Handbook On German Military Forces - The Illustrated Edition - Volume 2 (Hitlers War Machine)

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View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title The definitive work on Hitler's war machine, charting its evolution from the formidable force which won stunning victories during the Blitzkrieg in , to the hard campaigns it fought in the deserts of North Africa and the frozen wastelands of the Soviet Union to the eventual retreat to the Fatherland itself.

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Weltz will be charged with the execution and Capt. Rascher will be made available until further orders in addition to his duties within the Medical Corps of the Air Corps. A change of these measures does not appear necessary, and an enlargement of the task is not considered pressing at this time.

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It is urgently needed at another place and therefore can no longer remain in Dachau. Having finished his high-altitude experiments, Dr. Rascher proceeded to experiment with methods of rewarming persons who had been subjected to extreme cold. On 10 September he rendered an intermediate report on intense chilling experiments which had been started in Dachau on 15 August PS.

A life jacket made of rubber or kapok was to prevent submerging. The experiments were carried out at water temperatures varying from 2. Fatalities occurred only when the brain stem and the back of the head were also chilled. The heart invariably showed extreme dilation of the night chamber. As soon as the temperature in these experiments reached 28, the experimental subjects VP died invariably, despite all attempts at resuscitation. I think that for this reason we can dispense with the attempt to save intensely chilled subjects by means of animal heat. Although Rascher was of the preliminary opinion that rewarming by women's bodies would be too slow, means for conducting such experiments were nevertheless placed at his disposal.

Four girls were set aside who were in the Concentration Camp due to loose living, and being prostitutes, they formulate a danger of contagion. To insure the continuance of Rascher's experiments, Himmler arranged for his transfer to the Waffen SS. Rascher, who is a physician of the air force on leave Arzt des Beurlaubtenstandes Der Luftwaffe. I personally assumed the responsibility for supplying asocial individuals and criminals who deserve only to die todeswuerdig from concentration camps for these experiments. Rascher, Stabsarzt in reserve, from the air force and to transfer him to me to the Waffen-SS.

I would then assume the sole responsibility for having these experiments made in this field, and would put the results, of which we in the SS need only a part for the frost injuries in the East, entirely at the disposal of the air force. However, in this connection I suggest that with the liaison between you and Wolff a "non-Christian" physician should be charged, who should be at the same time honorable as a scientist and not prone to intellectual theft and who could be informed of the results.

This physician should also have good contacts with the administrative authorities, so that the results would really obtain a hearing. Rascher to the SS, so that he could carry out the experiments under my responsibility and under my orders-is the best way. The experiments should not be stopped; we owe that to our men. If Dr. Rascher remained with the air force, there would certainly be much annoyance; because then I would have to bring a series of unpleasant details to you, because of the arrogance and assumption which Professor Dr.

Holzloehner has displayed in the post of Dachau-who is under my command-about me in utterances delivered to SS Colonel Sievers. In order to save both of us this trouble, I suggest again that Dr. Rascher should be transferred to the Waffen SS as quickly as possible. Rascher's experiments were by no means the only experiments in which the SS was interested. Without attempting even to outline the whole extent of the experimental program, one further illustration of this type of SS activity may be mentioned.

Mrugowsky, 12 September , relating to experiments with poisoned bullets. Ding, Dr. Widman and the undersigned, experiments with Akonotinnitrate bullets were carried out on five persons who had been sentenced to death. The caliber of the bullets used was 7. Each subject of the experiments received one shot in the upper part of the left thigh, while in a horizontal position.

In the case of 2 persons, the bullets passed clean through the upper part of the thigh. Even later no effect from the poison could be seen. After 20 to 25 minutes, a disturbance of the motor nerves and a light flow of saliva began, but both stopped again. After 40 to 44 minutes a strong flow of saliva appeared. The poisoned persons swallowed frequently, later the flow of saliva is so strong that it can no longer be controlled by swallowing.

Foamy saliva flows from the mouth. Then, a sensation of choking, and vomiting start. The next three paragraphs describe in coldly scientific fashion the reactions of the dying persons. That description then concludes:. One of the poisoned persons tried in vain to vomit. In order to succeed he put 4 fingers of his hand, up to the main joint, right into his mouth.

