The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. What was your attitude toward an attack on Russia at that
time?

A. At first I was very much surprised at the time and asked
the Fuehrer to give me a few hours to state my view. It came
entirely as a surprise to me. Then in the evening, after
this conversation had taken place in the afternoon, I told
the Fuehrer the following:

I urged him not to start a war against Russia at that moment
or even a short time thereafter; not that I was moved by
considerations of International Law or similar reasons; my
point of view was decided by political and military reasons
only. First, at all times since the coming to power I,
perhaps, of all the leading men in Germany was the only one
who always considered the conflict with Russia as a
threatening menace to Germany. I knew - and many others with
me - that for over ten years an exceedingly strong
rearmament and training programme had been in effect in
Russia, that the standard of living had been lowered in all
other fields in favour of one single tremendous rearmament.
The output of German industry and examination of the output
of American, British and other industries always showed
clearly that it consisted

                                                  [Page 136]

only of such machines as were directly or immediately
necessary for a gigantic industrial rearmament programme.

One could, thereby, estimate the speed and the size of the
Russian rearmament. If Germany had now developed in the
Communist direction, then, of course, the Russian
rearmament, in my opinion, would have been directed against
other dangers. But since we had come to power, of course,
the inner political and ideological contrast played, in my
opinion, a menacing part. I have come to understand that
such contrasts do not necessarily have to lead to conflicts
between States, because the national and State political
interests will always be stronger and greater than all
ideological contrasts or agreements. But here also I saw a
menace, because what should this tremendous Russian
rearmament signify at a time when Germany was impotent? I
now told the Fuehrer that in spite of this basic attitude on
Russia's part I always feared this danger and had always
recognised it, but that I was asking him rather to leave
this danger in abeyance and, if at all possible, to direct
Russia's interests against England. And indeed I told him:

  "We are at present fighting against one of the greatest
  world Powers, the British Empire. If you, my Fuehrer, are
  not of exactly the same opinion, then I have to
  contradict you, because I am definitely of the opinion
  that sooner or later the second great world Power, the
  United States, will march against us. This will not
  depend on the election of President Roosevelt, the other
  candidate will also not be able to prevent this. We will
  be in a struggle against two of the largest world Powers.
  It was your master-stroke at the beginning of the war to
  make possible a one-front war, you have always pointed
  that out; in the case of a clash with Russia at this
  time, the third great world Power would be thrown into
  the struggle against Germany. We would again stand alone,
  against practically the entire world; the other nations
  do not count. And again we would have two fronts."

And he replied:

  "I fully appreciate your arguments, I appreciate the
  Russian menace more than anybody else, but if we should
  succeed in executing our plans as prepared in the fight
  against the British Empire, and if these were only half-
  way successful, Russia would not launch her attack. Only
  if we should get ourselves deeply involved in a serious
  conflict in the West would I be of your opinion, that the
  Russian menace would increase enormously."

I was even of the opinion that the quick assent of the
Russians to the settlement of the Polish crisis was given in
order that Germany, free from that side, would be all the
more likely to get into this conflict, because thereby the
German-French-British conflict would come about, and it
would be entirely understandable as far as Russian interests
were concerned to bring about this conflict and come out of
it as well as before. I furthermore told the Fuehrer that -
according to my reports and evidence the Russian rearmament
would reach its climax in the year 1942-43 or perhaps even
in 1944. Before then we should, however, succeed, if not in
achieving a peace by victory on our part, at least in coming
to an arrangement with England. This, however, would be
possible only if decisive successes could be achieved
against England. At this time the German Air Force with all
its weight was being employed in the attack on England. If
now a new front should be formed and the troops should be
massed for the attack on Russia, a considerable part of
these forces, more than half, two-thirds, would have to be
poured into the East. For practical purposes an energetic
air attack on England would thereby cease. All the
sacrifices up to that time would be in vain, England would
be given a chance to reorganise and build up its shattered
aircraft industry in peace.

