Hausser's testimony is interesting for the information he gives on the history of the Waffen-SS, and also for the detailed listing of criminal acts by Waffen-SS units which can be found in Hausser's cross-examination. The full testimony of Hausser is found in vol. 20 of the IMT proceedings, available on-line at the Avalon Project of The Yale Law School, at:
This is part 1 of three parts (note the spelling of the name):
HERR PELCKMANN: The next witness will be well qualified to testify on the questions that were asked the last witness. I shall make my suggestion for the cross-examination of the witness Pohl in writing.
I call the witness Hauser.
[The witness Hauser took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your full name, please?
PAUL HAUSER (Witness): Paul Hauser.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that I will speak the truth and will withhold and add nothing.
[The witness repeated the oath.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
HERR PELCKMANN: When were you born?
HAUSER: I was born on 7 October 1880.
HERR PELCKMANN: You were a professional soldier?
HERR PELCKMANN: When did you leave the Armed Forces?
HAUSER: On 1 February 1932 I left the Reichswehr as a lieutenant general.
HERR PELCKMANN: How did you come to the SS?
HAUSER: In 1933, as a non-Party member, I joined the Stahl-helm and with this organization I was transferred to the SA reserve in 1934. After the events in the summer of 1934, I was asked by Heinrich Himmler whether I would be willing to take over the establishment and direction of an officer candidate school. I accepted this assignment, and in November 1934 1 joined the Verfügungstruppe.
HE RR PELCKMANN: At what time and in what position did you acquire the knowledge which enables you to appear here and testify as a witness for the SS?
HAUSER: From Easter 1935 to the summer of 1936 I directed the school. Then I was inspector of the Verfügungstruppe from 1936 to 1939. During the war, for 2 years in each capacity, I led an SS division and an SS Panzer corps, and then from 1944 on I was again in the Army, as commander-in-chief of an army group. I am in a position to give information on the Verfügungstruppe in peacetime and on the Waffen-SS during the war, as far as I became acquainted with them personally, and as far as they were under my orders. I do not know the General SS. During the war I was not employed at any main office.
HERR PELCKMANN: What was your last rank in the Waffen-SS?
HAUSER: I was Generaloberst in the Waffen-SS.
HERR PELCKMANN: What was your last position?
HAUSER: My last position, at the beginning of 1945, was Commander-in-Chief of Army Group D, on the southern flank of the Western Front.
HERR PELCKMANN: About how many divisions were under you at that time?
HAUSER: This army group had 20 to 30 divisions alternately, only two of which belonged to the Waffen-SS.
HERR PELCKMANN: How did you as a general of the Waffen-SS, get a leading position in the Army?
HAUSER: That was a result of the close co-operation between the Army and the Waffen-SS. I can have been recommended to this job only by reason of favorable opinions of my superiors in the Army.
HERR PELCKMANN: Let us go back to the initial stages. When was the Verfügungstruppe created? How strong was it, and how did it develop?
HAUSER: The beginnings of the Verfügungstruppe go back to the year 1933. In this year the Leibstandarte was created as a sort of bodyguard for Adolf Hitler. Following that, some battalions were formed for representational purposes. Only at the very beginning, in 1933 and 1934, were men of the General SS employed; later the very youngest of the age groups subject to military duty were recruited.
HERR PELCKMANN: What was the strength in 1936, and, for instance, in 1939?
HAUSER: In 1936 there were three infantry regiments and three technical battalions. In 1939 there were four infantry regiments one artillery regiment, and three technical battalions.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks this would be a convenient time to break off.
[A recess was taken.]
TBE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn at half past 4 this afternoon.
HERR PELCKMANN: Witness, what was the purpose and the task of the so-called Verfügungstruppe? Was it to serve as a new armed force alongside the Armed Forces?
HAUSER: The purpose and the tasks were laid down in the basic decree of Adolf Hitler of August 1938. According to that decree the Verfügungstruppe was to belong neither to the Armed Forces nor to the Police. It was a permanent troop at the disposition of Adolf Hitler, and it was paid from State funds. The training was supervised by the High Command of the Army and replacements were taken from volunteers of the youngest age groups.
HERR PELCKMANN: Was the Verfügungstruppe, therefore, meant to be a political nucleus? The Prosecution accuses it of being a special instrument for the oppression and elimination of political opponents and of having aided realization of the Nazi ideology by use of force.
HAUSER: That is not true. The Verfügungstruppe had neither political nor Police tasks. It developed gradually into a test troop which incorporated all the old soldierly virtues with the requirements of our socialist age. It paid special attention to the relations between officers and men, encouraged advancement without special examinations, and did away with any and all exclusiveness.
HERR PELCKMANN: Were the members of the Verfügungs-truppe expected to render blind obedience?
HAUSER: No. We swore obedience and loyalty to Adolf Hitler and to our superiors. Unconditional obedience leading to crime was not expected and was not sworn to.
HERR PELCKMANN: The Prosecution is particularly accusing the Verfügungstruppe for inciting racial hatred and for the persecution of the Jews as one of its special tasks. Was the troop trained for these purposes?
HAUSER: The political and ideological training could only be achieved by schooling. I, personally, as director of the school and as an inspector, have closely watched this training, for I was a new man myself and had first to acquaint myself with these ways of thinking. I can testify that race hatred and the extermination of Jewry or of the Eastern peoples was never taught and was never demanded.
