckenbach in service matters. I last saw Streckenbach in 1960 or 1962 when I was in Germany. I was sitting in a café in Munich back then and casually saw Streckenbach passing by. We talked then, but not about common matters of service.

I cannot remember Streckenbach having been leader of an Einsatzgruppe during the Polish campaign and later head of the security police in Cracow.

Of the liquidation measures in Poland I must have got to know through meetings of the heads of department. A memory of my own in regard to these matters I no longer have today. I know that in one of these protocols liquidation measures towards the Polish intelligentsia were mentioned. Whether the liquidation of Jews was mentioned in other protocols I don’t know. I neither recall if at the lime there was a separation between a “short term goal” and a “final goal”. Whether I concluded from the meetings of the heads of department already at that time that the Jews were to be generally annihilated or whether that was even expressly mentioned at the meetings of the heads of department I no longer know. I would say, however, that such would have been recorded in the protocols if it had been expressly discussed.

If in the protocol about the meeting on 21.9. 1939 it is said that Jewry was to be concentrated in the cities in ghettoes to make possible a better control and their being pushed away at a later stage, I cannot say today what was meant by pushing away at that time (sheet 1713). As becomes apparent from the protocols of the heads of department there is no mention yet of a final solution therein, which means that I must revise my deposition insofar as I stated above that I knew of the general liquidations already in September 1939.

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If in the protocol about the meeting of 27.9. 1939 it is further stated (sheet 1714) that shootings were now only to be carried out in case of self defense and escape attempt while all order procedures must be handed over to military tribunals to give them so much work that they could no longer cope with it, I cannot say with certainty what is behind that. I presume that at the time the Wehrmacht had complained about some shootings, because the Wehrmacht was the highest judge in the front line area and didn’t like anyone else to carry out shootings or other judicial measures in their area. If it is further stated in the mentioned protocol that of the political leadership only 3 % were still left (sheet 1713), I cannot say what happened to the remaining 97 %. Probably a great part of them fled to the East. At any rate I consider it impossible that the 97 % were shot beforehand, because for that there were to many partisans afterwards who were led by members of the intelligentsia.

If in the protocol of 16.10.1939 (sheet 1723) it is further stated that C addressed the liquidation of leading Poles and mentioned lists to be presented by the leaders of the Einsatzgruppen, I no longer have any memory thereof today.

The old problem of SD-police and Wehrmacht mentioned in the remark of 5.10. 1939 (sheet 1720 ) was the one that the Wehrmacht hat absolute priority in the front line area but the security police and SD carried out tasks that were up to the Wehrmacht to carry out but could not be carried out by it. Thus there were always quarrels. It may be, but it is not necessarily so, that such differences also related to shootings. How this problem came up again, however, after Heydrich had declared at the meeting of 19.9 1939 (sheet 1705) that his meeting with Colonel Wagner could be called a very favorable result in the co-operation with the Wehrmacht, I don’t know.

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Whether I asked to take part in the meetings of the heads of department I don’t know. It is possible that I should have done that in regard to the equipment problems.

The file notes were meant for our own files, not for Heydrich.

All these assessments of the protocols don’t bring me any memory of my own about the occurrences at the time, although I have thought about them several times after such a protocol was first sent to me.

Regarding the annihilation of Jews in Russia I know that gas vans were used for this purpose. I cannot say, however, from when on and to what extent this happened. I used to think that the thing with the gas vans started at the time when I was at the navy. Today I have doubts about this and consider it possible that this matter only got going after I had returned from the navy. At any rate I now that at some time after my return I saw two of these gas vans standing in the yard, which Pradel showed to me. Somehow I then also learned that the gas vans were used for the execution of sentences and for the killing of Jews.

I consider it impossible that Pradel should have carried out the development of the gas vans on his own initiative. He must have received an order for this either from me or from another superior standing above me.

Whether at that time I had doubts against the use of gas vans I cannot say. The main issue for me at the time was that the shootings were a considerable burden for the man who were in charge thereof and that this burden was taken off them through the use of the gas vans.

I don’t think that Dr. Siegert was involved in these matters at the time, although he probably knew about them.

It is correct that I received something from Becker about the used of gas vans. I myself had told Becker to send me a corresponding report.