In spite of this, no vomiting occurred. His face became quite red. Other symptoms were the same. Later on the disturbance of the motor nerves increased so much that the persons threw themselves up and down rolled their eyes and made aimless movements with their hands and arms. At last, the disturbance subsided, the pupils were enlarged to the maximum, the condemned lay still.

Massetercramp and loss of urine was observed in one of them. Death occurred , and minutes after they were shot. The fact that SS doctors engaged in such experiments was no accident. It was consistent with an ideology and racial philosophy which, to use Himmler's own words, regarded human beings as lice and offal.

But the most important factor was the fact that only the SS was in a position to supply necessary human material. And it did supply such material through WVHA. A letter from the Department Chief of Office Group D of WVHA, 12 May , addressed to the commandants of all concentration camps dealt with the assignment of prisoners for the experimental purposes:.

It was on the basis of its ability to supply such material that the Ministry of Finance was prepared to subsidize the SS experimental program. GR C3-C8 for your office, partly for a new research institute. An interview between the Reich Surgeon and Mentzel took place, and on 25 March Mentzel wrote the following letter to the Reich Minister of Finance:. Ang to which I gave you a preliminary communication on the 19th Feb, I finally take the following position:. Since it is established on a smaller scale for the enlarging of scientific research possibilities, they pertain therefore exclusively to such affairs that are carried out with the material Prisoners-'Haflinge' which is only accessible to the Waffen SS and are therefore not to be undertaken for any other experimental purposes.

Through its activities with respect to concentration camps the SS performed part of its mission to safeguard the security of the Nazi regime. But another specialized aspect of that mission must not be forgotten. Himmler had defined that task as the prevention of a "Jewish Bolshevist revolution of subhumans.

That program involved every branch and component of the SS. The racial philosophy of the SS made that organization a natural agency for the execution of all types of anti-Semitic measures. This was the SS position on the Jews:.

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The attempted "solution" of the Jewish question through pogroms and "spontaneous" demonstrations occurred following the murder of von Rath in November In these demonstrations all branches of the SS were called on to play a part. With the outbreak of the war and the march of Nazi armies over the Continent, the SS participated in "Solving" the Jewish question in all the countries of Europe.

The solution was nothing short of extermination. To a large degree these wholesale murders were disguised under the name of "antipartisan" or "antiguerilla" actions, and as such included as victims not merely Jews but Soviets, Poles, and other Eastern peoples. One example of an action confined essentially to Jews was the mass annihilation of Jews in gas vans PS. The "solution," which consisted in evacuation and extermination of all the Jews in Galicia and confiscation of their property, was carried out under the energetic direction of the SS and Police Leaders, with the assistance of SS police units, as the report proudly boasts.

Three additional items in that report dealing specifically with the SS should be noted. The first is the text under a photograph in the original report:. The second is a balance sheet, showing the income from forced Jewish labor and expenditures therefrom. Item 3 on the balance sheet reads as follows:. Two sections of that report dealing with the constitution of the participating forces should be noted. A table of the units used indicates the average number of officers and men from each unit employed per day. The part played by the Waffen SS particularly came in for high praise from the writer of the report.

In the next paragraph the writer says:. The selection methods and ideological education of Waffen SS men furnished such good grounding that a few weeks of practice was all that was required to turn them into excellent exterminators. Himmler's proud boast of the part that the SS played in the extermination of the Jews occurs in his Posen Speech:.

To have stuck it out and at the same time-apart from the exceptions caused by human weakness-to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard. From the very beginning the SS made prime contributions to the conspirators' aggressive aims. First, it served as one of the para-military organizations under which the conspirators disguised their building up of an army in violation of the Versailles Treaty. Second, through affiliated SS organizations in other countries and through some of the departments in its own Supreme Command, it fostered Fifth Column movements outside Germany and prepared the way for aggression.

