The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/11/26

Keitel: It had been carried through'in the
Reichswehr. Then it disappeared again, because it was
said, how can you do such a thing, this is madness. I
was the one who said we have no rank, no lieu-

                                           [Page 711]

tenant, no captain, major, lieutenant colonel, but we
have platoon leaders, company leaders, battalion
leaders, regimental leaders.

Goering: When for instance was a general. a platoon

Keitel:I must know that. I have been organizational
chief of the Army General Staff.

Goering: What years are you speaking of?

Keitel:The years 1925-30. The mobilization orders
which were applicable to the entire Armed Forces, had
been officially introduced and recognized. There was
no longer any rank, only the rating connected with
the appointment.

Goering:That is just what I have been requesting for
2 years. But it has not been the case, that a
general, who was a general, suddenly becomes

Jodl: I would do it this way: Lt. Colonel X would be
ordered to report for active duty as a platoon

The Fuehrer: He will not be demoted. That is a
definition which suddenly was dropped in here. But
his rank in itself is dormant.

Goering: If one has -been a general, and is ordered
to report for active duty as a sergeant, then
according to the prevailing conception, he is

The Fuehrer: I cannot call him in as a general.

Goering: If he is ordered to report as platoon leader
or squad leader, that is something different.

Keitel: At that time an emergency existed and with
the giant officers corps of the world war we could
not have done otherwise.

Jodl: Such extreme cases surely would never occur.

Burgdorf: To be squad leader, one does not need to
have any leadership-personality at all.

Goering: How do you intend to change the rank? You
said yourself, as technical sergeant or sergeant.

Burgdorf: It is the numerous captains and majors,
with whom I am stuck.

Goering: You spoke of generals. But even with a
colonel it is not easy either.

Burgdorf: Even a colonel I could always use as an
officer. But the majority of them have never been

                                           [Page 712]

Goering: Right, I agree with your definition, if the
rank is taken into account.

The Fuehrer: But even then he can't run around in a
general's uniform. What kind of a company would you
have, if each company commander wears the uniform of
a lieutenant and the platoon leader the uniform of a
general, to speak in extremes. I don't know which one
is the greater degradation. On the other hand, I
can't give a unit to the general that corresponds to
his rank, when he is not capable of it. How can I
give a young volunteer division to the general, when
it is going to be destroyed through it? Maybe he was
a poor company commander in World War I, where it was
generally known, that in normal peace times he would
not have been in the position to lead a company. Then
he would have had to attend courses,' just like
nowadays. We promote many and know, that under normal
peace time conditions, they couldn't make it.

Jodl: Can't one say: Colonel X will be given the
command as a chief of a Volkssturm company
[Volkssturmkompaniechef], even though he is
transferred elsewhere?

Burgdorf:There he is subject to a different

The Fuehrer: I had people in the SA and the SS who
advanced by hard work. In the army this is
impossible. Just visualize this company in reality,
led by a capable lieutenant, who became a lieutenant;
who is able to lead it and must lead it, and
under.his command he has a couple of lieutenant
colonels or generals in their respective uniforms.
During that time the service rank must not count, the
way I see it. There is no other way.

Goering: Off duty he will keep his rank, on duty he
will not.

The Fuehrer: One thing must be avoided: that those
men who are fit for active service now don't fight at
all, because they can't hold their jobs, but the one
who is fit for limited combat duty must fight.
Nowadays I must keep in mind the psychological
moments not only in the case of officer but also of
the German people. After all this is no disgrace.

                                           [Page 713]

Goering: But that must be made clear.

Jodl: There must not be the feeling of a degradation
without guilt.

Burgdorf: Six weeks of training will be given to
them, in order to show whether they are capable or
not. I have seen the men and you yourself would say
instantly, Reiclismarshall, that fellow shouldn't be
in uniform at all. If I had to carry out thousands of
judicially interwoven degradations, I wouldn't have
even enough men, to do the work.

Goering: Then I would say immediately, out of the
armed forces and into the Home Guard [Volkssturm].

Burgdorf: There are old people in the Volkssturm.
Then a 46 year old man comes up who is fit for
combat, and who has been shirking successfully and
who has been in the West before.

Goering: You could degrade a man like that.

The Fuehrer: He also cannot command a unit. He has
never held such positions. I can't trust him with the
smallest unit.

Goering: Then in the unit itself. a number of men has
also to be taken out.

Burgdorf: In a fighting unit one can see that pretty

Fegelein: The Reichsfuehrer did it the same way. He
only said to the 19th army, I am of that opinion, and
that did it.

The Fuehrer: After all, the profession of a soldier
is a fighting profession. That must be the aim. That
must be made clear basically. Because this is an
entirely different point of view. The Fuehrer: It is
no degradation, but the rank drops during the time of
operations. If the man is capable, then he will be
reinstated into his rank within a short time. He has
a much easier time than anyone else. But some
solution must be found. One thing must be avoided:
that a military purge takes place, with the result of
a change from the military bureaucracy into civilian
idleness. I can't even use them in the labor-pool,
because in a way we have a surplus of workers. Apart
from that, people are justified in saying: This one
is fit for combat and not the other one who is sent
to the front.

                                           [Page 714]

Burgdorf: The sending of a mortar platoon to the
Reichsfuehrer in the Black Forest worked miracles in
the O.C.S. regiment. However, it didn't look so good
to the lower ranks, when a lieutenant colonel and
three lieutenants carried mortars around.

The Fuehrer: This to me is much more degrading than
the other method. The other method consists in givIng
a position to a man which corresponds to his ability
and with which I can trust him fully. Otherwise I let
him run around in his uniform and perform work, that
can be done by a common private or N.C.O.

Goering: Then one must act consequently and quick by
freezing promotions, etc.

