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August 16, 2012

Kurt Becher’s affidavit incriminating Ernst Kaltenbrunner at the Nuremberg IMT

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:16 am

Kurt Becher was an SS officer who was involved in the famous “Jews for Trucks” incident near the end of World War II.  When the war was over, Becher was arrested by the Allies and taken to Nuremberg, but he was not put on trial.  He was a “Righteous Gentile” because he had saved Jews.

SS officer Kurt Becher

Kurt Becher did not testify at Nuremberg, but he did sign an affidavit which was entered into the Nuremberg IMT. In his affidavit, Becher claimed that he had personally caused Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler to issue an order which forbade any liquidation of Jews at Mauthausen.  Himmler was dead, so he was not on trial. The affidavit was read in court because it contained accusations against Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was on trial as a war criminal.

But before we get to Becher’s affidavit and the accusations against Kaltenbrunner, here is the back story on the “Jews for Trucks” episode:

On August 21, 1944, three SS officers (Kurt Becher, Max Grüson and Hermann Krumey) and Rudolf Kastner (a representative of the Budapest Jews) met with Saly Mayer, a leading member of the Jewish Community in Switzerland.

The meeting took place in the middle of a bridge at St. Margarethen, on the border between Germany and Switzerland. Saly Mayer had refused to enter Germany and he also did not want the SS men to enter Switzerland, according to Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer.

Kurt Becher asked for farm machinery and 10,000 trucks, and in return, he promised to free 318 Hungarian Jews from Bergen-Belsen. In a show of good faith, the train with the 318 Jews was already waiting at the Swiss border. Mayer offered minerals and industry goods instead of the trucks.

A second group of 1368 Hungarian Jews left the Bergen-Belsen camp on December 4, 1944 and entered Switzerland just after midnight on December 7th, according to Yehuda Bauer.

Altogether, there was a total of 2,896 Jews released for ransom, including a transport of 1210 Jews from the Theresienstadt Ghetto who entered Switzerland on February 7, 1945.

According to Yehuda Bauer, Becher later claimed that he had persuaded Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler not to deport the Budapest Jews, and that was why Himmler issued an order to stop the deportation of the Hungarian Jews three days later.

Now, back to the trial of Ernst Kaltenbrunner:

On 12 April 1946, the one hundred and sixth day of the Nuremberg IMT, the prosecutor read the affidavit of Kurt Becher, who was not in the courtroom.

The text of the affidavit is quoted below:

“I, Kurt Becher, formerly a colonel in the S.S., born 12th September, 1900, at Hamburg, declare the following under oath:

Between the middle of September and the middle of October, 1944, I caused the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler to issue the following order, which I received in two originals, one each for S.S. Generals Kaltenbrunner and Pohl, and a copy for myself:

By this order, which becomes immediately operative, I forbid any liquidation of Jews and order that on the contrary, care should be given to weak and sick persons. I hold you (and here Kaltenbrunner and Pohl were meant) personally responsible even if this order should not be strictly adhered to by the subordinate offices.

I personally took Pohl’s copy to him and left the copy for Kaltenbrunner at his office in Berlin. In my opinion Kaltenbrunner and Pohl bear the responsibility after this date for any further killings of Jewish prisoners.

When visiting Mauthausen Concentration Camp on 27th April, 1945, at 9.00 a.m. I was told, in the strictest secrecy by the camp commandant, S.S. Colonel Ziereis, that ‘Kaltenbrunner gave me the order that at least a thousand persons have still to die at Mauthausen each day.’

The facts mentioned above are true. This declaration is made by me voluntarily and without coercion. I have read it through, signed it, and confirmed the statement with my oath.”

The most important part of Becher’s affidavit was his accusation that Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner had ordered 1,000 prisoners per day at the Mauthausen camp to be killed, even after Himmler had ordered that no more prisoners should be killed at Mauthausen.  Becher claimed that Mauthausen Commandant Franz Ziereis had personally told him, while he was on a visit to the camp, that Kaltenbrunner had given the order to continue killing prisoners.

After this affidavit was read in court, Kaltenbrunner was asked:

“Is that true or false, defendant?”

Kaltenbrunner’s answer is given in full in this quote from the testimony at the IMT:

A. In part it is correct and in part it is not. I shall explain it sentence by sentence.

Q. No. Suppose you simply tell us what you claim to be false, because we must get on with this.

A. I quite believe that you want to save time, but this is a question of establishing my guilt or my innocence and to do that I must be given an opportunity to make a statement in detail. Otherwise neither you nor the Tribunal would know the truth, And that is what we want here, isn’t it? I am glad that this witness Becher was found and that this statement is available, because it proves, firstly, that in September or October, 1944, Himmler was forced to issue this order, that same Himmler, about whom it has been established that since 1939 or 1940 he has committed the crime of killing Jews on the largest scale.

