Translation of Tape Recorded
interview of Colonel Nicholas von Below
(Hitler's Luftwaffe adjutant, 1937-1945),
May 18, 1968
David Irving: One more question.
You were with Hitler in his home when the
news of the Reichskristallnacht arrived
there in Munich, and he was rather
surprised by that. Can you depict that?
Who else was there?
Colonel von Below: I remember
only [Julius] Schaub,
and a servant and a doctor certainly, and
a personal adjutant, a military adjutant,
an SS orderly, a doctor, a secretary.
[Theo] Morell was at that time not
yet the duty physician. You must always
make a distinction between a duty
physician and Prof. Morell. Prof. Morell
was the senior doctor for certain things,
while the duty doctor was always one of
the three surgeons, [Karl] Brandt,
[Hanskarl von] Hasselbach or
[Hans] Haase. Morell just had to
be in the same town as Hitler, i.e.
Munich, Obersalzberg, Berlin, or wherever
he happened to be, at that time; but in
other words he had to be in Munich, within
reach. But the duty doctor always had to
be right there, where Hitler was. He had
to accompany him when he drove around in
the city, when he was eating, etc. Prof.
Morell was allowed to make up his own mind
whether to take part, mostly he was so
interested himself that he journeyed with
us. At the top level official things
Morell was not actually there.
Irving: But at the tea evenings,
Below: Yes, then there was often talk
about the things that had happened, and he
took that in naturally.
Irving: Back to the
Below: The first thing that came to us
was a phone call from the Four Seasons
Hotel, - those of us who were on duty with
Hitler always lived at that time in the
Hotel Four Seasons and on this day we were
billeted in rooms that were quite high up.
The staff phoned us, to say we ought to
come right over and pack our bags, as in a
neighbouring building the synagogue was on
fire and the sparks were flying right over
the building. It was just a matter of
security. [Dr] Brandt always lived
in that hotel too. He said, "Ought we to
drive over or not?" Somebody said then,
"Well one of us ought at least to go and
take a look." Whether anybody did drive
over, I don't know now. Then further
reports came, I don't know on the basis of
what facts, whether it was
[Julius] Schaub asking or the
fire-brigade or the Gau headquarters.
Shortly after that it became known that
the synagogue had not caught fire by
itself, but had been set on fire and that
there was a demonstration going on.
Thereupon that was immediately passed on
by Schaub to Hitler. Thereupon the Police
President of Munich, [Baron
Friedrich] von Eberstein, was
immediately sent for. Herr von Eberstein
then appeared soon after at the
Führer's residence, he was an SS
Obergruppenführer. He was now
interrogated by Hitler. Then there was a
conversation between Hitler and Goebbels
by phone about the situation.
Irving: Was he remaining in Munich?
Below: I don't know. The people were
probably all in Munich because of the
eight and ninth of November.
Irving: What was Hitler's reaction to
the first news reports?
Below: Well: "What's going on, please
find out, I have to know what the game
is." It was my impression that we all, and
even Hitler himself, were totally in the
dark [Muspott], nobody knew
anything about anything. I can only say,
from my many years with Hitler and on his
staff, if that had been organised by
Hitler and with Hitler's knowledge - a
charade on that scale would have been
impossible! I wouldn't put it past
Goebbels, absolutely not. Then Hitler
became angry and raised his voice quite
loudly to Eberstein and said, "I demand
that order is restored at once!" That was
however limited just to Munich. I
overheard that, because the conversation
took place as I was on the way out. What
happened with regard to the directive to
Goebbels or to Himmler for the rest of the
Reich territory, that I do not know. I
spoke once more with Eberstein about this
business in Nuremberg prison in 1948, and
I asked him, "Did you know anything about
it before you came to Hitler's?" He
described it to me just as I had it in my
own recollection. He was every bit as
surprised by the whole events when he came
to Hitler, and he was horrified at the
development in his own patch, Munich.
The topic occupied us actively ever
after. Who was the real originator of this
affair? We did not learn that at the time
either. We suspected that the SA was
behind it, but who in the SA had given the
order, I never learned that either.
Irving: When Hitler then learned that
it had been done in conjunction with
Goebbels, did he condone the thing?
Below: I don't know, I don't think so.
I just learned the sequel with the famous
fine of one million, or whatever the Jews
had to pay up. It was ordered at the time
that the Jews had to pay a huge sum. That
was all connected with Vom Rath and the
like, the Reichskristallnacht. I only know
that on the various points Göring
once came to Hitler - that was later, in
Berlin, I think - and that he was
frightfully agitated about the fact that
so many plate glass windows had been
smashed, which we would have to replace
with costly foreign currency purchases.
That was completely new to me, and it's
still a bit of puzzle to me today. Any way
I know that Göring was in a rage
because this Reichskristallnacht had cost
him so much hard currency. Quite apart
from the fact that Göring had a
totally different attitude toward the Jews
that the Party gentry like Goebbels,
Himmler, etc. He considered this topic was
particularly effective, which was right.
This problem is naturally a very important
and decisive one in the whole field of the
Third Reich. But naturally through the
depiction after the war the depiction of
it has been completely distorted, which is
understandable enough but which has not
exactly helped to clarify what happened.
The most radical of all the Nazi leaders
was, from the very outset, Goebbels, as I
saw for myself at that time, and that is
why it was rather remarkable, in the last
days in Berlin, that it was he of all
people who had a substantial role in the
way things had gone, that it was Goebbels
who was now the Last Paladin at Hitler's
side, - that was just a little bit
macabre. Because he had not really done
Hitler any favours. For a long time Hitler
did not really place much trust in him,
but then after a while he began to in
matters of importance, because Goebbels
had the knack or putting forward his
things in a very logical and penetrating
manner. Hitler was in some way a sucker
for this whole kind of act
[Masche], there's no doubt about
[Death of] Roosevelt, then
Goebbels suddenly turned up and said,
"That's the death of Czarina Catherine!",
just like at the time of Frederick the