HERR PELCKMANN: According to the Prosecution, this troop served for the purpose of preparing for an aggressive war. Was Germany's predominance by terror and the conquest of all Europe taught?
HAUSER: These young troops needed time and peace for the fulfillment of their tasks. Their commanders were all veterans of the first World War. They knew war and they knew what misery it had brought to us once already. The thought of terrorizing German domestic life or of dominating Europe never entered the mind of this small, young troop.
HERR PELCKMANN: Can it be deduced from the organization of this Verfügungstruppe, even before the re-establishment of con-scription in 1936, that by its formation a breach of the Treaty of Versailles was intended?
HAUSER: Before the re-establishment of conscription, this tr6pp had consisted at the most of 4,000 to 5,000 men and could not be used -for either a defensive or an offensive war. And later, too, it was not prepared for war, as it had no divisional staff, no general staff, no replacement of men or officers. It was far from being ready for a war of aggression.
HERR PELCKMANN: What tasks did you personally have as inspector of the Verfügungstruppe?
HAUSER: I was not a commander vested with power to issue orders but rather an inspector responsible for the training and education of the troop. Beyond that, I had to enforce orders which I received from Heinrich Himmler on questions of organization.
HERR PELCKMANN: Did the replacements consist of volunteers? And where did they come from? What were the motives for their joining?
HAUSER: Until the beginning of the war replacements came from volunteers only. In the first years, that is in 1933 and 1934 only, they came from the General SS.
The volunteers were recruited in the entire country. Their applications, which were sent in in large numbers, were not determined by questions of ideology. They were men who wanted to do their military service in a well-known and highly motorized unit.
THE PRESIDENT: What relations existed between the Verfügungstruppe and the other various branches of the organization which were under Heinrich Himmler's uniform command?
HAUSER: I have mentioned already that only at the time of the establishment of the troop did we have personal contacts with the local Oberabschnitte of the General SS. These contacts decreased, especially when the inspectorate was established as a main office, and they ceased to exist altogether even before the war. There were neither official nor personal relations with the Death's-Head units, which had the task of guarding the concentration camps-a task belonging more to the Police sphere. Not even in the joint garrison at Dachau were there any relations. Neither were there any official or private contacts with the SD. The tasks of the SD were not known. I might mention that in peacetime I hardly spoke a dozen words to Obergruppenführer Heydrich, the chief of the SD, when I once met him in the antechamber of Heinrich Himmler's office.
THE PRESIDENT: What can you tell us about the task of the Death's-Head units?
BRILL: The tasks of the Death's-Head units were laid down in the basic decree of August 1938. At times they furnished guards for the concentration camps, although they had no permission to enter the camps. Their replacements were recruited among the German youth or among men who had already served their term of military service. Their training was not supervised by the Armed Forces but it was on military lines.
HERR PELCKMANN: Was service in the Death's-Head unit equal to service in the Armed Forces?
HAUSER: No, it did not count as service in the Armed Forces.
HERR PELCKMANN: And these young volunteers who were recruited, did they know that they were to be used to guard concentration camps? '
HAUSER: I did not have an insight into the recruiting of the Death's-Head units, but I do not believe that they were told the aim.
HERR PELCKMANN: What do you know about the participation of the Verfügungstruppe in the incidents of 30 June 1934 and 9 November 1938?
HAUSER: I cannot speak about the participation on 30 June 1934 for at that time I was not in the Verfügungstruppe, but I do know that the men of the Verfügungstruppe were convinced that the executions which were carried out had been caused by acts of the State executive power. The Verfügungstruppe was in no way connected with the excesses of 9 November 1938. The large majority, such as the Leibstandarte and the regiment at Munich and an the recruits, had gathered at Munich for the annual induction program.
HERR PELCKMANN: Now, what do you understand under the Waffen-SS?
HAUSER: After the beginning of the campaign in the autumn of 1939 three divisions at first were formed by men recruited from the Verfügungstruppe, the Death's-Head units, and from men who had been trained for the Police. All these were grouped together with various other smaller units and received the name of Waffen-SS. These few divisions proved their worth, and with the increasing need for more troops for the war they were gradually increased up to more than 35 divisions. The main reason for this unplanned growth is due to the fact that all racial Germans who volunteered from the north, from the east, and from the southeast of Europe, served in the Waffen-SS. The total strength, all losses considered, may be estimated at about 900,000 men. Only one-third, to one-half may have been Reich Germans.
HERR PELCKMANN: At the end of the war?
HAUSER: Yes, at the end of the war.
HERR PELCKMANN: The Prosecution asserts that the Waffen-SS deliberately participated in a war of aggression. Is that assertion correct?
HAUSER: The members of the Waffen-SS did not have the impression that they were participating in a war of aggression, and that they were being used for that purpose. They lacked any and all insight as to whether the war was one of aggression or one of defense. Their oaths bound them to their duties. It was not possible for them to refuse to participate in a war.
HERR PELCKMANN: Was there a uniform or unified SS High Command during the war? To whom were the divisions subordinate during the war?
HAUSER: A unified SS High Command did not exist during the war. The main office in Berlin was the leading administrative agency. All divisions of the Waffen-SS were incorporated into the Army and fought under the command and, in the final analysis, under the responsibility of the Army. I personally, in the 5 years and 6 months of the war, received orders only from the Armed Forces offices and agencies.
HERR PELCKMANN: Did Heinrich Himmler have any influence on the divisions of the Waffen-SS, and if so, what influence did he have?