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I cannot explain why in the letter from section II A 2 of 19.11.1942 (sheet 3698 and following) shown to me Dr. Siegert is mentioned as "head of department in representation" and why this letter is also signed by Streckenbach “in representation”.

I can remember no process from department II that I submitted to Streckenbach.

It is not correct that I belonged to the same training course as Heydrich at the navy. He had entered the navy in 1922, whereas I came in only in 1924. He was a radioman, I was a mine seeker, and he was on shore while I was on board. Due to all these reasons there was no personal contact between us during my time at the navy. For this reason I did not turn to Heydrich when I left the navy, my connection was the already mentioned von Jagow. Later however there were closer personal contacts at a familiar level, without that having had any consequences in terms of service let alone brought me advantages.

Heydrich was an insanely ambitious man, a fox who was extremely suspicious and tolerated no one next to let alone above him. He was also a person who could not lose. Not even in a game. Accordingly the relation between him and all other persons at a very high level, such as for example Streckenbach, was very difficult due to Heydrich’s personality. I can thus repeat my statement mentioned above that an honest and straight person like Streckenbach had a shocking effect on Heydrich.

I cannot positively remember having witnessed Streckenbach and Heydrich together, but it is probable that I did. At least I would heard one of them talk about the other and heard about their relation from Heydrich’s adjutants. From all this I can draw the conclusion that the relation among them was very reserved.

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A concrete example for differences between Heydrich and Streckenbach I cannot name.

Dr.Plötz got along well with everyone, including Streckenbach. Whether he was a friend of Streckenbach’s I don’t know. Dr. Plötz was everything other than a soldier, how he got his job as an adjutant I do not know. Like everyone else he Dr. Plötz was also to carry out an assignment with the fighting troops at Heydrich’s wish. It is correct, however, that Plötz got to the front only after Heydrich’s death. The front line assignment desired by Heydrich, at least for the leaders, was to take place at the Waffen SS or the Wehrmacht. I know nothing about Heydrich having opposed a transfer to there. He however reserved himself the right to decide himself on the time when that was to happen. Assignments with the security police in the occupied territories he did not consider as front line duty.


Upon questions by the defender
------------------------------

Do you assume that the contents of the meetings of heads of department and of Einsatzgruppen leaders and respective protocols, especially the protocol of 27.9. 1939 (sheet 1710 and following) was communicated to other persons than those mentioned in the file note?

I am of the opinion that the contents of the protocols were not even communicated to the persons listed at the beginning of the protocol, because these protocols carry no distribution plan. I think that these protocols were made mainly as memory helpers for myself.

When confronted with the statement in the protocol of 27.9.1939 that deportations of Jews into the foreign language Au and pushing them over the demarcation line had been authorized by the Führer, I say that this meant the pushing away of the Jews from the German territories as far as possible to the east. If in this context a killing of the Jews had also been mentioned, I would certainly have taken that into the protocol.

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If in this protocol it is further mentioned that shootings are from now on to be carried out in case of self-defense or escape attempts while all other procedures are to be handed over to military tribunals, this means that all previous shootings had bee based on procedures, i.e. judicial procedures or judicial verdicts, insofar as they were not related to cases of flight or self-defense.

If in this protocol it is further mentioned that of the political leadership in the occupied territories a maximum of 3 % were still lift, then this number was certainly mentioned at the time. I don’t consider it to be correct, however, and think that a much higher percentage was still left. I also consider the numbers mentioned by Becker in his report to have been highly exaggerated in order to make an impression.

When confronted with the following characterization of Heydrich: “Vindictive person, exceptionally fast on the uptake, always exactly informed. Arguing with him was useless – he stuck to decisions that were often against any reason – during such arguments he made tough and unjust statements to the point of being insulting, leaving no room for opposition”, I would as a complement to what I above said about Heydrich myself underwrite this statement word by word as being accurate.