Third, through its militarized units, it participated in the aggressive actions which were eventually carried out. The para-military character of the General SS is apparent from the military character of its structure, the military discipline required of its members, and the steps it took to enlist in its ranks young men of military age. In addition to this volunteer Army the SS created, as early as , fully armed professional soldiers who complied with the requirement for compulsory military service by performing duties in the SS.

While building up the SS as a military force within Germany, the conspirators also utilized it in other countries to lay the groundwork for aggression. During the seizure of Austria, the SS Standarte 89 was directly involved in the murder of Chancellor Dolfuss, and a memorial placque was erected in Vienna as a tribute to the SS men who participated in that murder l; PS. Subsequently, on the night of 11 March , the SS with the SA marched into Vienna and occupied all government buildings and important posts in the city.

The same pattern was repeated in Czechoslovakia. Henlein's Free Corps played in that country the part of fifth column which the SS had played in Austria and was rewarded, in September , by being placed under the jurisdiction of the Reichsfuehrer SS PS, Items 37, But SS preparations for aggression were not confined to military forces. One of the departments of the SS Supreme Command, the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, was a center for fifth column activity. When at last the time came to strike, the SS was ready. In the words of the National socialist yearbook for PS :.

This action ended with the founding of the protectorate Bohemia-Moravia. Again it was the SS, here above all the Eastern Prussian SS, which played a prominent part in the liberation of this province. In the final act which set off the war, the attack on Poland in September , the SS acted as stage manager. In his affidavit Affidavit A , Maj.

Hitler's Armies: A history of the German War Machine 1939-45 (General Military)

Erwin Lahousen describes the simulated attack on the radio station Gleiwitz by Germans dressed in Polish uniforms, as one of the most mysterious actions which took place in the Abwehr office:. Those prisoners were later murdered by the SD in order to eliminate any possibility of their giving testimony of the incident. During the war great use was made of the peculiar qualities possessed by the SS-qualities not only of its combat force, but of its other components as well-in executing tasks embracing the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. A directive issued by Keitel on 13 March , making preparations 3 months in advance for the attack on Russia, provided that in the area of operations the Reichsfuehrer SS was entrusted with special tasks for the preparation of the political administration-tasks which would result from the struggle about to commence between two opposing political systems.

One of the steps taken by the Reichsfuehrer SS to carry out those "special tasks" was the formation and use of so-called "antipartisan" units. They were discussed by Himmler in his Posen speech:. I considered it necessary for the Reichsfuehrer SS to be in authoritative command in all these battles, for I am convinced that we are best in position to take action against this enemy struggle, which is decidedly a political one. Except where units which had been supplied and which we had formed for this purpose were taken from us to fill in gaps at the front, we have been very successful. What the SS did with its division, corps, and army, out of which the antipartisan units were formed, is illustrated in the "Activity and Situation Report No.

The report shows that so-called "antipartisan" activity was actually nothing but a name for extermination of Jews and persons believed politically undesirable. The report is a carefully organized and detailed description of such extermination. Section I describes the stations of the various Task Forces involved, and section II their activities.

The latter section is divided into parts, each dealing with a different geographical region-the Baltic area, White Ruthenia, and the Ukraine. Under each area the report of activities is classified under three headings: a Partisan activity and counteraction; b arrests and executions of communists and officials; and c Jews.

The following units were involved R :. This action was under the direction of the task force of the Security Police and the SD. At the present time this action is still in progress. After completion of this action there will remain only Jewesses and children in the Eastern Territory. In the section headed "White Ruthenia," the subsection labeled "Partisan activity and counteraction," the following appear:. They were inmates of a children's home.

They had collected weapons which they hid in the woods. Upon search the following were found: 3 heavy machine guns, 15 rifles, several thousand rounds of ammunition, several hand grenades, and several packages of poison gas Ebrit. A special Commando in the period covered by this report executed 63 officials, NKVD agents and agitators. In Shitomir 3, Jews had to be shot, because from experience they have to be regarded as bearers of Bolshevik propaganda and saboteurs. The more detailed report of Task Force A up to 15 October shows great variety of SS components in such a task force:.