                                                  [Page 137]

Much more decisive than these considerations was the fact
that with a deployment of that kind against Russia my plan,
which I had submitted to the Fuehrer, to attack England
through Gibraltar and Suez, would have to be dropped more or
less finally. The attack on Gibraltar was so methodically
prepared by the Air Force that, according to all human
expectations, there could be no failure. The British Air
Force stationed there on the small air field North of the
Rock of Gibraltar was of no importance. The attack of my
Paratroopers on the Rock would have been a success. The
simultaneous occupation of the other side, the African side,
and a subsequent push on Casablanca and Dakar, would at
least be a safeguard against America's intervention, a
campaign, such as later took place in North Africa. To what
extent beyond this, by agreement, the islands of Cape Verde
could still be used was an open question. It is obvious what
it would have meant to be stationed with aeroplanes and
submarines on North African bases and to attack all the
convoys coming up from Cape Town and South America from such
favourable positions. But if the Mediterranean was closed in
the West it would not be difficult, by pushing across
Tripoli, to bring the Suez project to a conclusion, the time
and success of which could be calculated in advance.

The elimination of the Mediterranean as a theatre of war,
the key point Gibraltar - North Africa down to Dakar - Suez,
and possibly extended further South, would have required
only a few forces, a number of divisions on the one side and
a number of divisions on the other, to eliminate the entire
insecurity of the long Italian coast-line against the
possibility of attack.

I urged him to put these considerations in the foreground
and only after the conclusion of such an undertaking to
examine the further military and political situation in
regard to Russia. For, if these conditions were brought
about, we would be in a favourable position, in the case of
an intervention by the United States, because of this
flanking position. I explained to him all these reasons in
great detail and pointed out to him again and again that
here we would give up a relatively secure case for a more
insecure one and that, after securing such a position, there
would be much more prospect of coming, under certain
circumstances, to an arrangement with England at a time when
the two, both armed, would be standing opposite each other,
the one on this, the other on that side of the Channel.
These were my reasons for delaying the date, inasmuch as I
also told him that increased successes in this direction
might enable us to steer Russian preparations politically,
where possible, into other channels, against our enemies of
the moment. I emphasise, however, that the Fuehrer,
restricted by considerations of caution, at first made only
general preparations and was going to hold in reserve, as he
told me at the time, the actual attack, and that the final
decision was not taken until after the Simovic Putsch in
Yugoslavia.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

BY DR. STAHMER:

Q. The prosecution has submitted Document 376-PS, notes of
29th October, 1940, paragraph 5 of which states the
following:

  "The Fuehrer concerns himself with the prospect of a
  later war with America and with an examination of the
  occupation of the Atlantic Islands."

What can you say about this study?

A. I am very well acquainted with this document because it
has been submitted to me here. It concerns a letter which
the representative of the  Luftwaffe in the O.K.W., the then
Lieutenant-Colonel (Oberstleutnant) von Falkenstein, wrote
to the Chief of the General Staff of my Air Force. It is a
study of a

                                                  [Page 138]

reference to those points which I have just set forth, that
is, occupation of Gibraltar, North Africa and perhaps also
the Atlantic Islands - first as a combat basis against
England, our enemy at that time, and, secondly, in the event
of America entering the war, to have a better flanking
position against her convoys. But this was just a General
Staff note at this time - I had already of my own accord,
without having spoken to the Fuehrer beforehand, ceased my
military investigation of the possibility of carrying out
such an undertaking. It is, therefore, of no consequence.

Q. In this connection I have a further question. An
organisation plan for the year 1950 prepared by a Major
Kammhuber has been submitted here.

A. This question also may be answered briefly. I am familiar
with this document, for on two or three occasions it has
been mentioned by the prosecution. Consultation with an
expert General Staff officer of any one of the Powers
represented would prove immediately that this document is of
secondary value. It is simply a study by the General Staff -
namely, by the subordinate Organisation Section - in order
to work out the best scheme for a leadership organisation.
It was a question of whether one should concentrate on air
fleet or land fortifications. It was a question of whether
mixed squadrons consisting of bombers and fighters or
squadrons consisting only of bombers or of fighters should
be used, and other such questions which are always being
dealt with by the offices of the General Staff, independent
of war and peace. That such studies must, of course, be
based on certain assumptions which are in the realm of
strategic possibility must be taken for granted. In this
case the Major took as a basis the situation around or until
1950, a two-front war, which was not entirely beyond all
probability, namely, a war on the one side with England and
France in the West, and on the other side with Russia in the
East. The basic assumption was that Austria and Poland were
in our own hands, and the like. This study never reached me.
I have just become acquainted with it here. But it is of no
significance because it was made in my Ministry and by my
General Staff and was therefore also made on my orders. For
I placed such tasks within the general framework of having
the organisation, leadership and composition constantly
tested by manoeuvres and examples. This is completely
irrelevant to the political evaluation and completely out of
place in the framework of this trial.