Burgdorf :To promote unit commanders only.

Goering: Then none will stay on the staff.

Burgdorf: Privileged positions are to be had.

Keitel: We have duties, which have to be performed by
men who are really close to the front. We can't do
anything with idiots.

Burgdorf: It is much worse to take away the men who
are fit for combat.

Keitel: Would you read my order concerning the
withdrawal of men, who are fit for combat. This is
gradually becoming unbearable.

Goering: I also can't let anyone remain with the
staff, when he says: I can't be promoted while on the
staff, I must prove myself as commanding officer of
troops, I won't stay here, that you can't ask of me.
Today I can lead a company, you suspended me for one
year, now I am not able anymore to lead a unit, this
is not my fault. That is what he will say.

Burgdorf: We promote them. We take paymasters as
C.O.'s of companies and battalions, as soon as they
can do that.

The Fuehrer: I deem it worse, to assemble so called
officer's battalions these days. Because if they
fail, they leave a very bad impression. That will be
talked about in another unit. Then they are looked
upon as disciplinary battalions. In my opinion it
would be better to place them into other units. For
this would be a definite defamation.

                                           [Page 715]

Guderian: In the mortar battalion mentioned, there is
as lieutenant colonel one who was my supply leader in
Poland, France, and Russia, he was decorated, I
myself decorated him with the Iron Cross, first
class. This man was reported by one of his countrymen
from Oberdonau because of alleged remarks which he
never made, but which were said to be made before the
Anschluss; therefore he was dismissed from his
position, was placed into this mortar battalion at
Wildflecken, and as a decent, splendid lieutenant
colonel who in his case has been an outspokenly
capable and especially splendid man, he is carrying
mortars around, and he wrote me the most awful
letters that were just heartbreaking. He says: I have
been defamed without being guilty, without a logical
investigation and verification, only because of a
dirty fellow who reported me, and I don't know how to
help myself. I believe, he has not been rehabilitated

The Fuehrer: Those are cases in which at the present
we have to discharge 5/6 of our administration. It is
not a question of defamations. The administration
must be discharged, and one cannot decide that those
5/6 don't have to be soldiers anymore for the reason,
that they can't get a military command corresponding
to their rank.

Guderian: Then we must use them some place else. If a
colonel can only be used as a leader of a battalion
or company, he is going to get that rank and for the
duration of this duty he takes off his shoulder-

The Fuehrer: That is it.

Goering: But he does not become a N.C.O.

Guderian: No, he remains a colonel or general with
full pay and privileges.

Goering: Never mind the pay.

Fegelein: With the escort detachment there are a
great many captains [Hauptsturmfuehrer] who served
with the Leibstandarte in the rank of sergeants.
There were never any difficulties.

Goering: The Waffen-SS is an active formation. The
other ones are inactive. When they are serving there,
they are on reserve duty. One can be Oberpraes-

                                           [Page 716]

ident and also can be corporal. This is something
else. Not a single one will remain now in a command,
because he says, I am running this risk.

The Fuehrer: Under no circumstances would I release
these men to go home in the first place. At a time,
when I draft men up to almost 56 years, who are fit
for limited combat service, I discharge 45-year-old
ones, although they have been soldiers all the time.
That doesn't work. In the second place, it is not
plausible that I give a man, who is not able to lead
a unit, a command of a unit in spite of it.

Goering: And in the third place, I cannot say to the
man, after I have taken them on the staff and who
were able to lead a unit: Because you have been on
the staff, you won't get a unit.

The Fuehrer: If they are able to lead a unit, then
they will get it.

Goering: No, they were capable.

The Fuehrer: Then they will be there again within the
shortest time. That they must learn. This is no
disgrace. I myself had to learn it too, to be
Reiclischancellor. I used to be party leader, my own
boss, and as Reiclischancellor I was a subordinate of
the Reichspresident. For a period of time I was
Regierungsrat in Braunschweig.

Goering: But not an acting one.

The Fuehrer: Don't say that. I have been very useful
to the country.

Burgdorf: We will put them all into training courses,
to continue. their training. In addition to that we
constantly have a request to higher army authorities
to release the ones concerned to us for two months,
so that the man in question returns again. This way
he won't become a stranger.

The Fuehrer: Nowadays I can bring the born commanding
officer on any staff,-when I return him, I cannot
say, that he will skip all that. That is an
impossibility. Because they must learn an awful lot.
Anyone who is leading out there now, will confirm
that. In a few months, however, he will naturally
again prove his qualities as a leader. He will then
again have the position corresponding to his rank. if
he is the born commanding officer at

                                           [Page 717]

all, That is quite clear; it shouldn't be difficult.
Now, take the born commanding officer, he'll be that
corresponding to his rank, in no time at all.

Fegelein: The 10,000 officers and non-coms, the
British and Americans in Sagan, will march in two
hours and in formation. Besides that, there are also
1,500 men marching toward Sagan who were somewhere
near the Government General. They were offered to
remain with the Russians, because they couldn't be
transported; they declined that and offered to fight
on our side....

Hewel: They want guns.

Jodl: Should we succeed in persuading the British and
Americans to fight against the Russians, this will be
a sensation.

Hewel: But this is not confirmed yet.

The Fuehrer: Perhaps somebody said something like
that, and then it is immediately generalized. I am
suspicious to the utmost.

Fegelein: If it works, O.K., we may do so.

The Fuehrer: But not, because someone said so.

Fegelein: The 1,500 marched on foot, they did not
want to ride trucks, because they were afraid, they
would be driven to the Russians. Therefore they
marched, because they saw, that the Russians drove
into a German civilian formation. This impressed them
in such a way, that they left on foot.

Hewel: One should really let a few English officers
go over.

Jodl: They may be airplane specialists.

                               End: 18:50 o'clock.

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