The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. STAHMER, Continued:

At this camp conference in the presence of Keitel, Hitler
did not order the shooting of the prisoners, who were to
remain in Himmler's hands. Neither Keitel nor Jodl expected
such measures. Jodl expected the escaped prisoners to be
sent to a concentration camp for some time. Keitel and Jodl
agree in their testimonies that Reichsmarschall Goering did
not attend this meeting. Therefore, it cannot possibly be
correct that General Field-Marshal Keitel declared in a
conference with General Westhoff that he had been
reprimanded by Goering at the camp meeting on account of the
prisoners' escape.

General Koller has testified that General Korten assured him
over the telephone around about the end of March or
beginning of April, 1944, that the Luftwaffe, namely the
Reichsmarschall and Korten himself, were not involved in the
order and had only been informed of it later. Furthermore,
Koller testified that the Reichsmarschall was extremely
angry about the shooting. These statements are completely in
accordance with the declarations of Reichsmarschall Goering,
who was on a vacation at the time of the conference with
Hitler. The fact of the escape reached him only through a
telephone report of his adjutant. It was only after his
return from vacation, some time around Easter, 1944, that he
learned through his Chief of General Staff, Korten, about
the fact that shootings of prisoners had taken place.
Reichsmarschall Goering was very upset about this last
report because he condemned the deed in itself, and,
moreover, he feared reprisals for his own airmen.

Upon inquiry, Himmler then confirmed the executions to
Reichsmarschall Goering with the justification that an order
to that effect had been issued to him by Hitler.

It is made clear by this conversation how the execution came
about and how the order for its perpetration was concealed
from the Wehrmacht. In the absence of Keitel and Jodl,
Hitler issued the order to Himmler to carry out the
execution and Himmler then, unknown to the Wehrmacht,
immediately passed on the order to the Reich Security Main
Office - i.e., according to Kaltenbrunner's statement - to
Muller or, as the case may be, to Nebe.

Not only did Reichsmarschall Goering severely upbraid
Himmler - because the latter had executed the order without
informing him - but he raised the most vigorous protest
against this measure in a subsequent interview with Hitler.
This resulted in a violent argument between Goering and

Because Goering strongly condemned such proceedings, he
requested shortly afterwards that the prisoner camps should
be placed under the control of the OKW. On being questioned,
Field-Marshal Keitel confirmed, as witness, that a few weeks
after the occurrence he received a letter from the General
Quartermaster of the Luftwaffe, in which the Luftwaffe
requested the taking over of its camps by the OKW.

This result of the examination of evidence, which corrects
the initial statements of the witnesses Westhoff and Wielen,
which are contradictory in many respects, as well as
Keitel's earlier declaration of 10th November, 1945, also
justifies the assertion that Reichsmarschall Goering was in
no way involved in this affair, that he condemned it most
severely when he was informed of it, and that he, therefore,

                                                  [Page 125]

cannot be called upon to answer for this extremely
regrettable and reprehensible order, which it was not within
his power to prevent.

The prosecution has gone on to the question of "lynch law"
which was carried out by the German population in individual
cases in 1944, when enemy airmen had been shot down. For
these occurrences, the defendants, especially
Reichsmarschall Goering, are held responsible. The charge
that defendant Goering, or the Wehrmacht are in any way
involved in this action, that they issued orders or
instructions to this effect, or even merely approved the
action, is seen to be entirely unjustifiable. The
examination of evidence here has thoroughly cleared up the
matter in favour of the defendant.

To support their charges against Reichsmarschall Goering,
the prosecution invokes first of all a protocol of 19th May,
1944 (L. 166) concerning the so-called "Hunting Conference"
which was held on the 15th and 16th May, under the direction
of the defendant.

Numbered as item twenty of this memorandum is a statement of
the defendant saying he would suggest to the Fuehrer that
enemy terror flyers should immediately be shot on the scene
of their offence. The defendant most definitely denies
having made any pronouncement to this effect, and justly
points to the following circumstances which belie any such

The session stretched over two days. Numerous technical and
organisational questions were discussed. The question
touched upon in item twenty had nothing whatever to do with
the agenda for the rest of the session, least of all with
the purpose of the session. The remark is placed in the
midst of themes which deal with matters of an entirely
different nature, and has no point in this connection.
Besides, Goering, had he approved and wished it, himself
could have immediately issued such an order without further
ado, as everyone knew the Fuehrer was well disposed to him.

The decisive fact is that the statement is in the sharpest
contradiction to the fundamental attitude of the defendant.
He always stood for the view that the enemy airman who is
shot down is his comrade, and must be treated as a comrade,
a fact I have already remarked upon in another connection.
Moreover, in the question as to how terror flyers were to be
treated, he defended his position with all frankness against
the conception upheld by Hitler and made no secret to Hitler
of his entirely different opinion.