Q. Several days ago reference was made to a speech which you
are said to have made to Air Force officers, in which you
said that you proposed to have such an Air Force as, once
the hour had struck, would fall like an avenging host on the
enemy. The opponent must have the feeling of having lost
before he ever started fighting with you. I shall have this
speech submitted to you and I would like you to tell us what
significance this had and what its purpose was.

A. This quotation has been used by the prosecution twice:
once in the beginning and the second time, the other day, in
the cross-examination of Field-Marshal Milch. This concerns
a speech which appeared in a book by me called "Speeches and
Compositions," which has already been submitted to the
Tribunal as evidence. The speech is called "Comradeship,
Fulfilment of Duty and Willingness to Sacrifice," an address
to one thousand flightlieutenants on the day they took their
oath in Berlin on 20th May, 1936.

I explained at length to thousands of young flyers here, on
the day they became commissioned officers, the concepts of
comradeship, fulfilment of duty and willingness to
sacrifice. This quotation had been completely removed from
its context. I therefore take the liberty of asking the
Tribunal's permission to read a short preceding paragraph,
so that it will be seen in the right context, and I also
request to be allowed to portray the atmosphere. Before me
stand one thousand young Right lieutenants full of hope, to
whom I now had to give the appropriate fighting spirit. That
has nothing to do with an offensive

                                                  [Page 139]

war, but the important thing was that my boys, should it
come to war, this way or that, be brave fellows and men with
a will to act. The short quotation before this one is as
follows:
  
  "I demand of you nothing impossible. I do not demand of
  you that you be model boys. I like to be generous. I
  understand that youth must have its follies, otherwise it
  would not be youth. You may have your pranks, and you
  will get your ears boxed for it. But that is not the
  decisive factor. The decisive factor is rather that you
  be honourable, decent fellows, that you be men. You can
  have your fun as much as you wish, but once you get into
  the plane you must be men, determined to smash down all
  resistance. That is what I demand of you, brave, daring
  fellows."

Then comes the paragraph which has just been read. I have
visions of possessing a weapon which shall come like an
avenging host against the foe. That has nothing to do with
vengeance, for "an avenging host" is a terminus technicus, a
usual term, in Germany. I might just as well have said that
the opponent would use another word to express the same
thing. I shall not read any further here, for these words,
if I were to read them, would be readily understandable; one
has to realise to whom I was speaking.

Q. To what extent did you assist in the economic and
military preparation of the Case "Barbarossa"?

A. As Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force I naturally took
all the measures which are necessary in the purely military
field for the preparation of such a campaign. I made the
obvious military preparations which are always necessary in
connection with a new strategic deployment, and which every
officer was in duty bound to carry out, and for which the
officers of the air corps received their command from me. I
do not believe that the High Tribunal would be interested in
the details as to how I carried out the deployment of my air
fleet. The decisive thing at the time of the first attacks
was, as before, to smash the enemy air arm with full force
as the main objective. Independent of the purely military
preparations, which were a matter of duty, economic
preparations seemed necessary according to our experiences
in the previous war with Poland and in the war in the West;
doubly necessary in the case of Russia, for here we
encountered a completely different form of economic life
from that in the other countries on the Continent. For here
it was a matter of State economy and State ownership; there
was no private economy or private ownership worth
mentioning. That I was charged with this was again a matter
of course resulting from the fact that I, as Plenipotentiary
for the Four-Year Plan, directed the whole economy and
provided the necessary instructions. I had, therefore,
instructed the War Economy Staff to formulate a general
economic plan for the invasion, in consultation with
economic experts on Russia, especially since we had to
expect that an advance into Russia, according to long-
established procedure, would destroy large parts of its
economy. The result of these prepared economic mobilisation
studies was the so-called Green Portfolio. I am of the
opinion that in every future war, as in past wars on other
sides, there must always be an economic mobilisation besides
a military and political mobilisation; otherwise we would
get into very unpleasant situations.