Upon question by the public prosecutor:
I myself never tried to fight through an argument with Heydrich because that was useless. If not even a man like Dr. Best could measure up to him, how am I supposed to have done that. I never experienced a confrontation between Dr. Best and Heydrich myself, however, and I cannot give another concrete example either of Heydrich having been inaccessible to other points of view and having stuck to a position once taken even against better knowledge. I can only say on the basis of my personal contact with him that the stated characterization is accurate, and I can for example point out that in Prague during visits of the state president he declared that he would only approach him

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to a certain extent and stuck to this position even after a young man from the diplomatic service who was in charge of the protocol had told him that he should approach him further. In this context I would like to repeat that Heydrich could not bear to lose in a game and that therefore my comrades and I in Prague had agreed to let him win at “Doppelkopf” [a card game].

On the other hand it is certainly correct that Heydrich could be a very charming and attentive host.

Schellenberg was a man just as pathetically ambitious as Heydrich.

Approved after dictation and signed.
Walter Rauff [signature]
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Walter Rauff



XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Dr. KXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Protocol writer Counsel 1st Class


[Seal: Embassy
of the Federal Republic
of Germany
Santiago]
Last edited by Roberto on 21 Mar 2002 21:11, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Roberto
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Postby Roberto » 20 Mar 2002 18:52

What follows is a complete translation of Dr. Becker's letter to Rauff of 16 May 1942, transcribed under

http://www.ns-archiv.de/einsatzgruppen/ ... auff.shtml

The translation is my own, though I have used the partial translation featured under

http://www.ns-archiv.de/einsatzgruppen/ ... auff.shtml

Feldpostnummer 32 704 Kiev, 16 May 1942
B. Nr. 40/42 -

Secret Reich Matter

To
SS-Obersturmbannführer Rauff
in Berlin
Prinz-Albrecht-Str. 8

The overhauling of the vans of Groups D and C is concluded. While the vans of the first series can also be used when the weather is not all too bad, the vans of the second series (Saurer) are completely immobilized in rainy weather. This because if it has been raining for only half an hour the van cannot be operated because it simply slips away. It can only be used in good weather. The question now arises if the van can only be used at the place of execution standing. The van must first be brought to that place, which is possible only in good weather. The place of execution, however, is located at least 10-15 km away from the traffic routes and is already difficult to access due to its location; in bad weather it is inaccessible altogether. If those to be executed are led or driven to this place, they notice immediately what is going on and become restless, which should be avoided. The only remaining possibility is to load them in at the place of assembly and then to drive them out.

I ordered the vans of group D to be camouflaged as house trailers by putting one set of window shutters on each side of the small van and two on each side of the large vans, such as one often sees on farm houses in the country. The vans became so well known that not only the authorities but also the civilian population called the van "death van", as soon as one of these vehicles appeared. It is my opinion the van cannot be kept secret for any length of time, not even camouflaged.

The Saurer van that I transferred from Simferopol to Taganrog had a brake damage on the way. At the S.K. [Spezialkommando = special unit] in Mariupol it was verified that the flange [Manchete] of the combined oil and compressed air brake was broken in several places. Through persuasion and bribe at the H. K. P. it was possible to have turned a form after which two flanges were forged. When I came to Stalino and Gorlovka a few days later, the drivers of the vans complained about the same damage. After consulting the commanders of these special units I went again to Mariupol in order to have further flanges for these vans manufactured. It was agreed to forge two flanges for each of these vans, while 6 flanges remained as a reserve in Mariupol for the Group, and 6 flanges were sent to SS-Untersturmführer Ernst for the vans of Group C to Kiev. For the groups B and A the flanges could be obtained from Berlin, because the transport from Mariupol to the north is still too cumbersome and would last too long. Smaller damages on the vans are repaired by technicians of the special units or groups or in a workshop.

Due to the uneven terrain and the hard to describe road conditions the sealing and rivet places loosen after some time. I was asked if in such cases the vans can be sent to Berlin for repair. Such a transfer would be much too expensive and cost too much fuel. To save this expense I gave the instruction to rivet smaller leaking parts on site and, if this was no longer possible, to immediately inform Berlin by radio that van Pol. No. …. had broken down.
Besides that, I ordered that during application of gas all the men were to be kept as far away from the vans as possible, so they should not suffer damage to their health by the gas which eventually would escape. I should like to take this opportunity to bring the following to your attention: several commands have had the unloading after the application of gas done by their own men. I brought to the attention of the special units concerned the immense psychological injuries and damages involved to their health that this work can have for those men, even if not immediately, at least later on. The men complained to me about headaches, which appeared after each unloading. Nevertheless they don't want to change the orders, because they are afraid prisoners called for that work could use an opportune moment to flee. To protect the men from these damages, I request orders to be issued accordingly.

