The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1998/04/07

                                                  [Page 248]

Q. In what respects, if any, were the official duties of the
Einsatz Groups concerned with Jews and Communist Commissars?

A. As far as the question of Jews and Communists is
concerned, the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos were
orally instructed by their leaders before the march.

Q. What were their instructions with respect to the Jews and
the Communist functionaries?

A. They were instructed that in the field of activity of the
Einsatzgruppe in Russian territory the Jews, as well as the
political Soviet Commissars, were to be liquidated.

Q. And when you say "liquidated" do you mean "killed?"

A. I mean "killed."

Q. Prior to the opening of the Soviet campaign, did you
attend a conference at Pretz?

A. Yes, it was a discussion at which the Einsatzgruppen and
the Einsatzkommandos were informed of the goals of their
activity and were given the necessary commands.

Q. Who was present at that conference?

A. The Chiefs of the Einsatzgruppen and the leaders of the
Einsatzkommandos and Streckenbach of the R.S.H.A., who
transmitted the orders of Heydrich and Himmler.

Q. What were those orders?

A. Those were the general orders regarding the work of the
Sipo, which aided the liquidation order which I have already

Q. And that conference took place on approximately what

A. About three or four days before our march.

Q. So that before you commenced to march into Soviet Russia,
you received orders at this conference to exterminate the
Jews and Communist functionaries, in addition to the regular
professional work of the Security Police and SD; is that

A. That is right.

Q. Did you, personally, have any conversation with Himmler,
respecting any communication from Himmler to the Chiefs of
Army Groups and Armies concerning this mission?

A. Yes. Himmler informed me that before the beginning of the
Russian campaign Hitler, in a with the Commander of the
Army, had stated this task and had instructed the High
Commander to provide the necessary support in regard to it.

Q. So that you can testify that the Chiefs of the Army
Groups and the Armies had been similarly informed of those
orders for the liquidation of the Jews and Soviet

A. I believe that it is not correct in this particular form.
They had no orders for liquidation. The order for the
liquidation originated with Himmler, but since this
liquidation took place in the operational region of the High
Command, of the Army Groups or the Army, the Army was
ordered to support these measures. Without these
instructions to the Army, the Einsatzgruppe in this sense
would not have been possible.

Q. Did you have any other conversation with Himmler
concerning this order?

A. Yes, in the late summer of 1941 Himmler was in Nikolaiev.
He assembled the leaders and men of the Einsatzgruppen and
Kommandos and repeated

                                                  [Page 249]
to them the orders for liquidation with the remark that the
leaders and men who were taking part in the liquidation bore
no personal responsibility for the execution of these
orders. The responsibility was his, alone, as well, of
course, as that of the Fuehrer.

Q. And you yourself heard that said?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know whether this mission of the Einsatz Group was
known to the Army Group Commanders?

A. This order and the execution of these orders were known
to the High Commander of the Army.

Q. How do you know that?

A. Through conferences with the Army and through
instructions which were given by the Army in reference to
this execution.

Q. Was the mission of the Einsatz Groups and the agreement
between O.K.W., O.K.H. and R.S.H.A. known to the other
leaders in the R.S.H.A.?

A. At least some of them knew, since some of the leaders
were also active in the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos
in the course of time. Furthermore, the leaders who had to
do with organisation also knew it.

Q. Most of the leaders came from the R.S.H.A., did they not?

A. Which leaders?

Q. Of the Einsatz Groups.

A. No, one cannot say that. The leaders in the
Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos came from the entire

Q. Do you know whether the mission and the agreement were
also known to Kaltenbrunner?

A. After his entry into service Kaltenbrunner had to concern
himself with these questions and consequently must have
known the background of the Einsatzgruppen which were dealt
with in his own office.

Q. Who was the commanding officer of the 11th Army?

A. At first, Ritter von Schober; later, Von Mannstein.

Q. Will you tell the Tribunal in what way or ways the
commanding officers of the 11th Army directed or supervised
Einsatz Group D in carrying out its liquidation activities?

A. An order from the 1st Army came to Nikolaiev, stating
that liquidations were to take place only at a distance of
not less than 200 kilometers from the Headquarters of the
High Commander Mannheim.

