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Copy of document 3723-PS
Testimony of GOTTLIEB BERGER, taken at Nurnberg, Germany, on 20 September 1945, 1030-1207, by Col. Howard A. Brundage, JAGD, OUSCC. Also present: Siegfried Ramler, Interpreter and Pvt. Clair Van Vleck, Court Reporter. COLONEL BRUNDAGE TO THE INTERPRETER: Q. Will you state your name? A. Siegfried Ramler. Q. By whom are you employed? A. Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel. Q. What are your present duties? A. Interpreter. Q. Will you stand, please. Do you solemnly swear that you will truly and accurately translate from German into English and English into German, all of the testimony to be given at this hearing? A. I do, so help me God. [Page 461] COLONEL BRUNDAGE TO THE WITNESS THROUGH THE INTERPRETER: Q. You are the same Gottlieb Berger, who appeared before me yesterday? A. Yes, I was here yesterday. Q. During 1944, will you tell me what your duties and functions were in conjunction with prisoners of war? A. Yes. May I first present to you for the record a chart of my chief office, as I mentioned yesterday. Q. Yes. A. I testified under oath yesterday and I do not want to give the impression that I want to keep quiet about anything regarding my office. Q. Let the record show that the witness has presented a hand- written chart, showing the organization of the SS office. A. SS Chief Office. Q. And on the reverse side is the whole organizational frame of the Reichsfuehrer SS Heydrich [sic] Himmler. Was Kaltenbrunner the superior of Pohl? A. No. All these twelve chiefs that I mentioned here were always directly responsible to Himmler. Q. Do you know what the duties and functions of Kaltenbrunner were? A. He was Chief of the whole Security Police. Q. What did he have to do with concentration camps? A. He was the man who executed orders. He was the last man because Mueller was subordinate to him. Q. Then Pohl didn’t fit into that chain of command? A. Yes; Pohl did not fit into that chain because the whole organization is not organic. It was a specialty of Himmler to give one task to two different people. Q. Just what did Kaltenbrunner do? A. This is very difficult to answer. He had his service post in Berlin there. The different group chiefs that I have mentioned here, such as Mueller, Nebe, I have written it all down, Dr. Schellenberg, they conferred with him daily; and there, in this conference, all the difficulties, shall I say, the more important problems that occurred in the different groups, were discussed and decided upon. Starting early summer 1944, Kaltenbrunner personally conferred with Hitler without having Himmler there. While otherwise, Himmler was always careful to see that none of his men had conferences with the Fuehrer, without his being present too. [Page 462] Q. As Security Police, what were, normally, his duties? A. He was the guarantor of the interior security and order inside Germany. Q. That put him at the head of the Gestapo; is that right? A. Yes. He had all the interior police under him, not only the Gestapo, but also the criminal police and the SD under him. Q. When people were arrested and put into concentration camps, that was done with Kaltenbrunner’s men? A. Yes. Q. Did he also have the authority to name the camp in which these men were going to be placed? A. Certainly. Q. Did he also have the authority to issue orders to the commandant of the camp? A. Certainly. Q. He was also superior to the Death-head Guards and, likewise, the civilian employees of the camps? A. No; that was Glucks. May I add something to this? Q. Yes. A. When I say that he certainly had the right to give orders to camp commandant, I mean to say that whenever I tried to get somebody out of a concentration camp, I have never been able to do so without the consent of Mueller, and that also means Kaltenbrunner. Q. Mueller was his direct assistant? A. Yes; directly under him. Q. Assuming, only for the purposes of this discussion, that these atrocities that we hear about are true, who did you think is primarily responsible? A. The first one, the commandant; the second one, Glucks, because he was practically responsible for all the interior direction of the camps. If one wants to be exact, one would have to find out how the information service between the camp commandant and Glucks actually operated. I want to give you the following example; during the night of the 22nd and 23rd of April, I was sent to Munich. As I entered the city, I met a group of perhaps 120 men dressed in the suit of the concentration camps. These people made a very starved impression on me. I asked the guard who was with them: “What about those men.” He told me that these men were marching, by foot, to the Alps. Firstly, I sent him back to Dachau. Then I wrote a letter to the commandant, to send no more people by foot to any place, but whenever the Allies advanced any further, to give over the camp completely. I [Page 463] did that on my own responsibility and I told him that I came straight from Berlin and that I can be found in my service post in Munich. The commandant, or his deputy, telephoned at about twelve o'clock and told me that he had received this order from Kaltenbrunner, after he had been asked by the Gauleiter of Munich, the Reichskommissar. It could be that even Gauleiters, in their nature as Reich Defense Commissars, have directly mixed up in concentration camps and have also given direct orders to the concentration camps. A. What was the result of this letter that you wrote to the commandant of Dachau? A. Everything went in order for two days, and about on the 28th of April, when I returned from Kesselring, I saw, perhaps, 500 men in terrible condition near Wolfratshausen, 60 kilometers south of Munich. I held them up. At that time they were at an explosive works and I have the order to the group leader to house the men immediately in the empty barracks that were near the street and to hold up further troops. I got in touch with the Kreisleiter in Wolfratshausen myself, as I could not get in touch with the Landrat, and he promised me to care for them. He actually kept his promise, as I found out in the following days. In spite of my order to keep the men there, and in spite of the same order that came from Kaltenbrunner, the Reich defense commissar said that he supposedly got an order from the Fuehrer, in which it was stated that these camps have to be cleared immediately. There was quite a clear mix-up where the Gauleiter dealt with things directly.