And now we must find out why in September or October Himmler had given such an order. Before I had seen this document I stated yesterday and today that this order was issued by Hitler through my intervention, and obviously this order from Himmler is based on another order which he received from Hitler.

Secondly, it is clear to me that Himmler gave such an order to Pohl as the person responsible for the concentration camps in which Jews were kept and that he gave the information to me as the person who had opposed him in this case. Where Becher is concerned, I should like to go into the question a little further.

Through this man Becher, Himmler committed some of the worst possible crimes, crimes which have been exposed here. Through Becher and the Joint Committee in Hungary and Switzerland he released Jews in exchange, first, for war equipment, then, secondly, for raw material and thirdly, for foreign currency. I heard about this through the Intelligence Service and immediately attempted to stop it – not through Himmler, because there I would have failed, but through Hitler; – at the moment any personal credit Himmler might still have had with Hitler was at an end – for this action might have damaged the reputation of the Reich abroad in the most serious manner.

At the same time my efforts in connection with Burckhardt had been going on, and now you understand why the witness Schellenberg stated that Himmler had said to him: “I am alarmed now. Kaltenbrunner has got me under his thumb. This means that Kaltenbrunner has completely exposed the things I was doing in Hungary and has told Hitler about it.”

This order was an attempt to camouflage the matter and to get out of the whole thing by pretending that the responsibility rested on Kaltenbrunner and Pohl. According to this document the responsibility rested on Himmler and Pohl, but, Kaltenbrunner had to be included and be told about it because otherwise he might bring the subject up with Hitler any day. That was the intention of the document.

This witness Becher is now in Nuremberg. Will you allow me to confront him here? I am quite able to prove to the world with the help of this witness that, starting with the transfer of the so-called Weiss AG. in Hungary up to that day, Himmler, Pohl and Becher, and the two committees in Hungary and Switzerland, were running this business. And I can prove how I fought against it.

There is yet another accusation in this document, that on 27th April I am supposed to have given a strictly secret order to Ziereis that a thousand Jews had to be destroyed in Mauthausen every day. I ask you to have the witness Hoettl, who is also held here, called in immediately, so that I may ask him on what day I dictated and sent by courier to Mauthausen the order that the entire camp, with all its inmates, be surrendered to the enemy. The witness will then confirm to you that this order was given several days before 27th April and that I could not have given orders to the contrary on the 27th.

In spite of Kaltenbrunner’s testimony which proved his innocence, he was convicted and hanged as a war criminal.

8 Comments

  1. nazis guilty by virtue of their allegiance.I believe they got carried away with power.And power is a destructive thing!!!!!!!!

    Comment by marie lynagh — March 3, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

  2. A war that should have never happened. Millions dead . Think how many of those millions that perished where at the genius level, scientists that could have
    cured cancer if they had lived.

    We are our worst enemy, and the worst part is history continually repeats itself. baffling

    Comment by Ted — October 25, 2012 @ 7:15 am

  3. Have you read American-Jewish-Zionist Ben Hecht’s “Perfidy” about the trial of Rudolf Katsner in Israel for collaborating with the Nazis?

    Hecht quotes from a letter which featured in the trial:

    R. Kastner to Jewish Agency Official, July 26, 1948:

    “Kurt Becher was an ex-S.S. Colonel and served as a liaison officer between me and Himmler during our rescue work. He was released from prison in Nuremberg by the occupation forces of the Allies owing to my personal intervention.” (exhibit 22)

    He also from an affidavit Katsner gave to the American Evidence Division of the IMT, August 4, 1947:

    “There can be no doubt about it that Becher belongs to the very few S.S. leaders having the courage to oppose the program of annihilation of the Jews, and trying to rescue lives … I make this statement not only in my name but also in behalf of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish World Congress.”

    Hecht also claims that when he wrote the book (published 1961) that Kurt Belcher was one of the richest men in West German with a fortune of $30 million, and that his “firm, the Cologne-Handel-Gesellschaft, does a fine business with Israel’s government.”

    Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — August 18, 2012 @ 5:58 am

  4. Very interesting post FG.

    Dr. Kurt Kauffmann, Kaltenbrunner’s defence counsel, also attempted to have Wilhelm Hoettl’s affidavit 2738-PS stricken from the record on December 14, 1945.
    p.571: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/12-14-45.asp

    This is of course the affidavit from which the 6,000,000 figure of murdered Jews is claimed to originate from (an easily disproved lie).

