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Dr Robert Kempner

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Dr Robert M W Kempner was a lawyer in the Weimar-era Prussian Ministry of the Interior, in Berlin. When the Nazis came to office in 1933, he fled abroad, as a Jew; he settled in the United States, and returned in US Army uniform with the victorious Allied troops in 1945 (picture, background right): he acted as assistant prosecutor, in charge of rebuttal cases, at the main International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, to the evident distaste of chief prosecutor Robert H Jackson, who stated in writing that he had wanted no Jews on his team to avoid the impression the trials were a vengeance crusade.

Kempner made few friends at the main Nuremberg trial, 1945/46. He coerced witnesses like Friedrich Gaus, who testified on the authenticity of the Hitler-Stalin pact, with threats of deportation to Russia; he slipped a note to prosecutors cross-examining the witness Field-Marshal Erhard Milch urging them to investigate Milch's Jewish parentage; and he allowed the faking of movie and photographic evidence.

Kempner also stole numbers of original documents from the archives, and was Schlegelberger documentalmost certainly responsible for the attempt to conceal from posterity the March 1942 Schlegelberger Document, in which a hard-pressed Adolf Hitler ordered the postponement of the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem until after the war. (The document was missing from the five-item folder of photocopies, ND: 4025-PS, after he returned it to the Nuremberg Trial archives; fortunately the original folder was found intact thirty years later in the Federal Archives). Since Mr Irving first published the document in Hitler's War, 1977, conformist historians have had a hard time explaining it away.

Kempner acted as chief US prosecutor in the subsequent US Proceedings against German doctors, generals, industrialists, etc. He met his match in one defendant, State-Secretary Dr Wilhelm Stuckart, who knew more about Kempner's past than was healthy for either -- Stuckart (a participant in the Wannsee conference) bragged to his prison friends (State-Secretary, Field-Marshal Milch) that he had told Kempner he had squirreled away a document that would incriminate him in some way, and he smugly predicted that the American judges would acquit him; on the grounds of "ill health", Stuckart was duly sentenced to "time served", to the astonishment of court, press, and co-defendants.

Kempner returned to the United States, then practiced in Frankfurt-on-Main for a while as a lawyer in the 1960s. He moved back to Philadelphia, where he died in 1993.

It had long been suspected that Kempner had also purloined from Nuremberg Trial records the original diaries of chief Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg, who was hanged at Nuremberg. (In one later work, Kempner temptingly quoted passages which are not in Hans-Günter Seraphim's fragmentary published edition of the diaries).

His papers were removed from his home by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which wrongly claimed to have been left them in a will. Even then, the USHMM astonishingly overlooked a significant body of pre-war, wartime, and post-war documents, stacked in file-boxes and footlockers around the rooms and on the villa's porch.

SonderstabThese were obtained by Philadelphia dealer Walt Martin when he bought the rights to clean out the house. Among them were important original files and records of Hans-Georg Thomas, of the OKW's Wehrwirtschaftsamt, and the original war diary of the Sonderstab Oldenburg (see right), set up to plan the Nazi economic exploitation of post-war Soviet Union. The USHMM offered Mr Martin a sum of money for these residual files.

Contacted by Martin as a Nazi-era documents expert, David Irving inventoried some of the boxes in September 2001, and with Martin's consent notified the German Federal Archives and other repositories of the existence of this collection; he stated that in his view ten percent of the Martin collection was of historic significance. Shortly after Mr Irving announced that he had done so, the FBI sprang a surprise raid on Walt Martin's home -- evidently at the instigation of the disappointed USHMM -- and confiscated the boxes.

Walt Martin sued in the US courts for the return of his property, and was awarded half of the items in a judgment handed down at the end of October 2003. They were auctioned off in January 2005.

Ironically, some months after the conclusion of the Lipstadt Trial in April 2000, the US government archives released papers revealing that in 1969 Kempner had tried to block Mr Irving's access to its National Archives files, alleging that he would tamper with the documents. Mr Irving had told him he intended to compare the sound recordings of Milch's March 1946 evidence with the subsequently published texts; as he suspected, the comparison established that the transcripts in the famous Blue Volumes had on occasions been tampered with and manipulated (see David Irving: The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe).

Index to documents relating to
Dr Robert Kempner


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