Paris as head of a special commando squad of twenty
men, the nucleus of the S.D.-Security Police in France. During his
cross-examination at Nuremberg, Knochen said: "Heydrich himself gave me that
assignment. With me were S.S.-Hauptsturmführers Hagen and Dietl."
Knochen was soon to give his right-hand man Hagen the important task of
setting up the S.D. Security Police on the Atlantic Coast. Hagen was made
commander of the Bordeaux S.D. Security Police on August 1, and took up
temporary quarters on the King of Belgium's yacht, which had been abandoned at
the wharf after the debacle of June 1940. On January 8, 1941, the Gironde chief
of police wrote François Xavier-Vallat, General Commissioner for Jewish
Affairs in Paris:
I have the honor of bringing to your
attention the wishes of Commander Hagen, the regional director of the security
police, which he expressed during the conference he recently granted the head
of the Jewish bureau.
Commander Hagen made known his intention of interning
during the present month of January many Jews from countries now occupied by
Germany. He did not think the camp in my district, which is at
Mérignac-Beaudésert, could be used for his purposes because:
1. Escape from it is easy.
2. It is
located in a coastal region.
3. It is necessary to separate Jews from other
Commander Hagen intends to fit out a camp in the
Département of Vienne. The necessary funds for doing this are to be
furnished by Jews of the region, and an ordinance will very likely be issued
for their collection.
Hagen did not even spare children, who
were condemned to deportation, as the Grand Rabbi of Bordeaux testified:
In June 1941, the Gestapo, which had sown
panic throughout many districts of our city, brought several Jewish families of
foreign origin but with French children to Mérignac in the middle of the
night. The Gestapo was assisted by Vichy police and the Département
police. Headquarters informed me the following day that the Gestapo had decided
to place all the children in my care, for only their parents were to be
deported. We went right to work and, thanks to the generosity of the people of
Gironde, we quickly found good homes for the children. One month later I was
again called to headquarters to be told that only those children with close
relatives in Gironde could stay there, and that all others were to be deported
at once. Fifty percent of those poor