Report No. : PWIS (H) /LDC /775-SC-wb                                     17 August 1945

 

The following statement has been

written by SS Gruppenfuehrer H.

J.H. Behrends, at the request of

interrogating Offrs at LDC, and

it is thought to correspond with

the truth. The original is kept

at LDC (of PWIS (H) /LDC / 773)

=========================

 

POLITICAL LIFE STORY OF SS GRUPPENFUEHRER (REGIERUNGS RAT) D.L. HERMANN JOHANN HEINRICH BEHRENDS, born on 11 May 1907 in WILHELMSHAVEN. ===============================================================

Until 1932 no political activity. Entered NSDAP and SS in Feb 32. Reason: Internal political development at that time demanded a decision for KPD or NSDAP as the other political parties had lost their vitality.[1] I joined the SS as it was supposed to demand the highest standard in character and decency.

 

Until end 1933 I finished my professional training and was employed by the urban council of RUESTRINGEN (in the part of WILHELMSHAVEN belonging to the county of OLDENBURG). In the beginning of 1934 I was transferred to the SD.[2] At first I was given the task of forming the SD administration in BERLIN, and in particular to recruit men of good character for an Intelligence Service. The object was to put the state administration in a position, to recognise defects and to institute improvements. At the beginning of 1935 I took a few months leave from my work in order to sit for my second Law examination.

 

At the end of 1935 I was transferred to the SD Hauptamt with the task to evaluate the material that had been confiscated in the meantime (mainly all documents concerning the KPD). At the time, a tendency could be observed in SD circles for fusion with the Gestapo (which, in fact, happened later) and for a deviation from the principle of honorary collaboration with men of good character (see above) in favour of a more bureaucratic organization. I opposed this. As my opinion did not obtain, I asked for dismissal from the SD and for return to my home. This was at first not granted. At the end of 1936 I left the SD and entered the ‘Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle.’ Until that time, I was a Civil Servant on the establishment and pay of the Ministry of the Interior, but also received an expense-allowance from the SD (at first as Regierungsassessor, later as Regierungsrat). Later, I signed a contract with ‘Vomi’, which ran until the end of the war and I was paid by ‘Vomi’ as well. On my own request I was given leave without pay from my Civil Service position, so that my separation from the SD was complete. As far as the SS establishment was concerned, my records were kept, purely as a matter of form, by the SD Hauptamt, until the ‘Vomi’ established its own personnel records Office.

 

From beginning 1937 until Mar 1943 I was Stabsfuehrer (I.e. Offr i/c ops) with ‘Vomi’ with the task of furthering the welfare of racial-Germans and their voluntary settlement and billeting in training Camps. I also conducted all negotiations regarding the settlement contracts with Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Rumania and USSR. At first I conducted these negotiations on my own responsibility on behalf of ‘Vomi’. Later, following HIMMLER’s machinations, I was subordinate to him.[3]

 

Divergent opinions in purely business matters, such as settlement and selection of settlers, led to differences with HIMMLER. In consequence, ‘Vomi’ was kept out of all questions regarding settlement and restricted its operation to assist immigrants from foreign countries and to welfare work until their arrival in camps. At the same time I acted as deputy to SS Ogruf LORENZ in the “Vereinigung zwischenstaatlicher Verbaende’ (Association of inter-national organizations) with the aim of fostering friendly relations with members of other countries (German-English; German-Italian; German-French; German-Jugoslavian; German-Dutch etc. Associations).[4] This work was reduced to a minimum in consequence of the war. I also worked in the ‘Academy of German Law’, a Board concerned with the rights of Nationals and with the task of drafting fair minority-rights in collaboration with other countries. (Became impossible as a consequence of the war.)

 

I was a member of the ‘Reichsbund for Leibesuebungen’ (National Association for the Furtherance of Physical Training) and used to fence and swim.

 

On account of the divergencies, formal as well as personal, in my work for Nationalism, I tried to look round for some other professional activity. HIMMLER looked upon this as personal ambition.[5] Somebody, without me having asked for it, suggested my name as HSSuPf VIENNA and this led to a letter by HIMMLER to KALTENBRUNNER and LORENZ, the content of which was: ‘My capacity for the highest posts in the state are recognized, but I would not advance as long as he (i.e. HIMMLER) was alive’.[6] This letter reached me through Ogruf LORENZ. As a personal discussion had been impossible for many years, I sent a letter to HIMMLER. This letter was not accepted and returned to me unopened. A request for a personal interview was not granted either. In view of the events in the war (STALINGRAD) I reserved my personal decision until the end of the war and put up the following conditions: Immediate call-up into the armed forces and resignation from the SS at the end of the war. This request was sent to HIMMLER through Bdefue KRANEFUSS.[7] After HIMMLER had granted it, I returned to the Waffen-SS in Mar 43. I had been there for the first time in Mar 40 until Jun 40. I entered with the rank of Uffz, to which I had been promoted in the Navy.[8] From Mar 43 until April 44 I served in the Pz Ers Regt BITSCH, the Pz Tps Schule WUENSDORF, the SS Pz Gren Div ‘Goetz von Berlichingen’, the SS Mountain Div ‘Prinz Eugen’ and the SS Div ‘Handzar’. I was promoted until I reached the rank of Stubaf d.R.[9]

 

At the end of Apr 44 I was released from the Waffen-SS and received a new task: HSSuPf Serbia, with the object of gradually reducing the Police forces, in view of the war and of forming a new administration in the Serbian BANAT, with the collaboration of all minorities. This latter object had been suggested by myself. I requested HIMMLER to leave me with the armed forces as I had a personal aversion against the profession as HSSuPf, but he refused. However, he agreed to the promotion being for the duration only, and that my appointment as Genmajor d Pol (later Genlt d Pol) was to titular only. I was not put on the Police establishment. During my stay in Serbia I occupied myself mainly with the return of refugees. I continued my activities, after BELGRADE had been evacuated, from FUENFKIRCHEN (PECS) in Hungary. The introduction of the new administration in the Serbian BANAT became impossible through the invasion by the Russians.