It shows further that the forces of the uniformed police and the Armed SS are active mainly in front of Leningrad, in order to take measures against the returning population and under their own officers. This is so much easier because the Action detachments in Lithouania, Latvia and Esthonia have at their disposal native police units, as described in encl. It should be mentioned that the leaders of the Armed-SS and of the uniformed police who are reserves have declared their wish to stay on with the Security Police and the SD.

Another report on the antipartisan activity, from the General Commissar for White Ruthenia to the Reich Minister for Occupied Eastern Territories, 5 June , deals with the results of the police operation "Cottbus":. If only rifles are taken from 4, enemy dead, this discrepancy shows that among these enemy dead were numerous peasants from the country. The battalion Dirlewanger especially has a reputation for destroying many human lives.

Among the 5, people suspected of belonging to bands, there were numerous women and children. SS Obergruppenfuehrer vom dem Bach was referred to by Himmler as "our comrade" when he placed him in charge of antipartisan activity. But these units were, of course, also used individually to carry out tasks of such a nature-tasks for which any component of the SS was well trained.

A letter from the Chief of the Command office of the Waffen SS to the Reichsfuehrer SS, 14 October , contains an intermediate report on civilian state of emergency:. It is not surprising that units of the Waffen SS, a branch which had thus been employed for extermination actions and the execution of civilians, also violated the laws of warfare when carrying on ordinary combat activities. The Court of Inquiry concluded that there occurred in Normandy, between 7 and 17 June , seven cases of violations of the law of war, involving the shooting of 64 unarmed allied prisoners of war in uniform, many of whom had been previously wounded, and none of whom had resisted or endeavored to escape; that the perpetrators were members of the 12th SS Panzer Division, the so-called Hitler Jugend Division; that enlisted men of the 15th Company of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment of that Division were given secret orders to the effect that SS troops should take no prisoners and that prisoners were to be executed after having been interrogated; that similar orders were given to men of the 3d Battalion of the 26th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment and to the 12th SS Engineering and Reconnaissance Battalions; and that the conclusion was irresistible that it was understood throughout the Division that a policy of denying quarter or executing prisoners after interrogation was openly approved.

Other combatants met a similar fate at the hands of other components of the SS. The execution of allied fliers, of commandos, and paratroopers, and of escaped prisoners of war who were turned over to the SD to be destroyed, is discussed in Section 6 on the Gestapo. Combatants who were taken prisoner of war encountered the SS in another form. Section 6 on the Gestapo discusses the selection, by SS groups stationed in prisoner of war camps, of prisoners for what the Nazis euphemistically called "special treatment.

The final phase of the conspiracy in which the SS played a leading role comprehended the colonization of conquered territories, the destruction of their national existence, and the permanent extension of the German frontier. These objectives were carried out through the forcible evacuation and resettlement of inhabitants of conquered regions, confiscation of their properties, "denationalization" and "reeducation" of persons of German blood, and the colonization of conquered territories by Germans. The SS was the logical agency to formulate and carry out the execution of this program. The numerous statements made by Himmler as to SS training for its role as the aristocracy in the "new Europe" leave that beyond doubt.

Himmler immediately proceeded to put these theories into practice upon his appointment on 7 October as Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Folkdom. To make and carry out plans for the program of evacuation and resettlement, a new department of the SS Supreme Command, the staff Headquarters of the Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Folkdom, was created. The colonization program had two principal objectives: the first phase was the destruction of the conquered peoples, by exterminating them, deporting them, and confiscating their property; the second phase was the bringing back of racial Germans to settle in the newly acquired land and to live from the wealth of those who had been eliminated.

The extermination actions contributed in part to clearing the conquered territories of persons deemed dangerous to the Nazi plan. But not every undesirable could be liquidated. Moreover, manpower was needed for the Nazi war effort. Mass deportation thus accomplished the twin purpose of providing labor and of freeing the land for German colonists. The participation of SS agencies in deporting persons from the conquered territories to meet the increased demands of the Nazi war machine for manpower has already been shown.

