Einsatzgruppe 20 Nov 1945 affidavit of Otto Ohlendorf

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Einsatzgruppe 20 Nov 1945 affidavit of Otto Ohlendorf

Post by David Thompson » 22 Sep 2004 20:44

Affidavit of Otto Ohlendorf, 20 November 1945 (Document UK-81) from Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume VIII. US Government Printing Office, Washington (DC): 1946; pp.596-606
I, Otto Ohlendorf, being duly sworn, declare:


1. I joined the NSDAP in 1925 and became a member under No. 6631. After training in jurisprudence and economics, in 1936 I became Economical Counsellor (Wirtschaftsreferent) in the Sicherheitsdienst des RF SS (SD) and was attached to SS as Hauptsturmfuehrer. From 1939 to 1946 I was Chief of AMT III SD Inland, (part time) of the Reichsicherheitshauptamt. My main position in the years 1938-1943 was responsible operating head of the Reichs Group Commerce. From 1943 to 1945 I was Ministerial Direktor and permanent representative of the State Secretary in the Reich Ministry of Economics. (See Appendix A)

2. The SD and Gestapo were departments in the main department of the Chief of the Security Police and SD (RSHA). Heydrich was the first chief of RSHA and served until his death in June 1942. In the interval between Heydrich's death and Kaltenbrunner's assumption of office, Himmler himself took over the direction of RSHA. Kaltenbrunner became Chief of the Security Police and SD (RSHA) on 30 January 1943 and served to 8 May 1945.

3. SD was an organ of the SS and as such a part of the Party organization.

SD was subordinated to Himmler as Reichsleader SS and not as Chief of the German Police. The vast majority of the members of the main department of SD belonged to the SS.

4. The Gestapo was founded in Prussia in year 1933. It was subordinated to Goering in his capacity as Prussian Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. The Gestapo was a State Agency. The majority of the officials, but not all officials, of the Gestapo belonged to the SS. The police, including the Security Police, were not part of the SS and were not subordinated to Himmler as Reichsleader SS but were subordinated to Himmler as Chief of the German Police.


5. Ernst Kaltenbrunner was known in the Party and State as the successor of Heydrich. I never learned of any regulation or directive according to which the Chief of the Security Police and the SD; Ernst Kaltenbrunner, was legally limited in his authority over the departments after taking office. I know, however, that for a number of matters concerning the State Police and Foreign Intelligence Service, Himmler in reality had reserved to himself the final decision, for example, in cases regarding final internment into and release from concentration camps. On the other hand, the normal procedure of effecting protective custody arrests was accomplished through AMT IV (Mueller) under the responsibility of the Chief of the Security Police and SD (Kaltenbrunner). So far as I know, Kaltenbrunner has never stated tothe Chiefs of the AMTs that he in his position as Chief of the Security Police and SD had been legally limited after taking over office.

6. It was the standard operating procedure in RSHA that all important matters emanating from the departments were presented to the Chief of the RSHA for information and approval. The Chiefs of the AMTs were further obliged to inform Kaltenbrunner whenever they dealt directly with Himmler. The regular channels of the departments to Reichsfuehrer SS were as well by way of the Chief of the Security Police and SD. The regular channels from the departments of the RSHA were through the Chief of the RSHA (Kaltenbrunner) to Reichsfuehrer SS (Himmler). I know that both the Chief of Department IV (Mueller) and the Chief of AMT VI (Schellenberg) repeatedly were in direct contact with Himmler. I cannot state whether Kaltenbrunner was informed of the matters dealt with in these direct contacts in every instance.

7. As Chief of the Security Police and SD, Kaltenbrunner must have been informed of the program for final solution of the Jewish problem. He must have known that the Reichafuehrer SS assumed the responsibility for the solution of this question. Chief of Department IV (Mueller) and Kaltenbrunner had a conversation in my presence, for instance, over the Theresienstadt problem which lead me to this conclusion. Kaltenbrunner knew also that the Commandos of the Security Police and of the SD were active in this program; also that the Security Police sent Jews to the Concentration Camps in connection with the fmaI solution of the Jewish problem.