The Green Portfolio has been cited repeatedly, and also
quotations have been taken out of their context. In order to
save time I do not wish to read further passages from this
Green Portfolio. That can perhaps be done when documentary
evidence is given. But if I were to read the whole Green
Portfolio from beginning to end, from A to Z, the Tribunal
would see that this is a very useful and suitable work
project, which can be worked out only in this way for armed
forces which have advanced into a territory with a
completely different economic structure. This Green
Portfolio contains much positive

                                                  [Page 140]

material and contains here and there a sentence which, cited
alone, as has been done, gives a false picture. It provides
for everything, among other things for compensation. If an
economy is in the possession of a State at the moment when
one enters into a state of war with it, and if one then
gains possession of this economy, one is interested in
carrying out this economy only in so far, of course, as the
interests of one's own war needs are concerned - this goes
without saying. But in order to save time I shall dispense
with the reading of those pages which would exonerate me
considerably for, on the whole, I am stating, as it is, that
our laying of claims to the Russian State economy after the
conquest of these territories, for German purposes, was just
as natural and just as much a matter of duty for us as it
was for Russia at the moment when she occupied German
territories, but with this difference, that we did not
dismantle and transport the entire Russian economy down to
the last bolt and screw, as is being done here. These are
measures which result from the conduct of war. I naturally
take complete responsibility for this.

Q. A notice for the files has been submitted as Document
2718-PS, and this reads as follows:

  "Notices for the files concerning the result of to-day's
  conference with the State Secretaries in regard to
  'Barbarossa.'
  
  1. The war is to be continued further only if the entire
  Armed Forces can be supplied food by Russia in the third
  year of war.
  
  2. Five million people will hereby doubtless starve if we
  take from this country that which is needed by us."

Were you informed of the subject of this conference with the
State Secretaries and of this notice?

A. I became familiar with this document only when it was
submitted to me here. This is a rather unreliable document.
We cannot tell clearly just who was present, where this was
discussed and who was responsible for the nonsense that is
expressed therein. It is a matter of course that, within the
framework of all the conferences of official experts, many
things were discussed which proved to be absolute nonsense.

First of all the German Armed Forces would have been fed,
even if there had been no war with Russia. Therefore it was
not the case, as one might conclude from this, that, in
order to feed the German Armed Forces, we had to attack
Russia. Before the attack on Russia the German Army was fed
and it would have been fed thereafter. But if we had to
march and advance into Russia it was a matter of course that
the Army would always and everywhere be fed from that
territory.

The feeding of several millions of people, that is, two or
three, if I figure the entire  troop deployment in Russia
with all its appendages, cannot possibly result in the
starvation of many, many millions on the other side. It is
impossible for the soldier on one side to eat so much that
on the other side there is not enough left for three times
that number. The fact is that the population also does not
starve. However, famine had become a possibility, not
because the German Army was to be fed from Russia, but
because of the destruction or the sending back by the
Russians of all agricultural implements, and of the entire
seed stocks. It was first of all impossible to bring the
harvest, which had been partly destroyed by the retreating
Russian troops, in from the fields to any extent even
approximating that necessary, because of inadequate
implements; and the fields could not be tended for the
spring and autumn crops due to the lack of implements and
seeds.

If this crisis was met, it was not because the Russian
troops had destroyed or removed everything, but because
Germany had to draw heavily on her own stocks. Tractors,
agricultural machines, scythes and other things had to be
procured, even seeds, so that for the time being the troops
were not fed by the

                                                  [Page 141]

country, but food had to be sent from Germany - and in
addition to this even straw and hay. Only through the
greatest efforts of organisation and administration and in
co-operation with the local population could a balance
gradually be achieved in the agricultural sector, and also a
surplus for the German territories.

As far as I know a famine occurred only in Leningrad, as has
also been mentioned here.

Leningrad was a fortress which was being besieged. In the
history of war I have likewise, up till now, found no
evidence that the besieger generously supplies the besieged
with food in order that they can resist longer; rather, I
know only of evidence in the history of wars that the
besiegers do everything to force the surrender of the
fortress by cutting off the food supply. Neither from the
point of view of International Law nor from the point of
view of the military conduct of war were we under any
obligation to provide besieged fortresses and cities with
food.


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