The application of the gas is not undertaken correctly. In order to come to an end as fast as possible, the driver presses the accelerator to the fullest extent. By doing that the persons to be executed suffer death from suffocation and not death by dozing off as was planned. My directions have now proved that by correct adjustment of the levers death comes faster and the prisoners fall asleep peacefully. Distorted faces and excretions, such as could be seen before, are no longer noticed.

In the course of this day I will travel on to Group B, where further news may reach me.

Dr. Becker
SS-Untersturmführer

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Inside the RSHA

Postby Angelo » 21 Mar 2002 14:52

Very good job, Medor! And one which does a great favor to all researchers, whether amateur or professional, for gathering up a few but very important documents which are the key to PROVE that GAS VANS had effectively been used at one given stage of the Shoah. They also shed some light on that gloomy, mysterious world that the RSHA was, with a particular reference to that emblematic character that was Heydrich, and finally they tell us some more about the time/knowlege component of their murderous activities. By "time/knowledge" I mean the time when the killings started and the knowledge that Obersturmfuehrer Rauff had about that matter.

Without commenting on the gas vans issue which had been dealt with for so long in the past, let me say that as I went through it again, I can hardly believe some may object to its being happened.

Coming to the long 1972 voluntary deposition of W. Rauff in connection with the proceedings against Streckenback, at a given point he says:


Of the measures against the Jews in Russia I knew right from the start. I never got to know officially, however, on what order the killing of the Jews was based.


That paragraph let us clearly see that the word "measures" is euphemistically used to predominantly mean "killing". For sure it included the detection, rounding up and escorting of the Jews to the killing area or facility, BUT, finally, it meant the slaughtering of those people. No way out.

Then, of course, the problem is NOT, for Rauff, whether the "measures/killings" did happen, he has no doubt about it, actually he explicitely confirms they DID, but his question is on the basis of WHOSE order. (And this gets us to the well known and still debated issue on whether gawd Adolf gave that order himself or it came from one of his cherubim. A pity we have no access to the heavenly courts.)

A few lines after, Rauff tells us:

Already during the Polish campaign I had heard of liquidation measures against the Jews, without being still able today to say whether I got to know that officially in the course of meetings or from any conversations.


Here we have another precious little admission and a kind clarification. Clarification first: those "measures/killings" have been now dressed up as "liquidation measures", a step forward towards a better portrayal and adherence to what "killing" for all poor mortals always meant and means.
Our euphemism list must be updated then by adding the "liquidation measures/killings" synonimity.
So, that the killings started "already" during the Polish campaign is no surprise to him.
His only uncertainty being whether that notion came to him through official circles or just via occasional hearsay. Of course, this is an important element to consider, but while it could have had a certain weight in the very first years of researching, it has lost, nowadays, much of that weight in view of the relatively large quantity of testomonials which give a positive answer to the fact that those "liquidation measures/killings" did take place.
As we can read in the next paragraph, he cannot deny his participation to those meetings where all problems connected with those "liquidation measures/killings" were being discussed and possibly solved, but even the undeniable existence of his initials as a confirmation of his presence there (which he admits as his own handwriting) didn't prevent him from falling into a hardly admissible memory blackout which he tried to bypass with the veiled admission that he might have been there for no other reason than transcribing the protocols... Lol, he's better than the one depicted in the old italian saying "non c'ero e se c'ero dormivo" (= I wasn't there and (even) if I was, I was sleeping), no, he is definitely better, he was writing ...like those scribes of old whose people was now being slaughtered by the political/military organizations of the 20th. century Moloch which had certainly learned from his ancient experience.
What "funny" correlations between gawds of old and gawds of new, they look like they're just the same face of a same coin, but well, let me stop before some clever opponent starts accusing me of following a mythological approach. The only myth I know of is that expressed so softly, humanely, tenderly, freedom-caringly and all but convincingly by the deniers, sometimes disguised as "revisionists".