8. A few weeks before the beginning of the Russian, campaign an agreement was reached between the OKW, OKH and the Chief of the Security Police and SD (Heydrich) according to which integral units of the Security Police and the SD were attached to the Army Groups and the units subordinated to them. The official title of the Chief of the units of the Security Police and SD was Beuftraegter (Commissioner and Deputy of the Security Police and SD) of the Chief of the Security Police and SD, attached to, for example, Army Group "X". The unit was called "Einsatz Group" and was subdivided into Einsatz Commandos and Special Commandos. The Special Commandos were in turn subdivided as the need arose into small units. According to the agreement, the professional work of the Security Police and the SD was basically under the jurisdiction of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD. The Army Groups and the units subordinate to them respectively were in charge of "Marsch" and foods supply. The order for the "Marsch" controls area and place into which the Einsatz Group or the Commandos had to move, the strength of the Commandos, and the time when the Commandos were to move into any area or place, and the length of stay. The Army Groups or the units subordinate to them respectively assigned additional tasks to the Einsatz Groups and their subsections. A precise line of demarcation was not fixed as between the directives by the Chief of the Security Police and SD and the right to issue directives of the Army Groups and the units subordinate to them respectively. The Army therefore issued directives covering the most varied spheres, for instance, the Army entrusted the units of the Einsatz Groups with gathering the harvest in Transnistria, the units were called upon to perform guard and control duties at bridges. The units were also used for operational Army tasks.

When the first large-scale executions took place the Army in Nikolajev ordered that liquidations were not to be carried out within 200 km of the site of Army Headquarters. In my capacity as Chief of Einsatz Group D, I was entrusted with the task to recruit Tartars in the Crimea for the Army. The Army intended furthermore to transfer to me the leadership of the operation against the Partisans on the Crimea. Einsatz Group D did not accept this task as I was able to explain to the Army the unsuitability of the Einsatz Group for this task. If, however, the Army had insisted upon this operation on the basis of military necessity, I would have been unable to decline. The liaison between the Einsatz Group and the Army Groups and the Army respectively were effected in general by a liaison chief on the part of the Einsatz Groups. Besides, regular conferences took place with the I C or I C AO's respectively as the main competent parties. The Chiefs of the Einsatz Groups had discussions at intervals with the Chiefs of Staff or the Commanders in Chief of the Army Groups or the Army respectively. In their activities the Chiefs of the Einsatz Groups had to take into consideration that the Commander in Chief of the Army was the supreme legal authority in the operational area (Master over life and death). In individual cases, the Commander in Chief of the 11th Army made use of this authority, for instance, the Army removed the proceedings against a Ukrainian member of the Simferopol City Council from the competent Einsatz Commando of the Security Police and SD in Simferopol, and finished the proceedings under its own jurisdiction.

9. For the Russian campaign, four commissioners of the Chief of the Security Police and SD were appointed and consequently four Einsatz Groups were established. The Einsatz Group A (Chief, Stahlecker, formerly Inspector of the Security Police and SD, last department head in the foreign office); the Einsatz Group B (Chief, Nebe, Head of the Reich Criminal Police Department, AMT V of the RSHA); Einsatz Group C (Chief, first Rasch or Rasche, last inspector of the Security Police and SD in Koenigsberg, later Thomas, last Commander of the Security Police and the SD in Paris) was attached to the three Army Groups in the East. The Einsatz Group D (Chief, Ohlendorf, later Bierkamp, last inspector of the Security Police and the SD in Hamburg) was attached to the 11th Army, Commander in Chief, first von Schoeber, later von Manstein.