    His argument was:

    “As can be seen from the affidavit, Dr. Hoettl was interrogated on the 26th of November hardly 3 weeks ago. Moreover I gather that Dr. Hoettl is kept in custody here in Nuremberg. No delay would therefore be involved if this witness were called to the stand.

    This man held a significant position in the SS and for that reason I have already applied in writing that he be called as a witness. I am convinced that there is a large amount of important evidence which he can reveal to the Court. Dr. Hoettl’s deposition is infinitely important. The death of millions of people is involved here. His affidavit is based largely on inferences, on hearsay; I believe that the facts are very different, and I would not like to apply later, after weeks or months, for the witness to be brought into Court.”

    But unsurprisingly, the President of the trial refused the request, although he stated that Kauffmann could apply for Hoettl to appear as a witness, something he knew Kauffmann had already done, and as you know, something that never happened.

    Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — August 18, 2012 @ 5:22 am

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsequent_Nuremberg_Trials

    Conduct of the prosecution

    In a 2005 interview for the Washington Post (Hungarian Jew) Benjamin B. Ferencz, Chief Prosecutor for the United States Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trial, revealed some of his activities during his period in Germany:
    Americans delivered some low-ranking German suspects to displaced persons camps for the purpose of having them executed by the DPs, without prior trial or sentencing.[1]
    “I once saw DPs beat an SS man and then strap him to the steel gurney of a crematorium. They slid him in the oven, turned on the heat and took him back out. Beat him again, and put him back in until he was burnt alive. I did nothing to stop it. I suppose I could have brandished my weapon or shot in the air, but I was not inclined to do so. Does that make me an accomplice to murder?”[1]
    In the interview, Ferencz also pointed out that the military legal norms at the time permitted actions that would not be possible today.
    “You know how I got witness statements? I’d go into a village where, say, an American pilot had parachuted and been beaten to death and line everyone one up against the wall. Then I’d say, ‘Anyone who lies will be shot on the spot.’ It never occurred to me that statements taken under duress would be invalid.”[1]

    Comment by who dares wings — August 17, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

  6. so in what way implies a decree of Himmler demanding to ‘stop’ (if that was the word, please show us the original) the killing of jews and ordered good treatment for the sick that he previously had ordered to eliminate them? it tells me he never ordered such a thing in the first place and that he was just reminding of camp rules and stop the diseases to avoid more loss of camp workers. In a himmler bashing book with 300 office HH letters there is not one stating about killing jews, the opposite there is, that none could be executed without his consent.you can always explain things backwards to fit a lie. so sometimes ‘nazis’ wanted to clean their record in 1944 by stopping the killing while other holohoaxers state the opposite that the nazis wished to take everyone down with them. BS It is sad to see that even kaltenbrunner falls in his statement for the himmler lie. so what did Himmler say FG?

    Comment by wolf — August 17, 2012 @ 7:38 am

  7. The statement does not prove his innocence. The statement proves that nearing the time of the Allied’s successful invasion most Nazi’s were aware of their culpability as war criminals and that they would be sought out and punished as such. Prior to the enemy drawing nearer, not one of these defendants, including Becher, would have given a second thought to continue killing the Jewish populations in these concentration camps. The fact that there were in concentration camps ran by these individuals is enough to have them criminalised for crimes against human rights, given the knowledge we possess as to what the purpose of all the camps were about.

    Comment by mogseyward — August 17, 2012 @ 4:59 am

    • I see that English is not your native language and because of that, you have completely missed the point of my blog post. Kaltenbrunner was not allowed to confront the witnesses against him, as is customary in a court of law. Becher testified through an affidavit and Kaltenbrunner’s demand that he be allowed to confront Becher in court was denied. Kaltenbrunner also requested that another witness, Hoetl, be brought into court to corroborate Kaltenbrunner’s claim that he had ordered all the Mauthausen prisoners to be surrendered to the Allies. This request was denied. Becher claimed in his affidavit that he was told by Ziereis on April 27, 1945 that Kaltenbrunner had given an order that 1,000 prisoners per day should be killed in the last days of the war. Hoetl could have testified that Kaltenbrunner had given an order several days prior to April 27th that the prisoners should be turned over to the Allies.

      The point that I was trying to make is that the Nuremberg IMT was a “show trial” which did not follow the rules of a real trial.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 17, 2012 @ 6:34 am


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