The evacuation and resettlement program, however, required the use of additional SS agencies to deport persons occupying the desired living space. For this purpose immigration centers were set up under the direction of RSHA, as is stated in the National socialist Yearbook for This office has the task of dealing with National German questions and the raising of required support. This affidavit, taken at Freising, Germany, on 4 August reads as follows:.

The executive power, in other words the carrying out of all so-called resettlement actions, that is to say, sending away of Polish and Jewish settlers and those of non German blood from a territory in Poland destined for Germanization, was in the hands of the Chief of the RSHA Heydrich and later Kaltenbrunner, since the end of The Chief of the RSHA also supervised and issued orders to the socalled immigration center EWZ which classified the Germans, living abroad who returned to Germany and directed them to the individual farms, already freed.

The latter was done in agreement with the chief office of the Reichsfuehrer SS. Other SS agencies also were included. The report, dated 22 May , relating to confiscation of Polish agricultural enterprises and deportation of the Polish owners to Germany, shows that the following SS agencies were involved in this action:. The extent to which departments of the Supreme Command of the SS were concerned with the evacuation program is shown by the minutes of a meeting on 4 August dealing with the treatment of deported Alsatians R The minutes list those present at the meeting as follows:.

The Gauleiter's plans for evacuation can be approved in principle, since they confine themselves in fact to a class of persons, whose presence in the Reich would be insupportable for racial and political reasons. The SS not only destroyed or deported conquered peoples and confiscated their property, but it also repopulated the conquered regions with so-called racial Germans. Thousands upon thousands of these Germans were transported from all parts of Europe to join the greater Reich. Not all Germans were deemed reliable colonists, however.

Those who were not, were returned to Germany proper for "re-Germanization" and "reeducation" along Nazi lines. A typical instance of the fate of such Germans is found in the decree of the Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Folkdom of 16 February , dealing with the treatment to be accorded so-called "Polonized" Germans R By the terms of that decree two other SS functionaries were charged with the responsibility for the re-Germanization program, the Higher SS and police Leaders and the Gestapo.

Paragraph III of the decree provides:. The Higher SS and Police Fuehrer will further the re-Germanization actions with every means at their disposal and continuously take stock of their success. In case they find that obstacles are put in the way of a re-Germanization action, they will report on their findings to the competent State Police Superior Office for appropriate measures.

Where it proves to be impossible to attain re-Germanization even by forcible measures taken by the State Police, they will apply for a revocation of the naturalization through the Reich Fuehrer SS, Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood and give notice to the competent State Police Superior Office.

In the course of fulfilling their duties imposed on them by this Decree the competent State Police Superior Offices will take in particular the following measures:". They will assist the Higher SS and Police Fuehrer in their task of re-Germanization, particularly in removing obstacles by forcible measures whenever there is opposition to re-Germanization. Before ordering forcible measures by the State Police they will give the Counsellor of the person in question an opportunity to state his opinion.

They will take into protective custody all persons, with regard to whom the Higher SS and Police Fuehrer has applied for revocation of their naturalization and will order their imprisonment in a Concentration Camp. In the final stage of the process, the resettlement of the conquered lands by racially and politically desirable Germans, still other SS agencies participated.

The National socialist Yearbook for states that:. This was especially guaranteed above all by the employment of SS leaders.


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The resettler is passed through 8 to 9 offices, following each other in organic order: registration office, card-index office, certificate and photo-office, property office, and biological hereditary and sanitary test office. The latter was entrusted to doctors and medical personnel of the SS and of the Armed Forces. In the course of its development from a group of strong armed bodyguards, some in number, to a complex organization participating in every field of Nazi endeavor, the SS found room for its members in high places.

Persons in high places moreover, found for themselves a position in the SS. Of the defendants charged in the indictment at least 7 were high ranking officers in the SS. With respect to the other six defendants, the facts as to their membership in the SS are to be found in two official publications. The first is the membership list of the SS as of 1 December On line 2, page 8, of that publication, there appears the name "Hass, Rudolf," followed by the notation, "By authority of the Fuehrer the Right to wear the uniform of an SS Obergruppenfuehrer. Kienast, Ministerial Director of the German Reichstag, an official handbook containing biographical data as to members of the Reichstag.