10. The framework of the Einsatz Groups and Einsatz Commandos was formed by members of the Security Police and SD. In addition, the Einsatz Groups were supplied with units from the Order Police and the Waffen SS. The Einsatz Group D consisted of approximately 400 to 500 men and had at its disposal about 170 vehicles. There was courier service and radio communication between the Chief of the Security Police and the SD and the Einsatz Groups.

11. I had about four weeks advance notice of the planned war against Russia through Heydrich. The Einsatz Groups were staged in Pretz, Saxony, and vicinity. After designated leaders of the Einsatz Groups and Einsatz Commandos were gathered at Pretz and were informed of their tasks on the occasion of the presence of the Chief of AMT I of the RSHA, Streckenbach, by order of Heydrich.

In the course of conference, the Einsatz Groups and Commandos were given also the task of liquidating in the Russian territories Jewish and Communist functionaries in addition to the regular tasks of the Security Police and the SD. According to a communication from Himmler, the Chiefs of the Army Groups and Armies had been informed by Hitler about this mission and ordered to aid in its accomplishment. When Himmler in the late summer of 1941 spoke to the Commanders and men of the Einsatz Group D and their Commandos in Nikolajev, he repeated this order and added that neither the leaders nor the men who were to execute the liquidation would bear responsibility of their own. Rather, he himself, together with the Fuehrer, would bear the full responsibility for this order and its execution. The Fuehrer was mentioned almost parenthetically, whereas Himmler stressed his own responsibility.

12. The Einsatz Group D marched on or about 21 June 1941 from Duebin, Saxony, to its readiness position at Piatra Neamst, Rumania, through Hungary. Upon arrival in Piatra Neamst orders by the 11th Army were ready for the departure of the first Special Commandos. In northern and eastern boundary of the Einsatz space of the Einsatz Group D is marked by the following cities:

Tschernowitz, Mogilew-Podolsk, Jampol, Ananjew, Niko-lajev, Melitopol, Mariopol, Taganrog, Rostov. The space expanded to the south to Odessa over Cherson and included all of Crimea.

13. During the one year while I was Chief of the Einsatz Group D, the Einsatz Commandos and Special Commandos reported to have liquidated 90,000 men, women and children. The vast majority of the liquidated were Jews but there were also some Communist functionaries. It may be that in connection with liquidations in Simferopol, there were also gypsies among the liquidated or members of another tribe who were considered as Jews. The liquidations were executed by the Commandos within the space into which they had moved in accordance with orders given them by the Army. For the preparation of liquidations in cities, leading Jewish inhabitants were as a rule assigned to effect the registration of the Jews. Upon registration the Jews were gathered at a place under the pretext that they were to be resettled in another town. Prior to the liquidations the Jews had to surrender their valuables to the Commandos. Those selected for liquidation were either driven or led to the place of execution. The graves were in general either antitank ditches or natural crevices. In the Einsatz Group D the mass executions took place regularly in the form of shooting by details. The shooting by individuals was forbidden in Einsatz Group D, so that the men who were to perform the executions were not faced with the task of making personal decisions. The persons designated for liquidation were either shot while kneeling or standing upright. Only the head of units or specifically designated persons were permitted to give the coup de grace to those persons who were not killed at once. These directives were issued because I learned from members of Einsatz Groups from other areas that in those areas mass executions were performed by individuals who shot those persons designated for liquidation through the rear of the neck while lying or standing upright. With this method emotional upsets could not be avoided, however, either on the part of the victims or on the part of those who performed the executions. I, therefore, disapproved of this method. Immediately prior to the liquidation the victims had to rid themselves of their outer clothing. The complete undressing, which was partially customary in other areas, was likewise forbidden in Einsatz Group D.

14. Whereas the Army in general did not exert any influence in the liquidations, the Army had at Simferopol requested acceleration of the liquidations and rendered corresponding assistance in that it furnished trucks. Also, the Army officially did not make available liquidation commandos from its own units, however, almost everywhere individual execution commandos, for example, of the SHD or OT, participated in the executions.

