Goering: The SA, The Hitler Putsch
1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 82 of the proceedings, defendant Hermann Goering is given vast latitude by the Tribunal to tell his life story. He will be at it for the next few days. No other defendant will be given so much virtually uninterrupted time.
Goering: The tasks arose from my position, which at that time had the title "Commander of the SA." At first it was important to weld the SA into a stable organization, to discipline it, and to make of it a completely reliable unit which had to carry out the orders which Adolf Hitler or I should give it. Up to that point it had been just a club which had been very active, but which still lacked the necessary construction and discipline. I strove from the beginning to bring into the SA those members of the Party who were young and idealistic enough to devote their free the and their entire energies to it.
For at that time things were very difficult for these good men. We were very small in number and our opponents were far more numerous. Even in those days these men were exposed to very considerable annoyances and had to suffer all sorts of things. In the second place I tried to find recruits among workmen, for I knew that among workmen particularly I should enroll many members for the SA.
At the same time we had naturally to see to it that the meetings of the Party, which generally were limited at that time to Munich, Upper Bavaria and Franconia, could actually be carried through in a satisfactory manner, and disturbances prevented. In most cases we succeeded. But sometimes we had a strong party of our opponents present. One side or the other still had weapons from the war and sometimes-critical situations arose, and in some cases we had to send the SA as reinforcements to other localities. In the course of the year 1923 the contrast between Bavaria and the Reich became even stronger. One could see that the Bavarian Government of that time wanted to go a different way to that of the Reich Government. The Reich Government was influenced strongly by Marxism, but the Bavarian Government was free from that, it was bourgeois.
Then suddenly the Bavarian Government was completely transformed when a governor general--I believe he was called that--or something of the sort, was appointed for Bavaria. It was von Kahr, to whom the Bavarian Government was subordinate and to whom the Bavarian Government delegated all authority. Shortly after that the Reichswehr conflict developed. The 7th Reichswehr Division, which was stationed in Bavaria, was released from its oath to the Reich, which it had sworn to the Reich Constitution--I do not know its name any longer--that is to von Kahr. This led to the conflict of the Generals von Seeckt and Lossow. The same thing happened with the Bavarian police. The Bavarian Government at the same time curried favor with the so-called national associations which were in part organized along military or semi-military lines and also possessed weapons. The whole thing was directed against Berlin and, as we expressed it, against the "November Republic." We could agree up to that point.
On the Sunday, before the 9th of November, there was a large parade in Munich. The whole Bavarian Government was there. The Reichswehr, the police and the fatherland associations, and we too, marched past. Suddenly, on that occasion, we saw that the figure in the foreground was no longer Herr von Kahr but the Bavarian Crown Prince Rupprecht. We were very much taken aback by that.
The suspicion arose among us that Bavaria wished to follow a course which would possibly lead to a considerable disintegration, and Bavaria might secede from the body of the Reich. But nothing was farther from our intentions than to permit that. We wanted a strong Reich, a unified Reich; and we wanted to have it cleansed of certain parties and authorities which were now ruling it.
We had become distrustful of the so-called "March on Berlin." When this became a certainty and Herr von Kahr had called the well-known meeting in the Burgerbraukeller, it was high time to frustrate such plans and to guide the whole undertaking in the direction of the "Greater Germany" idea. Thus the events of 9 November 1923 materialized in very short time.
But as far as I personally am concerned, I was--and I never made a secret of this--ready from the beginning to take part in every revolution against the so-called November Republic, no matter where and with whom it originated, unless it originated with the Left, and for these tasks I had always offered my services. Then I was severely wounded at the Feldherrnhalle--the events are well known--and with this incident I close this first chapter.
Dr. Stahmer: When, after that time, did you come together with Hitler again?
Dr. Stahmer: One question. Had you meanwhile joined the SA?
Dr. Stahmer: Was it prohibited after 1923?
1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 84 of the proceedings, Hermann Goering is examined by defense counsel.
The President: Dr. Boehm, the Tribunal considers that this is all cumulative to what the defendant has already said in his examination in chief. He has given us a long account of the SA in his examination in chief. He has added nothing in the course of what he is now saying.
Goering: This question is extremely difficult to answer. If I made a speech to my SA men in 1923 I could not very well say much about diplomacy. They would not have understood that. Rather the question was quite simply to be rid of Versailles. The ordinary SA man was not at all concerned with the "how" or the "what." That is the task of the leadership. I did not say, "I promise that you will never have war"; or that we were only a purely pacific organization and that we should try by protests only to rid the world of Versailles. But neither did I say to them, "In the next few years we will march out and make war." In reality I did not tell them anything. I said that they would have to be obedient and have confidence in the leadership, and leave what was to be done to the leadership--that that was proper, and a basic attitude--every SA man knew that from our speeches and from the Party program. Among all the people the wish was--of every decent German, I hope--to be rid of Versailles.
Herr Boehm: According to your knowledge, and apart from the period of 1923, from 1921 to 1945, was the SA and also the organ of the SA, that is, the leadership of the SA as well as the individual member, informed that the NSDAP intended after the seizure of power to dominate other states and to make war with that purpose in mind, even in disregard of the rules of war and the laws of humanity if need be?
Goering: No, it is not to be understood that way. At all times the police intervened against excesses by individual SA men, as far as I remember. A number of SA men were even convicted.
Herr Boehm: According to my information, as well as information I personally received from SA Gruppenfuehrer and Obergruppenfuehrer, and other information which I obtained myself through reading, the Feldherrnhalle was not armed until it passed into the Air Force. Is that correct?
Caution: As always, these excerpts from trial testimony should not necessarily be mistaken for fact. It should be kept in mind that they are the sometimes-desperate statements of hard-pressed defendants seeking to avoid culpability and shift responsibility from charges that, should they be found guilty, can possibly be punishable by death.
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