SS-Colonel Werner Braune received his law degree at the University of Jena in July 1932 and in 1933 was awarded the degree of Doctor of Juridical Science. He joined the SS in November 1934. In l940 he became chief of the Gestapo in Wesermuende. In October l941 he was assigned to Einsatzkommando 11b. As chief of this unit Braune knew of the Fuehrer-Order and executed it to the hilt. His defense is the general one of Superior Orders which avails Braune no more than it does anyone else who executes a criminal order with the zeal that Braune brought to the Fuehrer-Order. Various reports implicate Braune and his kommando in the sordid business of illegal killings.
The Tribunal has already spoken of the Christmas massacre of Simferopol. Braune was the kommando leader in charge of this operation. He has admitted responsibility for this murder in unequivocal language:
"It took place under my responsibility. Once I was at the place of execution with Mr. Ohlendorf and there we convinced ourselves that the execution took place according to the directives laid down by Ohlendorf at the beginning of the assignment. I personally was there several times more and I supervised.... Furthermore, my sub-kommando leader Sturmbannfuehrer Schulz was always present, the company commander of the police company, and, I think, another Captain."
The Fuehrer-Order did not offer reasons or ask for explanations. Like a guillotine blade in its descent it did not stop to inquire into cause and premise. Nonetheless, the question was put to Braune as to why the Army, which apparently had immediately ordered this execution, was so anxious that the slaughter be accomplished before Christmas. Braune enlightened the Tribunal and simultaneously horrified humanity for all time as follows:
"The Fuehrer-Order was there, and now the Arny said 'We want it finished before Christmas'. I wasn't able at the time to find out all the reasons. Maybe the reasons were strategic reasons, military reasons, which caused the Army to issue that order. Maybe they were territorial questions. Maybe they were questions of food. The Army, at that time, was afraid that hundreds of thousands of people might have to starve to death during that winter because of the food situation. ...."There were also executions after Christmas. Einsatz-Order, dated January 12, 1942, speaks of an operation destined--
".....to apprehend unreliable elements (partisans, saboteurs, possibly enemy troops, parachutists in civilian clothes, Jews, leading Communists, etc.)."Braune admitted that he took an active part in this operation. He was asked what happened to the Jews who fell into the dragnet which he had spread, and Braune replied:
"lf there were any Jews, Mr. Prosecutor, they were shot, just as the other Jews."The question was then put if the Jews were given a trial, and the defendant replied:
"Mr. Prosecutor, I believe that it has been made adequately clear here that under the order which has been issued there was no scope to hold trials of Jews."Document NOKW-584, describing the executions mentioned in that document carried this significant item:
"SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Braune gave orders on the place of execution for the carrying out of the shooting."Although Braune denies that he actually gave the order to fire he does admit that he marched with the condemned men to the place of execution.
Speaking of the Ewapatoria action the defendant explained that he was convinced that "the whole lot of them had engaged in illegal activities", but he admitted that there was the possibility, theoretically, as he described, that among these 1,184 executees --
"There were some people who had not participated in murdering the German soldiers or who had not participated in sniping activities."
The Tribunal finds from all the evidence in the case that the defendant is guilty under Counts I and II of the Indictment.
The Tribuinal also finds that the defendant was a member of the criminal organizations SS, SD and Gestapo under the conditions defined by the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal and is, therefore, guilty under Count III of the Indictment.