Nuremberg Trials




Franz Six

Franz Six studied at the Realschule, graduated from the classical high school at Mannheim in 1930 and then matriculated at the University of Heidedlberg where he specialized in sociology and political science, receiving the degree of doctor of philosophy in 1934. He then taught at the University at Koenigsberg (where he also took up the position of Press Director of the German Students' Association). In 1936 he received the high academic degree of Dr. phil. habil. from the University of Heidelberg, and became Dozent in the faculty of law and political science at Koenigsberg; later, he passed examinations for the Venia Legendi at the University of Leipzig. By 1938 he was Professor at the University of Koenigsberg, and by 1939, he had obtained the chair for Foreign Political Science at the University of Berlin and was its first Dean of the faculty for Foreign Countries.

It is to be supposed that with this formidable array of scholastic achievements, duly enumerated by the defendant himself, the youth who came to him for guidance and instruction could expect in him a comparable degree of achievement in moral honesty. Unfortunately, this may not have been true, and therein is a tragedy of its own. A school teacher is bound in conscience to hold himself impeccable in deportment because of the example he constantly presents the future citizens of the State. The example afforded by Six left something to be desired. Reference will be made to the defendant's own words on the witness stand in support of this observation.

In the early part of his testimony, on October 29,1947, Six related to the Tribunal the tale of his student days at the University of Heidelberg. He said:

"I carried on my studies at Heidelberg for four years on an average of twenty marks a month. I needed eleven marks to live in an attic, and that left me nine marks to live on. Nine marks, that meant thirty pfennigs a day, at ten pfennigs for four rolls in the evening, and ten pfennigs for cigarettes, and this I lived through -- for four years in the midst of Heidelberg Student Romanticism, where the main


problems were welfare and donation and then I asked myself whether society was still healthy, if it finds so much complacency, and how it can reconcile this complacency with so much distress."

Then in his own words he solved the enigma: "The answer which I gave myself was joining the Nazi Party."

The fact of the matter was, however, as his own personnel record showed, he had become a Nazi in 1930, that is, even before he matriculated at the University of Heidelberg, so that whatever advantages, benefits and comforts derived from National Socialism were already due to him at Heidedlberg. Thus, by failing to tap the munificent resources which Nazism offered, while already a full-fledged Nazi, Six suffered needlessly during those four sad years at Heidelberg.

There is another illustration. Six declared he had no animosity toward Jews and advanced his respect for two certain Jewish university professors as proof of this assertion. He was then asked whether it disturbed him that these two Jews, because of their race, were persecuted. He replied that he regarded it as "highly unpleasant" that these people should have been "affected by the new laws and regulations". Whereupon the inquiry was made as to whether he was offended by the persecution of thousands and millions of the brothers and sisters of these two professors. He answered: "What do you mean by persecution? When did the persecution begin?" When this was explained to him he conceded that the burning down of the Jewish synagogues on November 9, 1938, was a "shame and a scandal". Counsel for the Prosecution now inquired if he regarded the Fuehrer-Order, which called for the physical extermination of all Jews, as a "shame and a scandal". Here he saw a difference. The synagogues had been burned down without an order and therefore the destruction was a "shame and a scandal". The Fuehrer-Order, however, to destroy human beings, issued from the Chief of State and consequently could not be a shame and a scandal. He later conceded that the execution of women and children was deplorable, but the killing of male Jews was proper because they were potential bearers of arms.


A great German scholar, Wilhelm von Humboldt, who founded the University of Berlin at which Six was professor and Dean, had, as far back as 1809, defined "the limits beyond which the activities of the State must not go". Obviously Six did not agree with the doctrine that there could be a limit to the activities of the State. The name of Adolf Hitler apparently threw a shade over the light of his learning, and thus, for him, there was nothing wrong, even mass killings, so long as the order therefor originated with the Fuehrer.

Six became a member of the SA in 1932 and of the SS and SD in 1935. In this last named organization he attained the grade of Brigadier General. On June 20, 1941 he was appointed Chief of Vorkommando Moscow. According to the defendant the task of this kommando was to secure the archives and files of Russian documents in Moscow when the German troops should arrive there. The defendant arrived in Smolensk on July 25, 1941 and remained there until the latter part of August when he returned to Berlin.

It is the contention of the prosecution that the defendant's duties were not as innocuous as made out by him. The prosecution submits that the Vorkommando Moscow was used in liquidating operations while under the command of Six. Further, that the seizing of documents in Russia was done not for economic and cultural purposes, but with the object of obtaining lists of Communist functionaries who had themselves become candidates for liquidation.

In support of its position, the Prosecution introduced Report No. 73, dated September 4, 1941, which carries on its final page the heading "Statistics of the Liquidations", and then enumerates various units of Einsatzgruppe B with the executions performed by each.

"The total figures of persons liquidated by the Einsatzgruppe as per 20 August 1941 were:

1.) Stab and Vorkommando 'Moskau'......144

2.) Vorkommando 7a.................................996

3.) Vorkommando 7b.................................886

4.) Einsatzkommando 8..........................6,842

5.) Einsatzkommando 9..........................8,096



The same report carries the item:

"The Vorkommando 'Moskau' was forced to execute another 46 persons, amongst them 38 intellectual Jews who had tried to create unrest and discontent in the newly established Ghetto of Smolensk."