It is interesting that a few paragraphs later, Rauff goes back to the "liquidation measures/killings" in Poland again and he seems to give truth a better chance by gaining a little lightning of memory on where and from whom did he learn about them when he affirms:


Of the liquidation measures in Poland I must have got to know through meetings of the heads of department.
but it was just a lightspeed lightning with the overburners on as he immediately falls back into his alleged memory blackout only to get out of it for another flashing second to tell us that
I know that in one of these protocols liquidation measures towards the Polish intelligentsia were mentioned.


He then devotes a conspicuous part of his deposition to the Polish intelligentsia and to the questions concerning the possible overlapping of directives and activities between the Wehrmacht and the S.S. while stressing, as far as he was concerned, that he was only responsible for technical matters, equipment etc.

There's a funny (no offense to the dead of course!) point where "our man from Chile" must have realized he found an unexpected way-out from a compromising admission he let out in earlier times. As soon as he is offered the chance to read the protocols and notices that none of them officially mentions the Final Solution, he immediately grabs the life-saver and tells us that:

As becomes apparent from the protocols of the heads of department there is no mention yet of a final solution therein, which means that I must revise my deposition insofar as I stated above that I knew of the general liquidations already in September 1939.

See how he can gain back his memory when protocols lose their own ?

Then we have his confirmations about the gas vans and some interesting hints on the personality of Heydrich which do match quite well with what many writers told about that character.

All in all, a great job, Medor.

Thanks.

Angelo

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Postby Roberto » 21 Mar 2002 18:55

Angelo,

You're welcome. Quite a keen analysis of Rauff's statements, you would have made a good prosecutor. What I consider interesting about his deposition is that, although a witness safe from prosecution in a country that would not extradite him, Rauff did his best to keep himself, his former colleagues (especially Streckenbach) and his erstwhile Führer as clean as possible. A tough nut for those who would like to believe that he was telling his interrogators what they wanted to hear.

Cheers,

Roberto

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Postby Angelo » 21 Mar 2002 19:54

I might give it a try the next time I'll be born...Thanks, Medor :D :D

Yes, true, he is a master at that. Actually, he is smartly playing the light/shadow game to spread its beams where they didn't hurt too much (Heydrich, Kaltenbrunner) and dim it around those who were more connected to him by the usual memory blackouts, inoffensive admissions on technical and administrative questions, leaving always the door apparently open but actually as tightly closed as it could be.

Well, from a man of his experience and curriculum, I would have been honestly surprised if he acted differently. But, as you said, the nut is real tough for the followers of the "accomodation" theories.

Angelo

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Postby Hans » 23 Mar 2002 09:53

medorjurgen's translation of Rauff's deposition is now available in nizkor's archive:

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/ft ... ranslation

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RAUFF

Postby Scott Smith » 23 Mar 2002 10:14

medorjurgen wrote:A tough nut for those who would like to believe that he was telling his interrogators what they wanted to hear.


Yeah, and he could count on protection as long as he continued doing so. No Eichmann II here.

SS-Rauff: "Of course, the Gas-Vans were real. But I don't know anything about them. It might have been when I was in the Navy. I did get a letter from Becker but I don't know anything about it."

Rauff (Left), with Mussolini...

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RAUFF

Postby Angelo » 23 Mar 2002 17:33

Scott,

I allow myself to answer your comment simply because I shared that conclusion from Medorjurgen.

He wrote:
A tough nut for those who would like to believe that he was telling his interrogators what they wanted to hear.


You answered:
Yeah, and he could count on protection as long as he continued doing so. No Eichmann II here.

SS-Rauff: "Of course, the Gas-Vans were real. But I don't know anything about them. It might have been when I was in the Navy. I did get a letter from Becker but I don't know anything about it.