Q. Do you recall any other occasion?

A. In Simferopol, the Army High Command gave the proper
Einsatzkommandos further orders  to hasten the liquidation,
on the grounds that in this region there was a great housing

Q. Do you know how many persons were liquidated by Einsatz
Group D, under your direction?

A. In the year between June, 1941, to June, 1942, the
Einsatzkommandos announced 90,000 people liquidated.

Q. Did that include men, women, and children?

A. Yes.

Q. On what do you base those figures?

A. On reports sent by the Einsatzkommandos to the

Q. Were those reports submitted to you?

A. Yes.

                                                  [Page 250]

Q. And you saw them and read them?

A. I beg your pardon?

Q. And you saw and read those reports, personally?

A. Yes.

Q. And it is on those reports that you base the figures you
have given the Tribunal?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know how those figures compare with the number of
persons liquidated by other Einsatz Groups?

A. The figures known to me from other Einsatzgruppen are
materially larger.

Q. That was due to what factor?

A. I believe that to a large extent the figures submitted by
the other Einsatzgruppen were exaggerated.

Q. Did you see reports of liquidations from the other
Einsatz Groups from time to time?

A. Yes.

Q. And those reports showed liquidations exceeding those of
Group D; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you personally supervise mass executions of these

A. I was present at mass executions for purposes of

Q. Will you explain to the Tribunal in detail how an
individual mass execution was carried out?

A. A local Einsatzkommando attempted to collect all the Jews
in one area. The registration of the Jews was performed by
the Jews themselves.

Q. On what pretext, if any, were they rounded up?

A. On the pretext that they were to be re-located.

Q. Will you continue?

A. After the registration, the Jews were collected at a
certain place. From there they were later led to the place
of execution. The execution was carried out in a military

Q. In what way were they transported to the place of

A. They were transported to the place of execution in a
wagon -- always only as many as could be executed
immediately. In this way the attempt was made to keep the
span of time in which the victims knew what was about to
happen to them until the time of their actual execution as
short as possible.

Q. Was that your idea?

A. Yes.

Q. And after they were shot what was done with the bodies?

A. The bodies were buried in the trenches.

Q. What determination, if any, was made as to whether the
persons were actually dead?

A. The unit leaders had the order to watch out for that and
to administer the coup de grace themselves if necessary.

Q. And who would do that?

A. Either the unit leader himself or somebody designated by

Q. In what positions were the victims shot?

A. Standing or kneeling.

                                                  [Page 251]

Q. What was done with the personal property and clothing of
the persons executed?

A. All personal property of value was collected at the time
of the shooting, confiscated and handed over to the R.S.H.A.
or the Finance Minister. At first the clothing was divided
up, but in the winter of 1942 it was taken by the  N.S.V.
and disposed of by that organisation.

Q. All their personal property was registered at the time?

A. Only the objects of value were registered. The other
objects were not.

Q. What happened to the garments which the victims were
wearing when they went to the place of execution?

A. They were obliged to take off their outer garments
immediately before the execution.

Q. All of them?

A. The outer garments, yes.

Q. How about the rest of the garments they were wearing?

A. They were allowed to keep their underclothing.

Q. Was that true of not only your group but of the other
Einsatz Groups?

A. That was the order in my Einsatzgruppe. Other
Einsatzgruppen handled the matter differently.

Q. In what way did they handle it?

A. A few of the Einsatz leaders did not employ the military
way of liquidation and killed the victims simply by shooting
them in the back of the neck.

Q. And you objected to that procedure?

A. I was against that procedure, yes.

Q. For what reason?

A. Because for the victims as well as those who carried out
the executions that was an unnecessary spiritual suffering.

Q. Now, what was done with the property collected by the
Einsatzkommandos from these victims?

A. In so far as it was a question of objects of value, they
were sent to the R.S.H.A. in Berlin or to the Reich Ministry
of Finance. The articles which could be used in the
operational area were used there immediately.

Q. For example, what happened to gold and silver taken from
the victims?

A. That was, as I have just said, turned over to the Reich
Ministry of Finance in Berlin.

Q. How do you know that?

A. I can remember that it was actually handled in that way
in Simferopol.

Q. How about watches, for example, taken from the victims?

A. At the request of the Army watches were put at the
disposal of the Front.

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