15. While at first the clothes were distributed to the population, in the winter of 1941-42, a delegation of the NSV arrived in Simferopol which took over the clothes of the victims and disposed of them according to their own regulations. The gold and silver which was surrendered, was confiscated for the State and sent to the Reichs Ministry of Finance. Such objects as could be used immediately in the operational area were so used. For instance, in Simferopol watches were requisitioned by the Army and were made accessible through the Army to the combat troops.

16. In spring of 1942 two or three gas vans were sent to the Einsatz Group D by the Chief of the Security Police and SD in Berlin. These vans were furnished by AMT II of the RSHA. The gas vans were not included in the vehicle park of the group, but allocated as a separate unit to Einsatz Group D, under the leadership of Untersturmfuehrer Becker. In regard to the vans, an order existed by the Reichsfuehrer SS to the effect that in the future the killing of women and children was to be effected solely by gas vans. When a sufficient number of victims were rounded up, Commandos requested a gas van. The gas vans were brought to the collecting points before the liquidation took place. The victims were induced to enter the gas vans under the pretext that they were to be relocated. After closing the doors, gas was turned into the van by starting the engine. The victims died in ten to fifteen minutes without being conscious of the process. The commandos made use of the gas vans only reluctantly as they regarded their use an additional emotional burden upon the people who partook in the executions. I estimate that during my presence with Einsatz Group D only a few hundred were killed by means of gas vans.

17. I have been shown the letter (Document is designated OUSCC 501-PS) written by Becker to Rauff, the Head of the Technical Department in AMT II, of RSHA, concerning the operations of the gas vans. I knew both of these men personally and I believe it to be an authentic document.

18. I have seen the report of Stahlecker, Chief of Einsatz Group A. (Document is designated OUSCC L-180) about the activities of Einsatz Group A. It is stated in this report that Einsatz Group A during the first four months of the Einsatz action, had killed over 136,000 Jews and Communists. I knew Stahlecker and his way of reporting and, therefore, I am of the opinion that the document is authentic.

The above statement under oath, including Appendix "A", has been dictated, re-read and signed by me voluntarily and without compulsion.

Subscribed and sworn to before me on the 20 November 1945, at Nurnberg, Germany

/s/ Otto Ohlendorf /s/ S. W. Brookhart, Jr., Lt. Col., IGD

[Appendix "A" I..1 to Affidavit sworn by Otto Ohlendorf at Nurnberg, 20 November, 1945.]

After I joined the NSDAP in May 1925, I participated in all tasks which arose in the young and numerically small Party organization. I was at the same time Ortsgruppenleiter, treasurer and organizer of meetings. I distributed newspapers and leaflets, spoke in discussions at public meetings of other parties and served in the SA. Besides this, I, with three other Party members, were ordered to the SS service in 1926. However, at that time I did not engage in any SS activities because shortly thereafter I left my home town and was removed from the list of the SS. Therefore, I did not receive any SS identity card and learned of my then SS number 880 first in 1936 when, with reference to my early membership in the SS, I was again enrolled in the SS under my old number. Until 1936 I had no connection with the SS. During 1929-31 I spoke independently and on my own initiative at numerous Party meetings of the competent Gau Party Leadership at Hannover. At that time I studied at Goettingen and from there I worked especially in the town and area of Nordheim according to my own plan for the Party. I organized training courses and spoke at numerous evening discussions and public meetings. Despite my activity I remained a simple Party member as I avoided a too close connection with the official Party organs. Because of my own opinion at that time I was already separated from the real and personal ways of a Number of the leading Party members.