In view of this unwavering attitude, it is utterly out of
the question that he should suddenly have urged Hitler to
issue the above-mentioned order against the terror flyers -
an order which he opposed with all his might and the
execution of which he sought to prevent by every means as
soon as it came to his knowledge. And he did succeed in fact
in preventing the execution of this order.

If the terror flyers were actually discussed at the session,
this discussion could only have occurred with regard to the
Fuehrer having suggested such a measure.

With reference to the minutes, the following fundamental
remarks must be added:

We have here the combined notes of a young officer,
stretching over a two-day session, during which there had
been a great ideal of talking and discussion. Experience of
such note-taking in many other cases has shown that records
of that kind are often very unreliable, and have even at
times reproduced the subject of the discussion in an utterly
perverted form, precisely because the person taking notes -
especially when several participants were present, and were
talking at random - could not follow the course of the
discussion and, consequently, did not reproduce the
substance of it accurately, particularly when, in addition
to this, he was relieved by other people; this explains many
factual errors as well as the inadequacy and unreliability
of such records.

The minutes were never submitted to the defendant. He had
not, therefore, been able to verify their contents nor to
correct their errors.

Records of this sort, which are built up in the way
described above, and which are not submitted to the perusal
and approval of the parties concerned, are worthless

                                                  [Page 126]

in the production of evidence. They cannot in themselves
alone serve as an adequate means of proof either to charge
or convict the defendant. They can, therefore, only be made
use of to the detriment of the parties implicated when the
contended facts are confirmed by other material brought for
evidence from sources external to these minutes. In the
present case, there is no confirmation from other evidence
that Goering actually made the statement contained in item
twenty or made a request to Hitler to that effect.

The note dated 21st May (731-PS) fails to provide support
for the claim. The note: "General Korten, according to a
speech by the Reichsmarschall, reports ... " cannot, in view
of the defendant's unrefuted statement, possibly mean that
the Reichsmarschall delivered an address on this matter in
Hitler's quarters, but solely that Korten reported on this
subject to the Reichsmarschall and that Korten informed the
Reichsmarschall of Hitler's order.

The rest of the examination of evidence has made it clear
beyond doubt that Goering was against a special treatment of
enemy terror flyers who had been shot down, and that he
opposed Hitler's order.

Witness Colonel Brauchitsch pointed out during his
interrogation on the 12th March, 1946, that in spring, 1944,
there was a sudden increase in the losses among the civilian
population through machine-gun attacks by enemy airmen.

These attacks by enemy airmen were directed, within Germany,
against civilians working in the fields, minor railway lines
without any military importance and against pedestrians and

This constituted a gross violation of the Hague Rules of
Land Warfare, according to which any combat act against the
non-combatant population of the country is prohibited, and
any attack or shelling of open cities, villages, residences
or buildings is forbidden.

According to the opinion of the witness Brauchitsch this
behaviour, which quite evidently violated International Law,
caused Hitler to order special action against airmen guilty
of such acts, in addition to the usual defensive measures.
Relative to this, Hitler advocated - as far as is known to
the witness - among other severe measures, encouragement of

This attitude of Hitler toward the violations of
International Law by enemy airmen, however, did not meet
with the approval of the armed forces, especially not with
that of Reichsmarschall Goering and that of his Chief of
Staff General Korten. Both of them did condemn to the utmost
the attacks of enemy airmen which were exclusively directed
against the defenceless civilian population. However, they
nevertheless opposed the handing over of defenceless shot-
down aviators to the aroused mob for the carrying out of
lynch law, and they did not think these measures an
appropriate means of combating this conduct which was in
violation of International Law.

The witness General Koller expressed himself to the same
effect. Early in June, 1944, General Korten informed this
witness of the fact that the Fuehrer intended to decree an
order to the effect that terror flyers were to be
surrendered to public fury.

I come now to the part, which I have already read in great
detail a few days ago. I can therefore summarize it, to the
effect that Koller and Korten were of the opinion that the
attacks of the enemy flyers on the defenceless population,
school classes and kindergartens were horrible, but,
nevertheless, they did not acknowledge the Fuehrer's
intended order, as it was contrary to International Law and
basic military concepts. The Wehrmacht shared this opinion
and by protracted negotiations and discussions about
establishing the concept of "terror flyers", attempted to
draw out the matter as long as possible.

That is a summary of Pages 52 to 53. I read the details some
days ago, and therefore did not wish to bring them up again.