HAUSER: The divisions which had been incorporated into the Army were subordinate to Heinrich Himmler only in matters dealing with personnel and replacements, with judicial questions and fundamental problems of organization.
HERR PELCKMANN: The Prosecution states that the Waffen-SS used special means of combat and that they deliberately fought cruelly, used terror methods, and carried out mass exterminations.
HAUSER: I must deny this emphatically. The troop was young, it had no tradition, and it had no name. It had to prove its worth first. The commanders had one ambition only, which was to win fame and prestige for this troop through courageous but fair methods of combat. Since some of the divisions fought together with the Army the generals of the Army would not have tolerated any methods deviating from regular fighting, and just as they took steps in tactical matters they would have stepped in if this accusation of a terrorist method of fighting had been justified. They would have noticed it just as we would have noticed it, for at critical times the commanders are on the road for days on end and they see how the troops are fighting and can judge what methods are being used.
HERR PELCKMANN: Were the officers and men instructed about adhering to international law?
HAUSER: Even in peacetime, as part of their training, the officers and men were instructed on the rules of the Geneva Con-vention and the Hague Rules of Land Warfare. This instruction and supervision, of course, were continued during the war.
HERR PELCKMANN: Is it correct that Himmler once said that the successes of the Waffen-SS were to be credited to terroristic measures?
HAUSER: Heinrich Himmler once used this expression in a speech. I reported to him ' that it was completely wrong, that we had not gained our successes through terror methods but only through the courage of officers and men who were ready to sacrifice themselves to the last man if necessity arose.
HERR PELCKMANN: What basic principles were applied by the troop for the treatment of prisoners of war?
HAUSER: The prisoners of war were treated according to the rules which applied in the Army, that is to say, that the billeting, the food, and the medical attention were just like in the Army. I myself, while lying wounded in different field hospitals, noticed that friend and foe were treated alike, and the old manner of dealing with prisoners was applied.
HERR PELCKMANN: Did these principles suffer any change by the naming of Himmler to the rank of commander-in-chief of the replacement army and thereby simultaneously to chief of the Prisoners of War Organization?
HAUSER: Not with regard to the Waffen-SS. But in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the replacement army Heinrich Himmler was also given authority over the Prisoners of War Organization, and he decreed that the Higher SS and Police Leaders at home be charged with the supervision of the security measures of the prisoner-of-war camps. I do not know the details however. I can only state that thereupon the Higher SS and Police Leaders were made generals of the Waffen-SS.
HERR PELCKMANN: The Prosecution asserts that the Waffen-SS, because of their will to destroy, committed Crimes against Humanity and crimes against the laws of war in the occupied countries and arbitrarily destroyed cities and villages. Did the Waffen-SS participate in those measures?
HAUSER: I had occasion to see these troops in many theaters of war. I lived with the population in the East and West. The relationship was always a good one. It was based on mutual aid and assistance. Where we had to call upon the population for work, for instance, in road building, they received food for their services.
The arbitrary destruction of villages would only have made it more difficult for us to get accommodations. I do not remember a single case in which the front troops of my division had ever taken hostages or destroyed villages as a punishment.
HERR PELCKMANN: Before the Eastern campaign, had you known of a decree of Hitler's which allegedly said that excesses of the troops toward the civilian population were not to be punished?
HAUSER: That was not the wording of the order. Rather, it left the decision as to whether the troops, in their excesses toward the civilian population were legally to be prosecuted by the court itself, whereas formerly the court was under obligation to prosecute. I personally had ordered in my district that, with the view to maintaining discipline, such excesses were to be prosecuted by law, and the judgments which were reported to the Reichsführer show that excesses were punished very severely.
HERR PELCKMANN: Do you know the Commissar Order?
HAUSER: The Commissar Order was addressed only to the corps. In 1941 we did not have any corps, that is general commands. Accordingly this decree was and is unknown to me, and therefore, we could not have been guided by it. I recall only having seen a later decree which demanded the segregation of the commissars. The troops, in reality, were not so much concerned with this order for the commissars were for the most part not recognized by the fighting troops.
HERR PELCKMANN: Was the fight against the partisans a special task of the Waffen-SS, and was this to be considered a fight of extermination?
HAUSER: The fight against partisans is a purely military, political, police ...
[The proceedings were interrupted by technical difficulties in the interpreting system.]
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn for today.
[The Tribunal adjourned until August 6, 1946 at 1000 hours.]
One Hundred and Ninety-Sixth Day
Tuesday; 6 August 1946
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will sit in closed session on Thursday afternoon. That is to say, it will not sit in open session after 1 o'clock on Thursday. It will sit in open session on Saturday morning until 1 o'clock.
HERR PELCKMANN: Witness, was the Waffen-SS a special fighting unit for the combating of partisans, and was the fight against the partisans considered to be a war of extermination?
HAUSER: The fight against partisans is a general military and political police measure, which can be assigned to any troop; front line troops of the Army and of the Waffen-SS were used only in exceptional cases, for instance when they were in the rear areas. There were usually no partisan fights in the operational areas; they mostly took place in the rear areas only. This fighting was mainly the task of the Security Division of the Army and special defense battalions, and besides these of police troops. Units of the Waffen-SS at the front were not especially trained for this kind of fighting and were assigned this duty just as little as Panzer divisions of the Army, for instance. In the East, units of my divisions were never used in the fight against partisans at any time. Therefore it was not a special task for SS units, and they were not especially trained or instructed for this purpose.