My comment: If he could count on protection for being evasive or elusive in relation to some of his ex-colleagues, as well as himself, and their possible murderous activities, that would mean the prosecuting German authorities of 1972 were actually "pushing" him in the direction of oblivion and denial. If this could be proved, it would constitute a very serious charge against the German establishment in those years. (I guess I remember in the past you rang a bell that sounded exactly the opposite of this one).
That the South-American authorities may have closed an eye on the various identities of the moltitude of people who started flooding their immigration offices since the German debacle, it's probably no mistery to any one, given the fact that all knew from newspapers and magazine reports that a consistent number of Nazis tried to set up a new life anywhere from the Caribbeans to Argentina and back.
Now, if that is so, would you have liked it better that a second Eichmann could be there to nail the suspected individual down to his liabilities with no way out for him to get away with them without paying his share of the quota ?
And in that case, wouldn't we have heard you saying that poor Rauff had been crucified because Eichmann hoped he would get a discount in so doing?
I don't know, maybe I simply did not get the true meaning of your reply, but I don't see the point of it.

Angelo

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Rauff

Postby Scott Smith » 24 Mar 2002 00:06

Angleo wrote:I don't know, maybe I simply did not get the true meaning of your reply, but I don't see the point of it.


Well, Rauff confirms the broad outlines of the story without being too specific with the details. Therefore he "bears witness to the Holocaust" without confirming any details, which could prove embarassing to the overall story, and he thus is allowed to minimize his own implication.

Rauff can't be extradited by the South Americans and they can't draw any greater political capital in sending him somewhere anyway, as long as he sticks to the story, which is to confirm broadly without offering any real detail.

The West Germans have what they want; if Rauff were extradited and then started to actually defend himself it could very well prove embarassing. Imagine if he suddenly claimed that the Becker-Rauff memo was forged and that he was coerced into affirming its authenticity with promises of protection from the victorious Allies. The memo would then have to be proved as true, which it probably is not.

The same with the Israelis, who aren't going to risk kidnapping Rauff unless they know they can draw political capital from it, as with Eichmann.

Rauff supposedly supervised these murder vans but knows nothing about them. Rauff is most useful right where he is: broadly bearing witness but not providing any real detail. Of course, if he were really on the chopping block, that might change, and Rauff would have outlived his usefulness because he might then be forced to defend himself with specifics. It might even turn into a Demjanjuk debacle if Rauff similarly refused to play ball.
:)
Last edited by Scott Smith on 24 Mar 2002 00:58, edited 2 times in total.

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Rauff

Postby Angelo » 24 Mar 2002 00:34

Thanks, Scott.

Yes, I got it now. Just a way to please them all without upsetting any one...

Well, it might be, though you'll agree, I guess, that it does make sense only if we give the forgery hypothesis a stand a little sturdier than I think it is. :wink:

Angelo

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PS-501 Forgery?

Postby Scott Smith » 24 Mar 2002 00:56

Agreed. I can't prove that it is a forgery or not but I'm studying the subject.
:)

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Postby Roberto » 25 Mar 2002 11:35

<<Well, Rauff confirms the broad outlines of the story without being too specific with the details. Therefore he "bears witness to the Holocaust" without confirming any details, which could prove embarassing to the overall story, and he thus is allowed to minimize his own implication.>>

Smith obviously has not read Rauff’s deposition. Otherwise he would know that the subject matter thereof was not the details of the gas vans but the organization of the RSHA in general and the involvement of Bruno Streckenbach in the Einsatzgruppen killings in particular.

<<Rauff can't be extradited by the South Americans and they can't draw any greater political capital in sending him somewhere anyway, as long as he sticks to the story, which is to confirm broadly without offering any real detail.>>

What a True Believer would like to believe, and for which of course he cannot offer the slightest evidence.

<<The West Germans have what they want;>>

How does Reverend Smith know what the West Germans wanted?

<<if Rauff were extradited and then started to actually defend himself it could very well prove embarassing.>>

Well, some of his colleagues were on trial, and they defended themselves with claws and teeth. Any “embarrassing” outcome that the True Believer can show us? Here are some summaries of trials before West German courts:

http://www.jur.uva.nl/junsv/brd/brdengf ... eng552.htm

http://www.jur.uva.nl/junsv/brd/brdengf ... eng560.htm

http://www.jur.uva.nl/junsv/brd/brdengf ... eng606.htm

<<Imagine if he suddenly claimed that the Becker-Rauff memo was forged and that he was coerced into affirming its authenticity with promises of protection from the victorious Allies. The memo would then have to be proved as true, which it probably is not.>>

Wrong. Rauff would have had to provide evidence that the memo was forged and that he was “coerced into affirming its authenticity with promises of protection from the victorious Allies”. But it is highly unlikely, of course, that he would have made such an allegation. He could have made it in his deposition before the embassy without risking or losing anything on account of that for himself while at the same time gaining something in favor of his former colleague Streckenbach, who he obviously tried to keep as clean as possible. Yet he didn’t.