I now continue on Page 54:

In particular, the margin note on Document 785-D (Exhibit GB
318), entitled:

"No answer received from Commander-in-Chief of the Air
Force," admits of the

                                                  [Page 127]

conclusion that the Reichsmarschall purposely wanted to
prolong the matter. Furthermore, Reichsmarschall Goering, as
can be clearly seen from the letter of 19th June, 1944,
maintained the opinion that in every instance he considered
legal procedures against terror flyers as definitely
necessary. If it is stated in a subsequent document of 26th
June, 1944:

  "The Reichsmarschall agrees with the announced
  formulation defining the concept of terror flyers and
  with the suggested procedure,"

then the agreement with the procedure refers exclusively to
the procedure of publication suggested in the final
paragraph of the letter of 15th June, 1944, for which
Reichsmarschall Goering's approval had been requested. That
the Reichsmarschall Goering, until the end of the war
maintained the old airman standpoint - according to which
enemy airmen as soon as they have been shot down are to be
considered and treated as comrades - was not only expressly
deposed by the witness, General Field-Marshal Milch, but is
also emphasized by General Koller, who has. stated that the
attitude of Goering, and his Air Force was always correct
and chivalrous, and that comradely regard of the Air Force,
even toward the enemy, was shown in particular by the
Emergency Sea Service Unit of the Air Force which helped
friend and foe alike.

I shall now read the concluding paragraph of the chapter.

  "The armed forces and the defendant Goering, have
  rejected lynch law as well as all measures against the
  terror-flyers which are not in accordance with legal
  regulations, and have not issued any orders to troops
  under their command; in no case have enemy airmen been
  shot by the Air Force or by the Army, or handed over to
  the Security Service (SD)."

The prosecution accuses the defendant Goering of having
established a reign of terror in Prussia immediately after
30th January, 1933, in his capacity as Prussian Minister of
the Interior, and soon afterwards as Prussian Minister
President, in order to suppress all opposition against the
Nazi programme. In order to carryout his plans he had used
the Prussian police; whom he had ordered as early as in,
February, 1933, to protect the new government by proceeding
ruthlessly against all political opponents without
consideration of the consequences; and that in order to
safeguard and consolidate the power, he had created the
feared Secret State Police and established concentration
camps as early as spring of 1933.

As to these accusations the following is to be said:

It was natural and cannot serve as an accusation against the
defendant, and to do otherwise would rather have been a
severe violation of the duties entrusted to the defendant,
that he devoted himself with all his strength to the
safeguarding of the new government and took every imaginable
precaution in order to make any attack on this new
government impossible from the very beginning. In order to
achieve this goal, first of all the police institutions had
to be considered.

It only remains to be examined, if the measures the
defendant considered necessary were objectionable.

The question is to be answered in the negative because of
the following considerations:

In every State the police is the inner political instrument
of power; in every State its task is to support the
Government, to protect it in every direction and to render
the disturber of the peace and the violator of the law
harmless, by force of arms, if necessary. The defendant gave
the same tasks to the police under his direction, whom he
ordered, in the speech mentioned by the prosecution, to act
energetically and to fulfil their duties conscientiously. To
what extent such an appeal for the performance of duty
should not be permissible is incomprehensible.

In his interrogation, the defendant Goering, described
expressly for what reasons. and along which lines he
considered a reorganisation of the police as necessary, and
his directives in the matter cannot be objected to.

I should like to point out in this connection that,
according to the reorganised rules of International Law, a
sovereign State has the right to regulate its internal
affairs as it deems fit.

                                                  [Page 128]

The reform of the police is an exclusively internal affair.
The violation of rules generally recognized by International
Law is, therefore, out of question in this respect.

A political police was in existence in Prussia before the
assumption of power as well. Before the 30th of January,
1933, it was called Police Department 1a, which, among other
things, had to watch and to fight political adversaries, at
that time the National Socialists and Communists in
particular. Such a police dealing with the same tasks was
also needed after the assumption of power in order to
protect the new State against attacks which threatened it,
especially from the very strong Communist Party.

In order to make clear that this department of the police
was charged exclusively with safeguarding the State against
enemies of the State it was named "Secret State Police".

As long as the defendant Goering was head of the police,
which was, in fact, only until 1934 when Himmler was put in
charge, he strictly confined himself to the tasks assigned
to him, did not abuse his authority and no misuse of power
worth mentioning occurred. Nor has the evidence produced
shown anything against the defendant Goering for this period
of time. If, at a later date, the Secret State Police abused
their authority and committed illegal acts, the defendant
had no knowledge of them and did not approve of them. For
mistakes and crimes committed by his successors which
remained unknown to him, he cannot be held responsible.

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