HERR PELCKMANN: What relation existed between the Waffen-SS on the one hand, the Security Police and Order Police and the so-called Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos of the SD on the other?
HAUSER: These various branches of the organization of Heinrich Himmler unfortunately wore the same uniform, though they had different insignia. The only thing they had in common was their chief, Heinrich Himmler. The various branches were completely separate from each other even before the war. This separation was intensified more and more during the war. The units of the Waffen-SS were under the command of the Army authorities. The other branches, SD, Police, et cetera, were subordinate to Himmler.
HERR PELCKMANN: Did you hear anything about the SD Einsatzgruppen?
HAUSER: At the beginning of the campaign I had heard, verbally, about as much about the SD Einsatzgruppen as the commanders-in-chief of the army groups knew, namely, that they were used in the rear areas alongside the Secret Field Police, with the task of screening the population and securing material from the enemy administration centers. I never had any personal contact with any of these branches and therefore I cannot give you any further information about their activity.
HERR PELCKMANN: Is it therefore true that only during your arrest did you hear anything at all about the participation of small units of the Waffen-SS, altogether about three to four companies, besides the Police and Gendarmerie?
HAUSER: Only during my arrest here did I hear of these matters.
HERR PELCKMANN: Did the Higher SS and Police Leader belong to the officers corps of the Waffen-SS?
HAUSER: The Higher SS and Police Leaders did not belong to the Waffen-SS. They had no authority to command and they had nothing to do with us.
HERR PELCKMANN: Did the Waffen-SS furnish the guard units and the so-called command personnel for the concentration camps?
HAUSER: The guards of the concentration camps and the personnel in the command did not belong to the Waffen-SS. Only in the course of the war were these units designated as Waffen-SS in order to release them from military service and give them freedom to carry out their police duties. The members of the Waffen-SS considered this measure, which they learned of only after the war, a deliberate deception on the part of Himmler. We did not have anything to do with the men of the concentration camps and the guard personnel.
HERR PELCKMANN: It has not become quite clear yet, Witness, just what you meant when you said "to release them from military service." Will you explain that in more detail?
HAUSER: All persons who served at home and in the Police had to be exempted from military service in the Army by the Wehrkreis or district commander in order to carry out their police tasks. That did not apply when all guard units were designated as Waffen-SS, for these were a part of the Armed Forces. In the main offices in Berlin these units, in order to differentiate them, were designated nominal Waffen-SS. But all this I learned only here later.
HERR PELCKMANN: The Prosecution asserts that the Waf-fen-SS was only a part of the whole SS organization and that as such it was needed for the carrying through of the joint criminal conspiracy. Please comment on this.
HAUSER: I believe that it can be gathered from all of my testimony that the Waffen-SS was a completely independent unit and connected with other organizations only through the person of Heinrich Himmler. This separation of the various branches was undoubtedly intensified during the war. Therefore, we could not have harbored common criminal plans with the others or participated in carrying them through.
HERR PELCKMANN: Surely you felt yourself to be a part of the Army?
HAUSER: We were completely incorporated into the Army, and the designation "fourth branch of the Army," although it was not an official designation, was really much to the point.
HERR PELCKMANN: Apart from the accusation concerning the concentration camps, the Prosecution further asserts that the Waf-fen-SS, on the basis of its training, was a particularly cruel military tool; and that is to be shown, allegedly, by the participation of the Waffen-SS men in the evacuation of the Warsaw ghetto and, so says the Prosecution, in the violations of international law such as the murder of prisoners of war. Is that correct?
HAUSER: I already testified, yesterday, that our training was not organized to that end, that our method of fighting was supervised and ordered by the Army, and that we did not gain prestige through cruel methods. The commanders who had personal pride in leading a clean fighting unit against the enemy saw to that. I learned only here of the participation of small units of the Waf-fen-SS in the evacuation of the Warsaw ghetto or in the executions which took place in Bohemia and Moravia. This can only be a question of small details of replacement units which were temporarily subordinated for a brief period of time.
I regret to say that during my arrest I heard of two trials against members of the Waffen-SS. One of these proceedings has not been concluded as yet, and my conscience does not allow me to make any comments on it.
HERR PELCKMANN: You mean the killing of prisoners?
HAUSER: Yes. These incidents are not the result of training, but rather the failure of individuals, perhaps the giving way of nerves when in difficult situations deep in enemy territory. But these accusations should not be generalized. Even if there had been ten instead of only two cases, the ratio as applied to the entire membership of the Waffen-SS of 1 million men would mean there would be one case to every 100,000 men. Such incidents are the results of the intensification of combat on the ground and in the long war; incidents which have occurred on both sides air during and will always continue to occur. You cannot hold the bulk of the Waffen-SS responsible.
HERR PELCKMANN: What influence did Heinrich Himmler actually have on the moral attitude of the members of the Waffen-SS?
HAUSER: Heinrich Himmler most assuredly tried in peacetime to exert his influence on the small Verfügungstruppe. During the war this was practically impossible. He did not address troops of the Waffen-SS. On occasion he did talk to some officers and commanders of some divisions in the field. It was generally known that Heinrich Himmler, who had done only 1 year's military service, had no conception of the military and underestimated the military tasks and the work involved. He liked to play the role of the strong man through exaggeration and through superlatives. If someone comes along with big words, the soldier on the front does not pay much attention.
