The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-06/tgmwc-06-57.08

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-06-57.08
Last-Modified: 1997/10/27

                                                  [Page 269]
BY DR. KUBUSCHOK (Counsel for the Reich Cabinet):

Q. A statement made by you yesterday has already been
discussed again to-day; namely, how much knowledge did
individual members of the German Government have, regarding
important decisions? I gathered from your reply that you
considered the Reich Cabinet one homogeneous body. In this
Trial the difficulty repeatedly arises that one assumes
normal conditions. One is especially prone to the conception
that most important political and military decisions, as is
otherwise customary, are made within a Government body
composed of important persons, or within the Military
Supreme Command; in other words, that questions are
discussed and decided within a small group which is part of
a large unit. Witness, from the knowledge you have gained in
your high military rank, could one assume this to be true of
Adolf Hitler's Government? Did not Hitler, in his
personality and methods, and putting it politely, as being a
man of an unusual type, chiefly employ a completely
different procedure here? Did he not always make his
decisions independently or, at most, in closest consultation
with a very few assistants, and can we not deduce from that,
that leading personalities in political and military fields
had no knowledge of impending events?

A. I must answer to that, that my military service in the
General Staff of the Army did not give me an insight into
the working of the German Government. My concept of the
governing body of a nation is that of a united group who,
regardless of the methods the head of the State intends to
use, have such a sense of responsibility toward the people
for the acts of the Government, that they will not allow
just anything to be done by even the head of the state (in
this case Hitler, with his brutal and autocratic ways) but
that they would, at the right moment, take necessary counter-
measures, even if not required to do so, at least as soon as
it was clear to the whole world that this Government was
being led by an insane criminal.

Q. Witness, you belong to the second category of people
which I mentioned. It is an established fact that you have
not intervened, evidently for weighty reasons. I believe
that it would be better if, as far as other persons are
concerned, you did not pass judgment, but answered my
questions only as to actual facts.

My question was whether, according to your knowledge, gained
not only in your military but also in your leading public
position -- whether your judgment was right or wrong is
beside the point, you know the methods in military and
political matters -- decisions were made by a large body of
military and political personalities who met for that
purpose or by a very small circle of people, probably
sometimes by Hitler alone?

A. How decisions of the Reich Cabinet were made is not known
to me. Therefore, in my previous answer, I have merely given
you my concept on it, and I believe this answered the
question. I cannot imagine that one man alone could have
done everything that was done. In order to exert his

                                                  [Page 270]
influence in a small circle he needed the co-operation of
his immediate assistants. In other words, it was quite
impossible for him to achieve his aims otherwise.

Q. As to the co-operation of his closest assistants, do you
believe that some specially qualified Minister, a Minister
of Labour, or some other expert, was ever consulted by
Hitler about his plans for aggression?

THE PRESIDENT: Counsel, the witness has already said that he
does not know how the decisions of the Reich Cabinet were
arrived at. What he may think about it is really not
relevant. He does not know.


Q. Witness, is it your impression that plans for aggression
were made by Hitler many years in advance, or are you of the
opinion that they were made to meet certain circumstances,
on the basis of the intuition which you say he had?

A. That is entirely outside my knowledge. My observations
began on 3rd September, 1940, and continued from that time
until January, 1942. What I observed during that period I
explained yesterday. Concerning the time prior to that I am
not informed.

BY DR. HORN (Counsel for defendant von Ribbentrop):

Q. Witness, you said just now that you were a member of a
body which had the aim of saving Germany from disaster. My
question is: What possibilities of carrying out this aim
were at the disposal of yourself and the other members of
that group?

A. We had the possibility of making ourselves heard and
understood by the German people, and believed it our duty to
make known to the German people our view, not only of
military events but also of the events of 20th July, and to
tell them of the convictions we had since arrived at.

In this connection the initiative came chiefly from the
ranks of the army I had led to Stalingrad. There we
experienced how, through the orders of those military and
political leaders against whom we were now taking a stand,
more than 100,000 soldiers died of hunger and cold. There we
experienced the horrors and terrors of a war of conquest.

Q. Did you have any other possibility apart from propaganda?

A. Apart from the possibility of spreading propaganda
through wireless and our newspapers, apart from that
propaganda to the German people, we had no other facilities.

THE PRESIDENT: What has the Tribunal got to do with this?

DR. HORN: I merely wanted to ascertain what conclusions I
could draw as to the credibility of the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: I cannot see that it has any bearing on his

DR. HORN: It is perfectly possible that we have knowledge of
other possibilities which were available, which the witness
has not mentioned.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal is of the opinion that what the
witness thought or did when he was a prisoner of war in
Russian hands has got nothing to do with his credibility, at
least as far as the questions that you have asked are
concerned, and they will not allow the questions to be put.

DR. HORN: May I have permission to ask the witness one more



Q. Did you, during the time you were a prisoner, have an
opportunity to place your military experiences in any way at
the disposal of anybody else?