After my first legal State Examination in 1931, I went to Italy as an exchange student for one year. My reason therefor was to become acquainted with a movement which supposedly was parallel to National Socialism, and which had had ten years of practice and unlimited possibilities to develop. I became acquainted with Fascism in theory and practice. I became thoroughly acquainted with its organization and leading personalities. I arrived at the conclusion that in the case of Fascism, it was not a question of a new conception of people and state which further developed the individualism, but that it was another system of absolute power which was formed around the person of Mussolini. The human beings and people in Fascism had no values in themselves, but were objects of the State and derived their value and recognition from the State as the sole reality. From this fact originated the irreconcilable contrast National Socialism, which is founded on the reality of the value of life in the individual human beings and the people, and, therefore, in contrast to Fascism subordinated the State to the needs of the people. After my return from Italy I stayed away from Party work until the assumption of power. I received no positive answer to the reports on Fascism which I sent to the Party Leadership and wanted first to become oriented on further development of the Party within the Reich. Furthermore, it was my definite resolution to continue my own life independently of the Party. After the assumption of power I, therefore, remained in legal training. At the meetings I mostly spoke on the theme of Fascism and National Socialism in order to point out the dangers which threatened National Socialism by copying the Fascist organizational forms and the insufficient differentiation from the Fascist program.

I considered Fascism the primary opponent of National Socialism. In other European countries there already existed Fascist movements and Fascism conducted a continuous and purposeful propaganda all over Europe. Therefore, I considered the offer of Professor Jens Jessen to become his assistant at the Institute for World Economy at Kiel, to serve my purposes, especially because I could found a section for Fascism and National Socialism and in that way have a good opportunity to fight against the plans of introducing Fascism into National Socialism. Between 1933 and 1938, I attempted to obtain a total picture of the complete literature in German and Italian which concerned intellectual, cultural, sociological or economical themes, as well as State theories. Both this literature and the National Socialistic policy in practice showed after the assumption of power that the still immature National Socialistic ideology was diverted from the principles of its original world picture. Theorists, as well as responsible leaders in Party and State, believed that they could conquer temporary difficulties in State and economy, education and culture, only by use of old methods belonging to past stages of civilization. At this time, it was my greatest wish to write an analysis of the spiritual and formative impulses in the National Socialistic work of the present time in order to draw the attention of the leading National Socialist circles and young scientists to the spiritual principles which they used as supposedly National Socialist. However, foreign tendencies became increasingly stronger especially at first in the food economy and later on during the Four Year Plan in the rest of the economy, in communal politics, and in the complete field of science. Therefore, I accepted an offer in 1936, again from Professor Jessen, which gave me the opportunity by means of the SD des Reichsfuehrer SS to report to the highest leader posts in Party and State and in such way advance my plans based on observation of the theoretical and practical development of people and State.

As many personal and essential matters made this task difficult, I grasped this opportunity to participate in the execution of the original National Socialist principles with special satisfaction. These principles advocated, as the foremost goal of National Socialism, to develop the best characteristics of the people and to form them into a community of equality and to furnish the best possible spiritual and moral existence for the individuals of the people. I undertook the task with heart and soul when I worked in Reich Group Commerce and when I was Ministerial Direktor and permanent deputy of the State Secretary in the Reich Ministry of Economy, I understood together with many others, that a necessary phase within the evolution would be strong controversies with the Party and State. Only against strong opposition of the old spiritual forces could the goal be achieved which would make the welfare and dignity of man the real conception of politics; also to achieve in the economy that man should become basis and decisive subject of the measures of the political economy, this especially because the economy is the most important and preponderant molder of man's destiny. National Socialism seemed to be the first attempt to find a natural synthesis between the free, intended to be independent man of individualism and the actual bonds life compels on him in the community in which he finds himself. In order to achieve this synthesis, National Socialism ought to signify self consciousness, and the inner freedom of man, from which the laws for the natural order of the people's community could be recognized and accomplished with conviction. This idea did not, however, find a period of calm in which it could be developed spiritually and in active daily life. The collapse of the National Socialist system in Germany has shown that the forces favoring highly developed human communities were not strong enough to carry through to this goal.

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