Therefore, the influence of Himmler was very insignificant during the war. He wore his uniform, of course, but the reputation of the Waffen-SS was established by its officers, by the example they set and by their daily work.
HERR PELCKMANN: Was the influence of Himmler on the commanders perhaps stronger than on the masses of SS soldiers?
HAUSER: Quite the contrary. The commanders, of course, were under him so far as military obedience was concerned. But they had the right to criticize through their own experience of life and of the world, and as a matter of fact this criticism was necessary in the face of Himmler's extravagant and romantic ideas.
These men had enough experience so that they could translate his statements into the language and manner of thought of the soldier. The critical attitude toward Heinrich Himmler increased continually during the war. In most cases he believed that he could dispense with the advice of an experienced soldier. Objections were cut off short with the words, "This is the typical viewpoint of a general" -- viewpoints which he opposed.
HERR PELCKMANN: Is it correct that Heinrich Himmler in his speeches broke out into exorbitant invective against the Jews and the Slavs?
HAUSER: I know only about the speech at Kharkov in 1943, in which he mentioned three points which called forth our criticism and opposition. I have already expressed myself on the one point, namely, the terror which was to precede us.
His distasteful statements about the Jews referred to Germany only and did not indicate extermination in any way.
His references to the superior numbers of our Eastern enemy could only be interpreted by the common soldier to mean that this very superiority in numbers would have to be offset in battle.
HERR PELCKMANN: What special points of criticism did the officer corps direct against Heinrich Himmler?
HAUSER: Without doubt he thought that after the war the various organizations which were subordinate to him, the SS and perhaps the Police also, could be united into one organization, which was just the opposite of the situation during the war, and our intentions were directed against this.
HERR PELCKMANN: To what extent were the crimes in concentration camps, such as the extermination of the Jews, known to the Waffen-SS? I should like you to remember that you speak not only for yourself as a highly placed general, but that you also speak for the simple SS man, based on your own experience, of course.
HAUSER: It sounds quite unlikely, and foreign countries do not wish to believe that the members of the Waffen-SS as well as myself knew nothing of the crimes of which we have heard here. This perhaps may serve as an explanation: At home only those who had victims in the concentration camps learned, anything about them; only the ever-present secret opposition spread stories and rumors. This was kept from the SS man. If he happened to hear something by chance, he thought that it was hostile propaganda. Foreign radio broadcasts or newspapers were unknown to him for they were forbidden at home. The bulk of the Waffen-SS was facing the enemy. The war tasks grew from year to year and the efforts became more intense. The SS man did not have the time or opportunity to check rumors, and like myself he was surprised and indignant about all these things which Himmler had done contrary to what he had preached to us in peacetime.
HERR PELCKMANN: Do you know the speech of Himmler's made at Posen, in which he mentioned the fact that thousands and tens of thousands of Jews had been killed?
HAUSER: I did not hear that speech at Posen, and only learned of it here during my arrest. As far as I know, the speech was addressed to the leaders at home and in the occupied countries. Members of the Waffen-SS were not present at all, or if so, only in insignificant numbers.
HERR PELCKMANN: The units for the guarding of the concentration camps were designated as Waffen-SS as well, and ranks of the Waffen-SS were given to persons connected with the concentration camp system. Did you know anything about these matters during the war?
HAUSER: I have already mentioned that the designation of concentration camp guards as Waffen-SS men became known to me only after the war. However, I must add that Heinrich Himmler deliberately tried to efface the dividing lines between his various organizations before the eyes of the public, and examples of that are precisely the designation of the concentration camp guard units as Waffen-SS and the giving of ranks in the Waffen-SS to persons who had nothing to do with the fighting troops.
HERR PELCKMANN: Do you consider that the Waffen-SS, in its majority, participated in the crimes which indubitably were committed?
HAUSER: No. The Prosecution chains the Waffen-SS to the fate of Heinrich Himmler and a small circle of criminals around him. The Waffen-SS is taking this quite bitterly for it believes that in its majority it fought decently and fairly. It is far removed from these crimes and from the man who is responsible for them. I should like to ask the High Tribunal to please listen to the accounts and the judgments of the front soldiers on your side. I believe that they will not fail to show us respect. Wherever specific incidents occurred they were exceptions.
The Waffen-SS considers it quite unjust that it is being treated differently from the mass of the German Armed Forces and it does not deserve to be outlawed as a criminal organization.
HERR PELCKMANN: Mr. President, I have no further questions to this witness.
MAJOR JONES: Witness, you heard Himmler's Kharkov speech in April 1943 to the commanding officers of the three SS divisions in the East, did you not?
HAUSER: Yes, I heard that speech.
MAJOR JONES: And you remember that he ended his speech by saying: "We will never let that excellent weapon fade, the dread and terrible reputation which preceded us in the battle for Kharkov, but will constantly add new meaning to it."
Do you remember his saying that?
HAUSER: Yes, indeed.
MAJOR JONES: And your units of the Waffen-SS constantly added new meaning to your reputation for terror, did you not?
HAUSER: No. I have already expressed quite the contrary yesterday and today. I considered it as an insult to say that our successes were dependent on terror. Quite the contrary, I said that our successes resulted from the brave fighting of officers and men.
MAJOR JONES: Yesterday you told the Tribunal that the relations of the Waffen-SS with the local population were good, and that your Waffen-SS troops did not take hostages or destroy villages as punishments, or commit War Crimes. That was your evidence, was it not?
