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         Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Supplement
                   B XVIII. Gottlieb Berger*
       The Fate of Red Cross Parcels for War Prisoners

     Excerpts from Testimony of Gottlieb Berger, taken at
     Nurnberg, Germany, 19 October 1945, 1450-1615, by Lt.
     Col. Smith Brookhart, IGD. Captain Mark Priceman,
     Interpreter; Todd Mitchell, Reporter.

* Gottlieb Berger was Chief of Central Office of SS; SS
Obergruppenfuehrer and General of Waffen-SS; Inspector
General of Prisoners of War; Head of Policy Division of
Reich Ministry for Eastern Territories. See also Document
3723-PS, vol. VI, p. 460.]

Q. Will you tell us the circumstances under which you were
ordered on or about the first of October 1944, to take
charge of prisoners of war affairs under the Reichsfuehrer
SS Himmler?

A. On the 29th of September 1944, I was ordered to the
general headquarters in East Prussia. This surprised me,
for the last time I had been there on the 19th of
September Himmler explained to me that he had taken charge
of the administration of the POW's, and that he would put
me in charge of this activity. On that evening of the 29th
I had to go with him to see Hitler in order to be
introduced to him. I asked him then why I should be
selected for this task as I did not feel qualified for the
job of a guardian of prisoners, and he told me that it was
essential that the prisoner of war organization be kept
separate from the concentration camps and that no
confusion be permitted to take place. He did not want to
go into detail as he did not have a clear picture himself
at that time, and he said he would have to discuss it with
Field Marshal Keitel.

Q. Then what happened?

A. And so that evening I went over to Hitler's place.
Himmler came along and, finally, sometime between midnight
and one in the morning I was received by Hitler, who
immediately began by reprimanding me because he had been
under the impression that I had been in charge of this
administration for some time.

Q. What did he say, and what did you say?

A. Hitler was then suffering from the effects of the
attempt against his life. He was in poor physical
condition, could hardly get up by himself, pus was coming
out of his right ear, and he was extremely irritable. I
could not possibly repeat now the exact wording of the
conversation that took place.

Q. State it in substance.

A. As I said, he was extremely irritable. He said that
scandalous

                                                 [Page 1534]

conditions prevailed in some of the camps for prisoners of
war, that up to fifteen tons of food products had
accumulated in some of those camps, and that he had
information from officials who had been captured in the
uprising in Czechoslovakia to the effect that airborne
landings were impending, and we were taking the risk of
permitting the landing troops to gain control over those
stores of food supplies -- food reserves. At this point
Himmler intervened, and he suggested that if these food
reserves were to be removed expeditiously that the best we
could do would be to assign them to the NSV, the National
Socialist Welfare organization. Hitler said that he would
go along if this was in compliance with international
commitments -- he used some such term -- and in any case,
he told me, that by the second of October I would have to
issue instructions according to which these food reserves
were to be moved within fourteen days, and that whatever
remained after that period would be lost to the prisoners
of war organization. He also told me that I had been the
one who had always been in favor of fair treatment for the
eastern prisoners of war, and he said now was the time for
me to accept the more unpleasant side of my task of
handling them, and, in any case, he wanted to see a copy
of the order that I was to issue. As I said, this whole
field was entirely new to me, and I didn't know at that
time what sort of food products were concerned. When
riding back with Himmler I asked him about them and only
then I learned from him that these were mercy parcels for
prisoners of war which had been transmitted through the
Red Cross.


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