<<The same with the Israelis, who aren't going to risk kidnapping Rauff unless they know they can draw political capital from it, as with Eichmann.>>

What are the Israelis doing here all of a sudden? Rauff was questioned by representatives of the West German government, who are not exactly known to kidnap people from foreign countries.

<<Rauff supposedly supervised these murder vans but knows nothing about them.>>

He knew quite a lot, but the subject matter of the deposition was not the gas vans, as Smith would know if he had read it. It was the organization of the RSHA in general and the involvement of Bruno Streckenbach in the Einsatzgruppen killings in particular, as explained above.

<<Rauff is most useful right where he is: broadly bearing witness but not providing any real detail.>>

If Smith had read the deposition, he would know that Rauff made it voluntarily after being informed about his right to refuse making a deposition. And he would also know that what led Rauff to make his deposition was obviously his intention to protect former colleagues of his such as Streckenbach, who was under criminal investigation for murder.

<<Of course, if he were really on the chopping block, that might change, and Rauff would have outlived his usefulness because he might then be forced to defend himself with specifics. It might even turn into a Demjanjuk debacle if Rauff similarly refused to play ball.>>

More wishful thinking emanating from the blind faith of a True Believer. I don't see what “specifics” Rauff could possibly have defended himself with against incriminating documentary evidence such as contained in Becker’s letter of 26 May 1942 and in the letters transcribed and translated under the links

http://www.holocaust-history.org/194203 ... nderwagen/

http://www.holocaust-history.org/194206 ... zialwagen/

All he could have done would have been to allege “forgery” – an allegation he would have had to prove.

A tough nut for True Believers like Smith, just as I said. Apart from there being not a shred of evidence to support Smith's contentions, Rauff’s deposition itself shows them to be nonsense. Smith should at least have read the deposition in preparation of his sermon.

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Walther Rauff

Postby Scott Smith » 25 Mar 2002 21:30

Medorjurgen wrote:If Smith had read the deposition, he would know that Rauff made it voluntarily after being informed about his right to refuse making a deposition. And he would also know that what led Rauff to make his deposition was obviously his intention to protect former colleagues of his such as Streckenbach, who was under criminal investigation for murder.


The accused waive their rights for a variety of reasons and strategies that may or not be in their own interest. So Rauff wanted to extend protection to some of his friends, so what?

If Rauff alleged that PS-501 was forged it would be incumbent upon the prosecution to prove it genuine. To think otherwise in nonsense. Of course, in the Alice In Wonderland World of Warcrimes Trials, hearsay is admitted into evidence if it makes a good story.
:(

Here's an interesting article, although I will agree that SD-Rauff was a cooler customer than most.

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/2020/2020_020315_falseconfessions.html
Last edited by Scott Smith on 27 Mar 2002 04:26, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Walther Rauff

Postby Roberto » 26 Mar 2002 14:30

medorjurgen wrote:
Scott Smith wrote:
Medorjurgen wrote:If Smith had read the deposition, he would know that Rauff made it voluntarily after being informed about his right to refuse making a deposition. And he would also know that what led Rauff to make his deposition was obviously his intention to protect former colleagues of his such as Streckenbach, who was under criminal investigation for murder.


The accused waive their rights for a variety of reasons and strategies that may or not be in their own interest. So Rauff wanted to extend protection to some of his friends, so what?

If Rauff alleged that PS-501 was forged it would be incumbent upon the prosecution to prove it genuine. To think otherwise in nonsense. Of course, in the Alice In Wonderland World of Warcrimes Trials, hearsay is admitted into evidence if it makes a good story.
:(

Here's an interesting article, although that I will agree that SD-Rauff was a cooler customer than most.