Defense Counsel argues that the date of this report shows that Vorkommando Moscow could not have performed the executions mentioned therein. His argument is as follows: Assuming that the executions occurred August 20th, two days must have elapsed before the report left Smolensk. Allowing then two or three days more for evaluation of the events, the report, according to Dr. Ulmer, could only have left Smolensk on August 25th or 26th. A few days were needed for the transmission to Berlin and there, on September 4, 1941, it appeared as Operation Report No. 73. Dr. Ulmer then says:

"The report can therefore -- and that is essential -- only have been drawn up on 25 August 1941 at the earliest, i.e. on the sixth day after the defendant had left Smolensk."

But his argument is in direct conflict with the logic of chronology. No one questioned the correctness of the date of September 4th when the report was published in Berlin. Therefore, the longer the time required for the submission of the report to Berlin, the further back must be the happening of the events narrated therein, and thus the further back into the period when Six was incontrovertibly in Smolensk. The usual argument presented in matters of this kind has been that the delay between the event and the eventual publishing of the report was a longer one rather than a shorter one. In this case the date in the document itself indicates a delay of only 14 days. If Dr. Ulmer argues that the lapse of time was longer than 14 days, then the events in question occurred prior to August 20th when no one questions that Dr. Six was present in Smolensk.

The defendant denies having anything to do with Einsatzgruppe B, and specifically states that he never made any reports to Einsatzgruppe B. Report No. 34 declares, under the heading of Einsatzgruppe B:


"Smolensk, according to the report by Standartenfuehrer Dr. Six, is as thoroughly destroyed as Minsk....It was therefore not possible to have the entire Vorkommando follow to Smolensk."

Report No. 11, dated July 23, 1941 listed Vorkommando Moscow as one of the units of Einsatzguppe B. Furthermore, Six admitted having supplied Einsatzgruppe B with some of his interpreters.

The defendant has described himself as a "pure" scientist. His duties were so scientific that in April 1944 he made a speech in Krumhubel at a session of consultants on the Jewish question in which he was reported as follows:

"Ambassador Six speaks then about the political structures of World Jewry. The physical elimination of Eastern Jewry would deprive Jewry of its biological reserves..... The Jewish question must be solved not only in Germany but also internationally."

At this same session:

"Embassy counsellor v. Thadden speaks about the Jewish-political situation in Europe and about the state of the Anti-Jewish executive measures.....(As the details of the state of the executive measures in the various countries, reputed by the consultant, are to be kept secret, it has been decided not to enter them in the protocol.)"

Six admitted having been present and having addressed the meeting but denied making the remarks attributed to him.

Six claimed that Office VII of the RSHA, over which he was chief, had no special section devoted to the Jewish situation, but it developed that the organizational chart of the RSHA very clearly described Section VII-B-1 as dealing with Free Masonry and Jewry.

Six declared that he opened and protected the churches of Smolensk so that the population could worship, and then later stated that he protected these churches mainly for the reason that "there were archives there and valuable treasures".

When asked by Prosecution counsel if he had been promoted because of exceptional service with the Einsatzgruppe, he denied


that his promotion had anything to do with special merit, but the letter from Himmler specifically stated:

"I hereby promote you, effective 9 November 1941 to SS-Oberfuehrer for outstanding service in Einsatz.

Signed: H. Himmler"

(Emphasis supplied)

When asked about his succeeding promotion he said further that it was "quite unimaginable" that "special merits in the past should be mentioned" in the "promotion". Whereupon the Prosecution introduced the following document:

"Memorandum: The Reich Main Security Office requests the promotion of SS-Oberfuehrer Dr. Six to Brigadefuehrer, effective 31 January 1945.....SIPO Einsatz; 22 June 1941---28 August 1941, East Einsatz....on 9 November 1941, Six was promoted by the RF-SS to SS-Oberfuehrer for outstanding service in Security Police Einsatz in the East."

Six testified that he tried to be discharged from the SD and the SS prior to 1939, but it is incongruous to say the least that one who joins the Nazi Party voluntarily because he believes it to be the salvation of Germany, joins the SA voluntarily, becomes a brigadier general in the SS, and joins the SD voluntarily, should seek to leave it when Germany was riding the crest of the high wave running toward ever continuing and ever more glorious victories and triumphs.

Despite the finding that Vorkommando Moscow formed part of Einsatzgruppe B and despite the finding that Six was aware of the criminal purposes of Einsatzgruppe B, the Tribunal cannot conclude with scientific certitude that Six took an active part in the murder program of that organization. It is evident, however, that Six formed part of an organization engaged in atrocities, offenses and inhumane acts against civilian populations. The Tribunal finds the defendant guilty under Counts I and II of the Indictment.

The Tribunal also finds that the defendant was a member of the criminal organizations SS and SD under the conditions defined in the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal and is, therefore, guilty under Count III of the Indictment.


Musmanno, Michael A., U.S.N.R, Military Tribunal II, Case 9: Opinion and Judgment of the Tribunal. Nuremberg: Palace of Justice. 8 April 1948. pp. 146 - 151 (original mimeographed copy)

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Ken Lewis
April 12, 1998
Rev. 1.1