 

My next job was HSSuPf in KURLAND (West Latvia), without being appointed as such.[10] My activities in KURLAND were short. I pointed out mistakes which the German Administration in the East had committed. I was consequently given permission to dissolve all German administrative establishments and to form small military Security Services. For two months I enjoyed this work in collaboration with the ‘National Committee Latvia’ (Latvian provisional Government), which, out of gratitude, declared itself ready to put in a word for me with the British Aithotities. At the end of Mar 45 I had to make a verbal report in BERLIN. My return to KURLAND was a technical impossibility and would have served no purpose either, as the Latvian President was at LUEBECK.[11]

 

After I had completed that job I asked for dismissal and to be allowed to resign the title of Genlt d Pol, which was granted. Until the end of the war, I helped to settle the outstanding affairs of ‘Vomi’.

 

My presence in FLENSBURG had the following reasons:-

1. The staff of ‘Vomi’ was being dissolved there.

2. I had communicated with my family and asked them, to go into the FLENSBURG area, in case they had to flee, because I had arranged with my wife, for me to settle as a lawyer in FLENSBURG after the war. We came to this agreement after HIMMLER had refused to appoint me mayor of WILHELMSHAVEN. However, I did not meet my family, as they went with a refugee-transport into a Camp in Denmark.

 

I remained in FLENSBURG, having officially registered with the Police, until my internment on 5.Jul 45. I reported to the British Authorities on my own account, as I was informed that they were looking for me.

 

London District Cage,

14 Aug 45

 

Distribution

M.I. 19            10 (1 for PWIS (H) file)

J.A.G.              3            P.W. 2             1

A.G. 3 (VW)   3            P.I.D.               1

File                  2



[1] KPD = Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (German Communist Party); NSDAP = Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party or the Nazi Party).

[2] SD = Sicherheitsdienst (SS Security Service) headed by SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942). Heydrich died on 4 June 1942 in Prague as a result of injuries sustained in an assassination attempt by British-trained Czech agents on 27 May 1942.

 

[3] One of the most powerful and feared men in the Third Reich, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945) was head of the SS and Chief of the German Police. Among other positions, he further consolidated his power base through his appointments as Reich Minister of the Interior and Commander of the Replacement Army. On 23 May 1945, he committed suicide by biting a cyanide capsule while being interrogated by the British at Lüneburg shortly after his detention.

 

[4] SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS und Polizei Werner Lorenz (1891-1974) served as Chief of the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (Racial German Main Assistance Office) from January 1937-February 1945.

[5] In his book Himmler’s Auxiliaries: The Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle and the German National Minorities of Europe, 1933-1945 (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1993), Valdis O. Lumans notes (page 51): “In December 1942…Himmler urged Lorenz to curb Behrends’s ambitions for his own good. Behrends…defended himself as an SS man who placed duty ahead of any personal ambition.”

[6] HSSuPf = Höhere SS- und Polizeiführer (Higher SS and Police Leader). SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS und Polizei Dr. jur. Ernst Kaltenbrunner (1903-1946) served as the Austrian State Secretary for Security and then Leader of the SS-Oberabschnitt (Main District) “Donau” headquartered in Vienna. On 31 January 1943, he was appointed Chief of the Reich Central Security Main Office (RSHA) and held this post until the end of the war. He was tried by the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg and found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Kaltenbrunner was sentenced to death and hanged on 16 October 1946.

 

[7] SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Kranefuß was a member of Himmler’s personal staff. He also served as the Secretary of Himmler’s Freundeskreis (Circle of Friends), an association of wealthy German businessmen and industrialists who contributed funds to the SS to support its various business and economic ventures.

 

[8] Uffz = SS-Untersturmführer. In 1936, Behrends underwent anti-aircraft artillery training at the Navy Coastal Artillery School at Wilhelmshaven, which probably accounts for his reference to the Navy.

 

[9] These Waffen-SS divisions underwent several changes in designation during their existence. Their final wartime designations were as follows: 17.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division “Götz von Berlichgen”; 7.SS-Freiwilligen-Gebrigs-Division “Prinz Eugen”; 13.Waffen-Gebrigs-Division der SS “Handschar” (kroatische Nr.1). Although Behrends’s SS Dienstlaufbahn (service record) fails to make mention of the “Götz von Berlichgen” Division, it does indicate he briefly served in what ultimately evolved into the 10.SS-Panzer-Division “Frundsberg.” Additionally, his Dienstlaufbahn does not include a reference for the “Prinz Eugen” Division. However several other sources, including anecdotal family evidence, clearly indicate he served in this division, most likely in late-1943.

 

[10] The full title of Behrends’s duty position was Higher SS and Police Leader “Ostland und Rußland-Nord” (Baltic States and North Russia). He was appointed to this post as a substitute for SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei Friedrich Jeckeln who was then on duty with the Waffen-SS.

 

[11] Rudolfs Bangerskis (1878-1958) served as the President of the Latvian National Committee from February 1945 until his arrest by the British authorities on 21 June 1945. Previously, Bangerskis had been the Latvian Minister of Defense in 1924-1925 and 1928-1929. During World War II, he attained the rank of SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS and served as the Inspector General of the Latvian SS Volunteer Legion.