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/2020/2020_020315_falseconfessions.html


Smith is conveniently ignoring the context of what I wrote.

Smith:

--Rauff is most useful right where he is: broadly bearing witness but not providing any real detail.--

Me:

++If Smith had read the deposition, he would know that Rauff made it voluntarily after being informed about his right to refuse making a deposition. And he would also know that what led Rauff to make his deposition was obviously his intention to protect former colleagues of his such as Streckenbach, who was under criminal investigation for murder.++

Smith:

<<The accused waive their rights for a variety of reasons and strategies that may or not be in their own interest. So Rauff wanted to extend protection to some of his friends, so what?>>

My point was that Smith’s contention of Rauff having been coached into making a statement by the West German authorities and used by them for a certain purpose is absurd because, apart from the utter lack of evidence pointing to such manipulation, Rauff obviously made his deposition voluntarily and with the intention of getting good old Streckenbach off the hook. As to Rauff’s interest, the information about his right to refuse testimony on account of his possibly incriminating himself thereby was a mere formality considering that the witness was beyond the reach of West German criminal justice authorities. My issue was not whether there was anything wrong with Rauff having tried to protect Streckenbach.

<<If Rauff alleged that PS-501 was forged it would be incumbent upon the prosecution to prove it genuine. To think otherwise in nonsense.>>

That’s how Smith would like it to be, no doubt: Faced with an incriminating document, all the defendant has to do in order to throw the ball back into the prosecution’s court is to yell “forgery”. I strongly doubt that this is so even in the wonderfully defendant-friendly judicial system of the United States, but Smith is kindly invited to convince me otherwise.

Smith’s “what if” speculations are moot anyway in the face of the fact that Rauff didn’t challenge the existence of Becker’s letter to him, but instead expressly confirmed it. And without obviously wanting to do so, he also confirmed the authenticity of another letter when he stated:

I also consider the numbers mentioned by Becker in his report to have been highly exaggerated in order to make an impression.


A look at Becker’s letter of 26 May 1942 shows that there are no numbers in it that Becker could possibly have exaggerated, which means that Rauff confounded this letter about the gas vans used in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union with another letter that had been sent to him. The obvious candidate is Willy Just’s letter about the gas vans used at Kulmhof (Chelmno) extermination camp dated 5 June 1942, a transcription and translation of which can be found under the following link:

http://www.holocaust-history.org/194206 ... zialwagen/

The letter starts with the following passage that gives True Believers many headaches:

Since December 1941, ninety-seven thousand have been processed, using three vans, without any defects showing up in the vehicles.


Rauff’s allegation that the author of the letter was exaggerating to make an impression may very well have been correct. According to the findings of the Bonn County Court at the trial against the members of the “Sonderkommando Lange” in 1962/63, the minimum number of people killed at Chelmno between December 1941 and March 1943 was 145,500 - a monthly average of 9,094 people killed at that extermination camp. Just, on the other hand, speaks of 97,000 people killed within 6 months, which would mean a monthly average of 16,167 dead. It must be taken into account, however, that the Bonn County Court expressly pointed out that the number it had concluded upon was the minimum number borne out by the surviving documentary evidence alone. The actual death toll of Chelmno may have been much higher; Polish sources speak of more than 300,000 victims.

<<Of course, in the Alice In Wonderland World of Warcrimes Trials, hearsay is admitted into evidence if it makes a good story.>>

Smith is also invited to show me a case where hearsay was admitted at a war crimes trial as evidence not to the account of an event that someone provided, but to the event in question itself. He is further invited to show us how whatever hearsay contained in Rauff’s deposition was used as evidence in the procedure against Streckenbach, who was under investigation not for “war crimes” but for plain and simple murder.

<<Here's an interesting article, although that I will agree that SD-Rauff was a cooler customer than most. http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/202 ... sions.html>>

The link announces something about false confessions, which means that Smith completely missed the issue at hand. Rauff was not making any confession. He was testifying as a witness.
Last edited by Roberto on 26 Mar 2002 20:45, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Walther Rauff

Postby Roberto » 26 Mar 2002 20:43

Image

The first page of Just's letter to Rauff, scanned in under

http://www.holocaust-history.org/194206 ... zialwagen/


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