October 14, 1947: Defense counsel for Georg Rickhey, on trial in Germany, requests that von Braun be made available to testify on Rickhey's behalf. The Army Ordnance staff refuses to allow it. However, since the serious nature of the charges against the defendant could result in a penalty of death, von Braun is allowed to swear a deposition. The questions posed by Rickhey's counsel are very narrow in scope, and von Braun is not asked anything that would tend to incriminate him. It should be noted, however, that while von Braun consistently professed to be uninvolved in the activities of the Mittelwerk, his answers reveal extensive knowledge of its operations.

. . . .

10. Q: Did you yourself work in the Mittelwerk factory at Nordhausen? If so, please give the dates.

A: No.

11. Q: If you were not employed in Mittelwerk did you ever visit the factory? If so, what dates and in what capacity?

A: Yes, I visited the later Mittelwerk for some time in September or October 1943 . . . . Later on, after A-4 production was in operation, I have been there 15 to 20 times, approximately, for discussing technical matters in connection with the technical alterations of the A-4. The last time I was there was in February 1945.

12. Q: During your visit did you observe general working conditions in the Mittelwerk factory from May 1944 to April 1945?

A: Working conditions at the Mittelwerk were continuously improved during the entire period from the last months of 1943 up to my last visit to the plant. In the beginning, such condition were extremely primitive, since the tunnels were not fit in any way for starting accurate production and to absorb many thousands of workers. Since a camp was not available, the prisoners were housed in the tunnels proper under the most primitive conditions. However, in the summer of 1944 considerable improvements had been made or were partly under construction.

. . . .

18. Q: Is it correct that Rickhey was in effect just a figure head, and the real authority was held by Sawatzki [Alblin Sawatzki, production director of the V-2 whose whereabouts during the Trial were unknown]?

A: Yes. Sawatzki was given exclusive authority in all matters concerning management.

. . . .

20. Q: Is it correct that overall production programs were set by the Production or Armaments Ministry and that administration of such programs was in the hands of Sawatzki?

A: The work programs of the Mittelwerk were determined by the leaders of the competent production commissions of the Speer Ministry. Sawatzki being a member of such commissions was personally responsible to their leaders for the feasibility of the programs assigned to the Mittelwerk.

21. Q: Is it correct that Sawatzki had great power and influence in Mittelwerk because of his connections with SS General Dr. Kammler [Hans Kammler, who directed construction of the underground production facility, exercised significant control over production as well as V-2 field operations, and whose whereabouts were also unknown during the Trial] and because of his position as a member of the Special Board for V-weapons?

A: In the fall of 1943 SS General Kammler was given the command by Himmler to develop a subterranean V-weapon production plant (V-1 and V-2) with the assistance of his construction organization made up of prisoners from concentration camps. After July 20, 1944 (Attempt to assassinate Hitler) Kammler was successful in getting assignment with the command of troops trained in V-weapons . . . . Kammler [also] succeeded in dictatorial manner to get hold of the production. He passed up Rickhey entirely and gave his commands directly to Sawatzki who, very expertly but with the utmost ruthlessness against the prisoners as well as the German engineers and skilled workers, tried to carry them out.

. . . .

33. Q: Is it correct that many civilian workers worked side by side with the prisoner workers of Mittelwerk under exactly the same conditions of temperature, air, etc.?

A: Yes. I would estimate that the number of civil engineers and civil skilled labor amounted to at least 1,000 men. Besides, a larger number of female civil administration aides, working on average of 12 hours daily, was employed in the tunnels and working in wooden shacks set up for this purpose inside the tunnels.

. . . .

40. Q: Is it correct that for all matters of normal discipline and control of prisoners were exclusively under the guard of the SS?

A: As far as I know, yes.

41. Q: Is it correct that because of [the] top secret nature of the Mittelwerk project, all matters dealing with sabotage, espionage and subversive political activity, the prisoners were disciplined and punished by the SD [Sicherheitdienst, Security Service of the SS] or the Gestapo?

A: If I remember correctly, it was done exclusively by the SD.


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