It is the prosecution's contention that the SS, as defined in Appendix B of the Indictment, was unlawful. Its participation in every phase of the conspiracy alleged in Count One is clear. As an organization founded on the principle that persons of "German blood" were a "master race," it exemplified a basic Nazi doctrine. It served as one of the means through which the conspirators acquired control of the German government.

The operations of the SD, and of the SS Totenkopf Verbaende in concentration camps, were means used by the conspirators to secure their regime and terrorize their opponents as alleged in Count One.

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All components of the SS were involved from the very beginning in the Nazi program of Jewish extermination. Through the Allgemeine SS as a para-military organization, the SS Verfuegungstruppe and SS Totenkopf Verbaende as professional combat forces, and the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle as a fifth column agency, it participated in preparations for aggressive war, and, through its militarized units, in the seizure of Austria, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the attack of Poland, and the waging of aggressive war in the West and in the East, as set forth in Counts One and Two of the Indictment.

In the course of such war, all components of the SS had a part in the war crimes and crimes against humanity, set forth in Counts Three and Four,-the murder and ill treatment of civilian populations in occupied territory, the murder and ill treatment of prisoners of war, and the Germanization of occupied territories.

The evidence has shown that the SS was a single enterprise- a unified organization. Some of its functions were, of course, performed by one branch or department or office, some by another. No single branch or department participated in every phase of its activity. The situation is much the same as in the case of the individual defendants at the bar Not all participated in every act of the conspiracy; but all performed a contributing part in the whole criminal scheme.

The evidence has shown, not only that the SS was an organization of volunteers but that applicants had to meet the strictest standards of selection. That was true of all branches of the SS. During the course of the war, as the demands for manpower increased and the losses of the Waffen SS grew heavier and heavier, there were occasions when men drafted for compulsory military service were assigned to units of the Waffen SS rather than to the Wehrmacht. Those instances were relatively few. Evidence of recruiting standards of the Waffen SS in has shown that membership in that branch was as essentially voluntary and highly selective as in other branches.

The fact that some individuals may have been arbitrarily assigned to some Waffen SS unit has no bearing on the issue before the tribunal, which is this, whether the SS was or was not an unlawful organization. Doubtless some of the members of the SS, or of other of the organizations alleged to be unlawful, might desire to show that their participation in the organization was small or innocuous, that compelling reasons drove them to apply for membership, that they were not fully conscious of its aims, or that they were mentally irresponsible when they became members.

Such facts might or might not be relevant if they were on trial. The question before this Tribunal is simply this, whether the SS was or was not an unlawful organization. The evidence has fully shown what the aims and activities of the SS were. Some of these aims were stated in publications. The activities were so widespread and so notorious, covering so many fields of unlawful endeavor, that the illegality of the organization could not have been concealed. It was a notorious fact, and Himmler himself admitted that in , when he said:.

We know the reason and we don't expect to be loved by too many. It was at all times the exclusive function and purpose of the SS to carry out the common objectives of the conspirators. Its activities in carrying out those functions involved the commission of the crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter. The USA series number, given in parentheses following the description of the document, is the official exhibit number assigned by the court.

USA III 5. III Strauss in Dachau by an SS guard. IV Rascher, 22 may , concerning use of prisoners for high-flight research. Rascher to Himmler, 15 May , asking for use of prisoners for experiments in high altitude flights. Rascher to Himmler, 17 February , concerning freezing experiments. Iv Rascher to Waffen-SS. Werner best. Voelkischer Beobachter, 26 July , p. V Frank and others on program for Sudeten agitation, 29 March Army officer concerning plaque erected in Austrian Chancellery in memoriam to killers of Dollfuss.

VI Gb VII L Excerpts from Berlin newspapers, April , concerning violence Against Jews and discrimination against politically undesirable professors VIII R Himmler decree, 1 December , concerning procedure for confiscation of works of arts, archives, and documents Affidavit A Affidavit of Erwin Lahousen, 21 January , substantially the same as his testimony on direct examination before the International Military Tribunal at Nurnberg 30 November and 1 December

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