HAUSER: I said that the relations were unobjectionable and good, that we did not displace any part of the population to work in Germany.
MAJOR JONES: I want you to listen now to some documents I am going to put in with regard to the SS generally and with regard to the Waffen-SS in particular; first, two documents from your own sources.
The first, My Lord, is Document D-419, to be Exhibit GB-552. I am not proposing to cross-examine the witness as to these numerous documents, My Lord. It appears to be the, desire of the Tribunal that they should be put in as speedily as possible.
THE PRESIDENT: If they are new documents, you can cross-examine him upon them.
MAJOR JONES: If Your Lordship pleases. The first Document, D-419, is a report by a general of artillery named Petzel, dated 23 November 1939, with regard to the internal situation in the Warthegau, western Poland, incorporated into the Reich, as the document describes it.
I need not trouble you with the first page of the document, the report of 2 December and the letter of 30 November, but if you read the letter of General Petzel dated 23 November 1939, the second paragraph reads:
Then, the next paragraph:"The great work of construction in all spheres is not furthered by the intervention of SS formations, which are assigned for special racial political tasks and which are not subordinate in this respect to the Reichsstatthalter. There is a tendency to interfere, beyond the limits of these tasks, in all fields of administration and of forming a 'state within the state.'
"This phenomenon does not fail to have its effect on the troops, who are indignant about the way the tasks are carried out and thereby generally get into opposition to the administration and the Party. I shall exclude the danger of serious differences by strict orders. The fact that this makes a serious demand on the discipline of the troops cannot be dismissed without further ado."
The rest of the document I need not trouble you with."In almost all large towns, public shootings have been carried out by the aforementioned organizations; the selections varied enormously and were often incomprehensible, the executions frequently brutal.
"In some districts all the Polish estate owners were arrested and interned with their families. Arrests were almost always accompanied by looting.
"In the towns, evacuations were carried out, during which blocks of houses were cleared at random, the inhabitants loaded on- to lorries at night and then taken to concentration camps. Here also looting was a constant accompanying phenomenon. The quartering and feeding in the camps was such that the medical officer of the corps feared the outbreak of epidemics which would be a danger to the troops....
"In several towns actions against the Jews were carried out which turned into the most serious excesses. In Turek three SS cars under the leadership of a Higher SS Leader drove through the streets on 30 October 1939 while the people in the streets were hit on the heads at random with oxen reins and long horsewhips. Among the victims were also people of German blood. Finally a number of Jews were driven into the synagogue; there they had to crawl in between the benches while singing, during which time they were continuously whipped by the SS men. They were then forced to take down their trousers in order to be hit on the bare behind.
"A Jew who out of fright had dirtied his trousers was forced to smear the excrement into the faces of the other Jews.
"In Lodz it has become known confidentially that SS Oberführer Melhorn has issued the following orders:
"1) From November no unemployment relief may any longer be paid to Poles and Jews, only forced labor is paid for. (This measure has already been confirmed.)
"2) From 9 November, Jews and Poles will be excluded from the distribution of rationed foodstuffs and coal.
"3) Unrest and incidents are to be created by provocation in order to facilitate the carrying out of the racial political work."
That is an insight into the activities of the SS in Poland in November 1939.
The next German document is the Document D-578.
My Lord, my attention has been drawn to another sentence in the Document D-419, which I should like to draw the Tribunal's attention to, the last paragraph but one:
The Document D-578 is a report by a German Brigade Commander of the 1st Mountain Brigade, Colonel Pericic. It is dated 26 September 1943. This document, My Lord, will be Exhibit GB-553. It is a report on the activities of the SS units in the area of Popovaca in Bosnia. I only want to trouble you with the first two paragraphs:"As the military commander of Posen has already reported to the High Command of the Army, the men feel very strongly about the disproportion between their pay and the daily rate of pay of other formations which is many times higher than theirs."
"On 16 September 1943 an SS unit of 80 men marched from Popovaca to Osekovo for the compulsory purchase of cattle. I was not notified by anybody about the arrival of this unit in the technical operational area of the 1st Mountain Brigade and about the activity of this unit in the area for which I alone am responsible.
"A short time after their arrival in Osekovo this unit was attacked by partisans. Under the pressure of the numerically superior partisans, this unit had to retreat in the direction of the railway station, which they succeeded in doing, but they had four men seriously and several lightly wounded, among them the unit commander. One man was missing, and they also lost an armored car. The unit commander then reported from Popovaca by telephone that when he had to retreat, he had killed all persons who were in the open because he had no chance to distinguish between the loyal population and the partisans. He himself said that he killed about 100 persons in this incident."
Now I want to put in some documents from the victims of some of these atrocities, first from the Yugoslav Delegation, the Document D-945.
Witness, you appreciate that the Prinz Eugen Division was a division of the Waffen-SS, do you not?
[There was no response.]
THE PRESIDENT: Witness, did you hear that question?
MAJOR JONES: Witness, I asked you.
HAUSER: Yes, this division belonged to the Waffen-SS.
MAJOR JONES: The Document D-945, My Lord, will be Exhibit GB-554. It is an extract from a report to the Yugoslav State Commission for ascertaining the crimes of the occupiers and their accomplices. I want to read the second and third paragraphs:
"In accordance with the order of the commander of the 118th German Division, an SS battalion of the Prinz Eugen Division and a battalion of the Teufel Division under the command of the German Lieutenant Colonel Dietsche, carried out on 27 March 1944 and on the following days a 'purge action' from Sinj in the direction of..."various villages whose names are set out.
