nuremberg military tribunal




Woldemar Klingelhoefer

SS-Major Woldemar Klingelhoefer attended school in Kassel, served in the Army from June to December 1918 and after the war studied music and voice. He gave concerts throughout Germany and he became an opera singer. In 1937 he took over Department Culture, SIII/C in Kassel. In 1941 he was assigned to Einsatzgruppe B as an interpreter. This Einsatzgruppe, already by November 1941, according to Report 133, had killed 45,467 persons. This score was considerably increased later.

It is not contended by the Prosecution nor does the evidence at all indicate that Klingelhoefer could be charged with all these executions simply because he belonged to Einsatzgruppe B, which, of course, consisted of several kommandos. The reference to the larger unit is made only because the defendant has told of various transfers within the Einsatzgruppe. He said that he was in Sonderkommando 7b from June 22, 1941 to July 10, 1941, and then entered Vorkommando Moscow. In October he took over an independent command of this unit and held it until he went on leave. On his return to Russia on December 20, 1941 he entered the Group Staff of Einsatzgruppe B where he remained until December 1943. There are scores of reports covering the activity of these various units and it is unnecessary to trace Klingelhoefer in and out of these individual units specifying the exact number of persons killed by the units during the time he was with that particular organization.

Report No. 92 shows that Vorkommando Moscow killed over 100 persons as of September 13, 1941 and Klingelhoefer admits he was in charge of that unit during August and September 1941.

Report No. 108 declares that by September 28, 1941 the Vorkommando Moscow and the Group Staff of Einsatzgruppe B had killed 2,029 persons. Between August 20 and September 28, 1941 the Vorkommando and the Group Staff executed 1,885 people. Klingelhoefer admitted that he was in charge of Vorkommando Moscow during that time.

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By October 26, Vorkommando Moscow and the Group Staff had executed 2,457 persons and, whereas Klingelhoefer can not be charged with the entire number of 572 persons killed between September 28 and October 26, 1941, he can not escape responsibility for some part of these killings since in this period he commanded part of Vorkommando Moscow.

Klingelhoefer has not only described in detail executions he witnessed showing thereby the greatest familiarity with the macabre techniques involved but in his pre-trial affidavit he related how he shot 30 Jews because they had left the Ghetto without permission. He did this, he said, under orders from the chief of the Einsatzgruppe, Nebe, who ordered him "to establish an example." At the trial he gave a different explanation of this episode which, however, establishes even a clearer case of guilt. He said that three women had contacted some partisans and, returning to the town, had talked to the thirty Jews in their homes. This, according to the defendant, made them guilty of partisan action and he had them shot. He, of course, also shot the three women. He did, however, accord them a special consideration. He had them blindfolded for the execution and then ordered that they be given a separate grave.

Klingelhoefer has stated that his function in the Einsatzgruppe operation was only that of interpreter. Even if this were true it would not exonerate him from guilt because in locating, evaluating and turning over lists of Communist party functionaries to the executive department of his organization he was aware that the people listed would be executed when found. In this function, therefore, he served as an accessory to the crime.

"Q. I asked you, witness, didn't you know that when you were giving him these lists of Communist party functionaries that he was going to exterminate all those he could? You either knew it or you didn't know it.

A. Of course, I did."

But the evidence is clear that Klingelhoefer was no mere interpreter in the grim business of the Einsatzgruppe. He was

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active leader and commander. He knew what the einsatz units were doing to the Jews.

"Q. You told us you knew that if he stayed in the ghetto he was killed. Now, if he left the ghetto, was he then set free?

A. If he left the ghetto, he violated the directives which were given.

Q. So that he was killed anyway?

A. Then he had to be executed, yes."

In his own affidavit the defendant stated:

" While I was assigned by Nebe to the leadership of the Vorkommando Moscow, Nebe ordered me to go from Smolensk to Tatarsk and Mistislawl to get furs for the German troops and to liquidate part of the Jews there. The Jews had already been arrested by the order of Hauptsturmfuehrer Egon Noack. The executions proper were carried out by Noack under my supervision. (Emphasis supplied)

Although the defendant stated several times during his interrogation on the witness stand that he was morally opposed to the Fuehrer-Order, it is evident from all the testimony in the case that he went along quite willingly with it.

Before leaving the witness stand he stated that he would have been happy for Hitler to win the war even at the expense of its present condition with two million Germans killed, the nation in utter ruins and all of Europe devastated. This statement has no bearing, of course, on the question of his guilt under Counts I and II, but it is helpful in determining the state of mind as to whether he obeyed the so-called Superior Orders with a full heart or not.

The Tribunal finds from all the evidence that the defendant accepted the without reservation and that he executed it without truce. 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 conditions defined by the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal and is therefore guilty under count III of the Indictment.

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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. 204 - 206 (original mimeographed copy)

Profile of Waldemar Klingelhoefer

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Ken Lewis
June 7, 1998
Rev. 1.1