A. In no way, in no case, and in no connection.

THE PRESIDENT: Then I understand that that concludes the
cross-examination. Does the Soviet prosecutor wish to ask
any more questions?

GEN. RUDENKO: No, Mr. President. We consider that the
questions have been comprehensively explained.

                                                  [Page 271]

Q. General, you said that when you became Quartermaster-
General of the Army on 3rd September, 1940, you found an
unfinished plan for an attack against the Soviet Union. Do
you know how long that plan had been in preparation before
you saw it?

A. I cannot say exactly how long the period of preparation
lasted, but I would estimate that it lasted two to three

Q. Do you know who had given the orders for the preparation
of the plan?

A. I assume that they originated from the same source
namely, the O.K.W. via the High Command of the Army. The
Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Marx, had given
them the same documents that he had given me.

Q. At the conference on the Plan "Barbarossa," how many
members of the General Staff and High Command of the German
Armed Forces were usually present?

A. The departments concerned, the Operational Department,
the Quartermaster-General, and the Chief of Transportation.
Those were generally the chief departments which were

Q. How many members of the General Staff and High Command of
the German Armed Forces were familiar with the orders and
directives as they were being signed?

A. In the course of time, that is up to December, while the
actual marching orders were being prepared, more or less all
General Staff officers had knowledge of the plan. Just how
many had been informed previously, in the initial periods,
is something which I cannot now say exactly.

BY THE TRIBUNAL (General Nikitchenko):

Q. What exactly did the General Staff of the German Army
represent? Did it deal exclusively with the elaboration of
technical questions, was it the body elaborating technical
problems according to instructions of the Supreme Command,
or, again, was the General Staff an organisation which
prepared, elaborated and submitted its findings to the
Supreme Command independently?

A. According to my conception, it was a technical and
executive body, which had the task of carrying out existing

Q. Therefore the General Staff was merely a technical body?

A. That is how it was in practice. The General Staff, as
such, was an advisory organisation to the Supreme Commander
of the Army and not an executive body.

Q. To what extent did the General Staff conscientiously
carry out the instructions received from the Supreme

A. Will you please repeat that. I am afraid I did not quite
understand the first part of your question.

Q. To what extent did the General Staff conscientiously
carry out the instructions received from the Supreme

A. They carried out these instructions absolutely.

Q. Did any conflict exist between the General Staff and the
Supreme Command?

A. It is a known fact that certain differences of opinion
did exist, although I am unable to give any details. At any
rate, I know through my immediate superior that he
frequently had differences of opinion with the Supreme
Command of the Army.

Q. Could such officers remain, did they, in fact, remain in
the service of the General Staff if they disagreed with the
policy of the Supreme Command?

A. Political questions did not arise in that connection.
Generally speaking, political questions were not discussed
in the circle of the Army Supreme Command.

                                                  [Page 272]
Q. I am not speaking of political questions in the narrow
sense of the word. I am speaking of the policy of planning
for war, of the policy of preparations and aggression; that
is what I had in mind. Was it intended, in case you know
about it, to transform that part of the Soviet Union,
occupied by the German Forces...

A. I never did know what the plans in detail. My knowledge
is restricted to a knowledge of such plans as were contained
in the so-called "Green File," for the exploitation of the

Q. What do you mean by exploitation?

A. The economic exploitation of the country, so that by
utilising its resources one could bring the war in the West
to a close and also secure future supplies in Europe.

Q. Did the degree of exploitation differ from the economic
exploitation applied inside Germany?

A. In that respect I have no personal impressions, since I
only led that army in Russia for three-quarters of a year,
and I was captured early, in January, 1943.

Q. What did you know of the directives issued by Government
organisations in Germany and by the Supreme Command
concerning the treatment of the Soviet population by the

A. I remember that instructions did appear, but I cannot
recollect the date at the moment. In those instructions
definite rules were given for the conduct of the war in the
East. I believe that this principal decree was included in
that so-called "Green File," but there may have been
separate and special orders to the effect that no particular
consideration should be shown the population.

Q. What do you mean by "not to show particular
consideration" -- or perhaps the translation is not quite

A. That meant that only military necessities should be
considered a basis for all measures that were taken.

THE PRESIDENT: Were there any divisions under your command
consisting entirely of S.S. troops?

A. During the time I led the Army I had no S.S. troops at
all under my command, so far as I remember. Even at
Stalingrad, where I had 20 German infantry, armoured and
motorized divisions and two Roumainian divisions, there were
no S.S. units.

THE PRESIDENT: I understand that the S.A. did not form units
did they? The S.A.?

A. I have never heard of S.A. units, but the existence of
S.S. units is a known fact.

THE PRESIDENT: And did you have any branches of the Gestapo
attached to your army?

A. No, I did not have those either.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, I did ask you whether you
had any questions to ask, and you said no, I take it.


THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can retire.

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