"On 28 March this SS battalion overran the villages of Otok Cornji, Ruda, and Dolac Dolnji one after the other and carried out horrible massacres, destructions by fire and looting. Those beasts murdered on a single day in the three above-named Dalmatian villages 834 people-besides grown-up men, also women and children-set on fire 500 houses and looted everything there was to be looted. They removed rings, watches, and other valuables from dead bodies. The mass slaughter was carried out in all the villages in the same horrible manner. The German soldiers gathered women, children, and men in one place and then opened fire on the crowd with machine guns, threw bombs at them, looted their property, and burned the bodies. In the House Milanovic-Trapo 45 burned bodies were found. In another house in the same village of Otok 22 unburned corpses were found in a pile. In the village of Ruda they collected all the people in one place and killed all of them. Those who happened not to be collected were killed when they were found. Not even the smallest babies at their mothers' breasts were spared. In some places the victims were soaked in petrol and set on fire. They also killed those who offered them hospitality out of fear. They also killed those people who were forced to follow them to carry their ammunition and other things. According to the evidence of reliable witnesses, the massacres were prepared beforehand, and this all the more so as the above-mentioned villages gave no reason whatsoever previous to the 'purge action' for any kind of reprisals..."
That report is signed by the President of the State Commission, Dr. Dusan Nedeljkovic, university professor.
Then the Document D-940, which will be Exhibit GB-555, which is another extract from the Yugoslav State Commission report signed by the same President of the State Commission, Dr. Dusan Nedeljkovic, on the crimes of the 7th SS Division, Prinz Eugen, it reads:
Then it accounts for the destruction of furniture. Besides this the German soldiers drove all the cattle away from the villages and plundered jewels and money before burning these villages. Then over on the next page:"The various German divisions operating in the area of occupied Yugoslavia marked their path by traces of devastation and annihilation of the peaceful population - traces which will testify to the criminal character of the German conduct of the war for many years to come. The operations of the German divisions were in reality punitive expeditions.
They destroyed and burned down whole villages and exterminated the civil population in a barbarous manner, without any military necessity whatsoever.
"The 7th SS Division, Prinz, Eugen, is famed for its cruelty." Then I go on to the next paragraph:
"Wherever it passed - through Serbia, through Bosnia and Herzegovina, through Lika and Banija or through Dalmatia - everywhere it left behind scenes of conflagration and devastation and the bodies of innocent men, women, and children who had been burned in the houses.
"At the end of May 1943 the Prinz Eugen Division came to Montenegro to the area of Niksic in order to take part in the fifth enemy offensive in conjunction with the Italian troops. This offensive was called 'Action Black' by the German occupying forces. Proceeding from Herzegovina, parts of the division fell upon the peaceful villages of the Niksic district.
"Immediately after its invasion, this formation, opening fire with all its arms, commenced to commit outrageous crimes on the peaceful villages for no reason at all. Everything they came across they burned down, murdered, and pillaged. The officers and men of the SS Division Prinz Eugen committed crimes of an outrageous cruelty on this occasion. The victims were shot, slaughtered, and tortured, or burned to death in burning houses. Where a victim was found not in his house but on the road or in the fields some distance away, he was murdered and burned there. Infants with their mothers, pregnant women, and frail old people were also murdered. In short, every civilian met with by these troops in these villages was murdered. In many cases whole families who, not expecting such treatment or lacking the time for escape, had remained quietly in their homes, were annihilated and murdered. Mole families were thrown into burning houses in many cases and thus burned.
"It has been established from the investigations entered upon that 121 persons, mostly women, and including 30 persons aged 60-92 years and 29 children of ages ranging from 6 months to 14 years, were executed on this occasion in the horrible manner narrated above.
"The villages.. ."and then follows the list of the villages- "were burned down and razed to the ground."
- and then there follow the names of about another 10 high-ranking German SS regimental and other commanders."For all of these most serious War Crimes those responsible besides the actual culprits-the members of the SS Division Prinz Eugen are all superior and all subordinate commanders as the persons issuing and transmitting the orders for murder and devastation.
"Among others the following war criminals are known: SS Gruppenführer and Lieutenant General of the Waffen-SS Phleps; Divisional Commander, Major General of the Waffen-SS von Oberkamp; Commander of the 13th Regiment, later Divisional Commander, Major General Schmidthuber; Commander of the 14th Regiment, later Divisional Commander, SS Standartenführer Bachmann; SS Sturmbannführer Dietsche; the Commander of the Italian 16th Regiment. .."
THE PRESIDENT: Well, shouldn't you ask whether they are Waffen-SS?
MAJOR JONES: Those men, Witness, were members of the Waffen-SS, were they not? Just look at the names.
HAUSER: I know part of these names. They were leaders in the Waffen-SS.
MAJOR JONES: Let us take them in turn - Phleps, divisional commander?
MAJOR JONES: He was a lieutenant general like yourself; wasn't he one of your colleagues in the Waffen-SS?
MAJOR JONES: And, SS Major General of the Waffen-SS Karl Ritter von Oberkamp. He was an SS, was he not?
HAUSER: I know the next few names: Oberkamp, Schmidthuber, and Dietsche; the rest of the names I do not know.
