Dimitrov vs. Göbbels


From the Verbatim Report of the Court November 4, 1933

Interrogation of witness Goering


Dimitrov: Count Helldorf 1) here testified to the effect that on February 27 at about 11 p. m. on his own initiative he gave orders for the arrest of the Communist and Social-Democratic leaders and functionaries. I now ask the Prime Minister: did Count Helldorf discuss then this measure with Mr. Goering, or not?

Goering: As a matter of fact an answer to this question has already been given. When Count Helldorf heard about the fire, he realized, as well as every one of us, that it must have been the work of the Communist Party. He had already given orders to his closest assistants. But I wish to stress once more: I, of course, called him to my room and told him that now I had to ask him to put his SA 2) troops at our disposal, to which he replied that he had already given partial instruction to that effect. I thus assumed the responsibility for the orders which he had given, but which had not yet come into effect, and once again backed him with the authority of the state.

Dimitrov: I would like to know only whether between 11 and 12 o'clock a personal conference was held between Count Helldorf and Prime Minister Goering.

Goering: You have just heard it: he was with me 3).

Dimitrov: The deputies of the National Socialist Party to the Reichstag, Mr. Karwahne and Mr. Frey, testified here that at about 11o'clock they were in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, and informed it that both of them and the Austrian National Socialist Kroyer had seen Torgler with van der Lubbe on thee day of the fire. Did these Reichstag deputies speak at that time to the Prime Minister, Mr. Goering?

Goering: No.

Dimitrov: Did the Prime Minister know that Mr. Karwahne and M. Frev had made this report?

Goering: On the day after the fire I learned about their report.

Dimitrov: Was it in the morning or still during the night?

Goering: In the morning, or maybe in the afternoon.

Dimitrov: So it was either in the morning or in the afternoon.

Goering: When that report was made to me can be established by interrogating Ministerial Counsellor Diehls4)!

Dimitrov: I should like to have it established exactly, because Karwahne categorically answered my question that he made the report after midnight, immediately after the fire.

Goering: The three of them gave their information at the Ministry before officials and not before me. I may not know that. It may have been during the night or in the morning: I cannot recall when I was told about it.

Dimitrov: On February 28 Prime Minister Goering gave an interview on the Reichstag fire, in which it was said: at the arrest of the 'Dutch Communist' van der Lubbe, besides his passport, his Party membership card was seized. How did the Prime Minister Goering know then that van der Lubbe had a Party membership card on him?

Goering: I must say that so far I have not been so much interested in the present trial, i.e. I did not read all the reports. I only heard from time to time that you (to Dimitrov) were a particularly clever man. That is why I supposed that the question which you asked has long been clear to you, namely that I never occupied myself with the investigation of this matter. I do not run about or search the pockets of people. If this (to Dimitrov) should still be unknown to you, let me tell you: the police examines all great criminals and informs me of its findings.

Dimitrov: The three officials of the criminal police who arrested and first interrogated van der Lubbe unanimously declared that no membership card was found on Lubbe. From where has the information about the card come then, I should like to know?

Goering: I can tell you that with absolute exactitude. This report was officially made to me. If on that first night they reported things which perhaps could not be checked so quickly, if before an official, perhaps on the basis of the depositions, it was mentioned that Lubbe had a membership card on him and if that could not be checked, they probably assumed it to be a fact and, of course, let me know it. I gave this information on the following day before noon when they had not yet definitely concluded the examination. This is of no significance in itself, because here, at the trial, it seems to have been established that van der Lubbe had no mrmbership card.

Dimitrov: the witness is Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior and President of the Reichstag, so does the Minister bear responsibility for his police?

Goering: Yes!

Dimitrov: I ask: What did the Minister of the Interior do on February 28 and 29 or during the following days in order to establish through a police investigation van der Lubbe's moves frorn Berlin to Hennigsdorf, his stay at the Hermigslorf asylum, his getting acquainted there with two other persons, so as to discover in this way his real accomplices? What did your police do?

Goering: As Minister I, of course, did not go after the traces like a detective, for I have my police for this job.

Dimitrov: After you, as Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, had declared that the incendiaries were Communists, that the German Communist Party had committed the crime with the aid of van der Lubbe as a foreign Communist, did this declaration on your part not serve to direct the police inquiry and afterwards - the Court investigations in a certain direction, excluding the possibility of looking for other ways and means of finding the true incendiaries of the Reichstag?

Goering: First of all, the law prescribes to the criminal police to make its investigations in all criminal cases along all lines, regardless of where they may lead to, and wherever there are traces. However, I personally am not an official of the criminal police but a responsible Minister, and that is why it was not so important for me to find the particular petty criminal, but the Party, the outlook on life which was responsible for it all. The criminal police will investigate all traces, be sure of it. I had only to establish: was this a crime beyond the political sphere or was it political in character. For me it was a political crime and I was also convinced that the criminals had to be looked for in your (to Dimitrov) Party (Shakes his fists at Dimitrov and shouts). Your Party is a Party of criminals, which must be destroyed! And if the hearing of the Court has been influenced in this sense, it has set out on the right track.

Dimitrov: Is it known to the Prime Minister that the Party, which 'has to be destroyed,' rules over one sixth of the globe, namely in the Soviet Union, and that this Soviet Union maintains diplomatic, political and economic relations with Germany and that hundreds of thousands of German workers benefit from its economic orders?

President (to Dimitrov): I forbid you to make Communist propaganda here.

Dimitrov: Mr. Goering is making National Socialist propaganda here! (After that he turns to Goering). This Communist outlook on life prevails in the Soviet Union, the largest and best country in the world, and here, in Germany, it has millions of followers among the best sons of the German people. Is this known...

Goering (yelling loudly): I shall tell you what is known to the German people. the German people know that here you are behaving insolently, that you have come here to set fire to the Reichstag. But I am not here to allow you to question me like a judge and to reprimand me! In my eyes you are a scoundrel who should be hanged.

President: Dimitrov, I have already told you not to make here Communist propaganda. That is why you should not be surprised if the witness is so agitated! I most strictly forbid this propaganda! You can only ask questions referring to the trial.

Dimitrov: I am highly pleased with the reply of the Prime Minister.

President: Whether you are pleased or not is quite immaterial. Now I deprive you of the right to speak.

Dimitrov: I wish to put one more question pertaining to the trial.

President (still more abruptly): Now I deprive you of the right to speak.

Goering (yelling): Go out, scoundrel!

President (to the policemen): Take him out!

Dimitrov (whom the policemen have already seized): You are probably afraid of my questions, Mr. Prime Minister?

Goering (shouting after Dimitrov): Be careful, look out, I shall teach you how to behave, only come out of the courtroom! Scoundrel!


1) Count Helldorf - leader of the Berlin Storm Troopers, police president of Berlin

2) To consolidate the fascist dictatorship and prepare Germany for war a terrorist apparatus was set up, in which the storm troops (SA) played a key role up to the middle of 1934. Later its fighting battalions (SS) assumed this role. The Gestapo (Secret Police) and the State Security was also subordinated to the supreme command of the SS. The leading Nucleus of the Nazi party also formed part of this terrorist apparatus.

3) In his depositions made under oath before the Court, Helldorf denied this meeting with Goering.

4) Chief of the Gestapo at that time.