MAJOR JONES: But you do not deny that they were officers -from the description of them, that they were officers in the Waffen-SS?
HAUSER: I would assume so, even though I do not know the origin of this report. These are most likely reports which were gained by hearsay and were put together somehow.
MAJOR JONES: I won't trouble you with the value of the reports as documents, Witness. That is a matter for the Tribunal.
Now I want you to listen to documents which I am putting in on behalf of the Polish Delegation, again relating to the SS. The first series of documents relates to the shooting of hostages on the command of SS functionaries and by SS men. The first is Document 4041-PS, which will be Exhibit GB-556, which consists of 31 posters for the years 1943 to 1944, signed by the Chief of the SS and Police in Warsaw, or in some cases by the Commander of the Security Police and of the SD for Warsaw, announcing the killing of hostages.
The Tribunal will see that in those grim records of murder there are listed varying numbers of the victims of the Nazi occupation. In Poster Number 25, for instance, on Page 16, there is a list of 270 hostages shot; Poster 29, Page 20, there are 200 hostages shot; Poster 31, Page 26, there are 100 hostages. These SS shootings were certainly not an original SS conception. I hand in the two documents, 4038-PS and 4039-PS which are ...
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Elwyn Jones, I think you should ask the witness whether -- or put it to him, whether there is any connection between the Waffen-SS and this document.
MAJOR JONES: If Your Lordship please.
HAUSER: Unfortunately I have an English copy before me. I am not completely conversant with the English language and could not follow the question, but I gather that these are all measures which were taken in Warsaw. Just as in the case of the first document which dealt with the Warthegau, the Waffen-SS had nothing to do with Warsaw. These were definitely things ...
THE PRESIDENT: Wait until you are given the proper copy.
MAJOR JONES: I am not suggesting, naturally, My Lord, that all the documents I am putting in relate only to the Waffen-SS branch of the SS organization. The whole Prosecution's case on the SS is that there was a unity between the various sections of the SS.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but you should give him the opportunity of making his point if he 'wishes to.
MAJOR JONES: Yes, Your Lordship.
[Turning to the witness.] Have you had an opportunity of looking at those posters now, Witness?
HAUSER: I have seen that the signatures are only those of SS and Police Leaders, who had nothing to do with the Waffen-SS, as I have already stated earlier today.
The same applies to the incidents in the Warthegau where, in November of 1939, there were no units of the Waffen-SS. Documents 3 and 4 are the only ones that apply to the Waffen-SS where they mention the Prinz Eugen SS Division. I cannot check the date on that since I have never been to the, Balkans.
THE PRESIDENT: Was the Teufel Division also Waffen-SS? Was it Keitel's division?
HAUSER: No. There never was a Teufel Division.
MAJOR JONES: You say there never was a Teufel Division in Yugoslavia?
HAUSER: Not in the Waffen-SS, no.
MAJOR JONES: I shall call some subsequent testimony with regard to that, My Lord, if the Tribunal would allow me, at a later stage, to cross-examine on the whole question of the unity of the SS. It would involve putting in old documents and I understand that there was a certain reluctance on the part of the Tribunal to permit me to do that; but I should be quite content to draw the Tribunal's attention ...
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Elwyn Jones, the Tribunal doesn't desire you not to cross-examine but only not to read out and put to the witness documents which have already been put in; you can put the facts which are in the document to the witness for the purpose of cross-examination.
MAJOR JONES: If Your Lordship please. Then at a later stage in my cross-examination I will return to that subject if the Tribunal permits me to do so. I should like to put these documents in first, if I may.
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Elwyn Jones, I think what the Tribunal meant was that it did not want you to put long passages or short passages from documents which the witness has never seen and which are already in evidence but you may cross-examine the witness upon any document apart from that.
MAJOR JONES: If Your Lordship please. Then I shall return to cross-examination on this general issue after I have put these documents in, if I may, My Lord. I put in Documents 4038-PS'and 4039-PS, to be Exhibits GB-557 and 558, which show that the SS shootings in Warsaw were a continuation of the practice of the civil power of the Government General from the period before March 1941. I need not trouble the witness with these documents.
Then the Document D-956, to be Exhibit GB-559, which is an official Polish report on German crimes in Poland. I only desire to draw the Tribunal's attention to an entry on Page 184 of that report relating to the shooting of hostages, which says that the approximate number of Poles killed in Warsaw from the beginning of the public executions until the insurrection, from 5 -October 1943 until 1 August 1944, was about 8,000, most of whom had been caught in manhunts in the Warsaw streets.
HERR PELCKMANN: Your Lordship, may I be permitted to make a reference to the method of procedure?
Mr. Jones said that he does not wish to submit to the witness the document which he is now submitting to the High Tribunal. I am of the opinion that a submission of documents is possible at this stage only in connection with the cross-examination; that is, for ascertaining whether the statements of the witness are credible or not. Otherwise, the Prosecution could introduce new incriminating material without any connection. I should like to ask in that case to give the witness an opportunity to comment.
MAJOR JONES: I have no objection at all, of course, to the witness seeing all the documents. I was only, in the interest of time, referring to one sentence in this document which the witness heard interpreted, and I should have thought that was sufficient; but by all means I should let the witness see all the documents.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, the Tribunal has already ruled that these documents can be put in this way, and Mr. Elwyn Jones is referring to specific passages in the documents and you have the opportunity of re-examination and you have a copy of the document, and you can put any question you like upon the document when you come to re-examine.