The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/19

Q. In what way?

A. This undertaking took place in the autumn of 1943, in the
region of Idrizza Polotsk. I first flew to the Central Army
Group and talked these matters over with my then chief,
General Krebs. Then I went on to the Army Group North, and
discussed the same matters with Field Marshal Kuchler.
Kuchler had concentrated all the troops of the S.S. Police
or of the rear areas in a so-called corps under the command
of Jacklin. The same thing had been done by the Central Army
Group; a corps had been set up under the command of the
Higher Police Officer in the Group. I was in charge of them
and had, as liaison officer, Colonel von Mellentin from the
O.K.H. Then I conducted the enterprise personally. In the
meantime, the front had been broken through in the Nebe
Sector and I came to the independent decision to turn
against the Red Army where it had broken through; thus I was
with my unit in the first line.

Q. You said a little while ago that you had been decorated
with the Knight's Cross. Did you receive this decoration for
this undertaking?

A. No, as I said before, I was already in the year 1941 in
the front line service. Again and again I was with fighting
units. In 1941 in front of Moscow, in 1942 at Veliki-Luki
and later at the uprising in Warsaw. From 1944 on I led an
S.S. Corps.

Q. Did you not know that you were particularly praised by
Hitler and Himmler, mainly for your ruthless and efficient
fighting of Partisans?

A. No, I received no decoration for my fighting of
Partisans. I received all my decorations when in the
Wehrmacht, and for my services at the front line.

Q. Was the Brigade Dirlewanger an S.S. Brigade?

                                                   [Page 36]

A. The Brigade Dirlewanger did not belong to the Waffen S.S.
It was an organisation which at best could be classified as
Allgemeine S.S. With respect to supplies it was not placed
under the Waffen S. S. but under the " Amt Berger."

Q. Was the Commander of the Brigade Dirlewanger a member of
the S.S.?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you yourself suggest that criminals should be
organised and used for the fighting of Partisans?

A. No.

DR. THOMA (Counsel for defendant Rosenberg):

Q. Witness, do you know that the Civil Government in White
Ruthenia often protested against the manner in which the
anti-Partisan activities were carried on?

A. Yes.

Q. The Civil Authority was subordinate to the Reich
Kommissar, and he in turn was subordinate to Rosenberg who
was Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories?

A. Yes.

Q. If I understood you correctly, you objected to the way in
which the fight against Partisans was carried on, a way
which involved many innocent people, and was not in
agreement with Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler's orders?

A. Yes.

Q. How can you reconcile it with your conscience to organise
Einsatz Groups although you were in charge of the anti-
Partisan warfare?

THE PRESIDENT: The question had not come through then on the
interpreter's voice before you began to answer. You must
give greater pauses between the question and answer.

Q. How did you reconcile it with your conscience to remain
an inspector of the anti-Partisan forces?

A. I did not reconcile that with my conscience. But I
actually strove to obtain this position because, in the
years 1941 and 1942 I saw, as did Schenkendorff, that things
could not continue as they were. General Schenkendorff, my
immediate superior, recommended me for the position.

Q. But you knew that you could achieve nothing with these
suggestions?

A. No, I could not know that. I did not know at that time
what I know to-day.

Q. At any rate, you did not achieve anything?

A. That is not my fault. My opinion is that if someone else
had been in that position, many more misfortunes would have
occurred.

Q. Do you believe that Himmler's speech, in which he
demanded the extermination of thirty million Slavs,
expressed only his personal opinion, or do you consider that
it was part of the National Socialist attitude towards life?

A. To-day I am of the opinion that this was the logical
consequence of our attitude towards life.

Q. To-day?

A. To-day.

Q. What was your own opinion at that time?

A. It is difficult for a German to arrive at this
conclusion. It took me a long time.

Q. Then how is it that a few days ago a witness appeared in
this Tribunal, namely Oblendorf, who admitted that the
Einsatz Group murdered ninety thousand people, and informed
the Court that this did not harmonise with the National
Socialist ideology?

A. I am of the opinion that if, for decades, a doctrine is
preached to the effect that the Slav race is an inferior
race, and Jews not even human at all, then such an explosion
is inevitable.

Q. Nevertheless the fact remains that, together with
whatever attitude you may have bad at the time, you also had
a conscience?

                                                   [Page 37]

A. To-day also, and that is the reason why I am here.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, are you cross-examining on behalf
of some other defendant, or what?

DR. EXNER (Counsel for defendant Jodl): I should like to ask
two questions, which my client considered important and
which he put to me during the recess.

THE PRESIDENT: You have already cross-examined, have you
not?

DR. EXNER: Yes, but I now have three new questions. We were
not able to prepare ourselves for this cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Go on.

FURTHER CROSS-EXAMINATION By DR. EXNER

Q. Witness, you said an order was issued in the year 1944
regarding the Partisan warfare. During the recess, I read in
the document book provided us by the prosecution, under 1786-
PS, and there I found a regulation mentioned regarding
Partisan warfare, of 27th November, 1942. Do you know
anything about this?

A. No.

Q. But it must exist, since it is mentioned to me here. Do
you not know about it?

A. No.

Q. Please tell me whether you know of a Russian regulation
regarding Partisans?

A. Yes.

Q. Could you tell us something of the contents of this
regulation?

A. I can no longer recall.

Q. Do you know where this regulation is to be found?

A. No.

DR. EXNER: Thank you.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): One moment! Do you know how many
members of the Wehrmacht were used at any one time in this
anti-Partisan activity? What was the largest number of the
troops?

THE WITNESS: Large undertakings were involved, that is to
say, undertakings of the strength of one division upwards. I
believe that the largest number might have been as much as
three divisions.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): I mean all the troops on the
Eastern Front, at any one time used in these anti-Partisan
activities?

THE WITNESS: I cannot answer that, because these troops were
never under my direction at one time, they were there with
individual operations simultaneously and continually; large
and small operations. Reports of these activities came in
every day.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): Do you know how many Einsatz
groups were used?

THE WITNESS: I know of three, one for each Army Group.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to re-examine?

COLONEL TAYLOR: No, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness may go.

(The witness withdrew.)

COLONEL TAYLOR: Your Lordship, that concludes the evidence
under Counts 3 and 4 of the Indictment and I have only a few
more words by way of general conclusion.

I ask the Tribunal to bear in mind that the German High
Command is not an evanescent thing, the creature of a decade
of unrest, or a school of thought or tradition which is
shattered and utterly discredited. The German High Command
and military tradition have in the past achieved victory and
survived

                                                   [Page 38]

defeat. They have met with triumph and disaster, and they
have survived through a singular durability.

An eminent American statesman and diplomat, Mr. Sumner
Welles, has written, and I quote from his book "The Time for
Decision," Page 261:

   ". . . that the authority to which the German people
   have so often and so  disastrously responded was not in
   reality the German Emperor of yesterday, or the Hitler
   of today, but the German General Staff. Whether their
   ostensible ruler is the Kaiser, or Hindenburg, or Adolf
   Hitler, the continuing loyalty of the bulk of the
   population is given to that military force controlled
   and guided by the German General Staff."

I think that this emphasises the historical importance of
the decision which this Tribunal is called upon to make. But
we are not now indicting the German General Staff at the bar
of history, but on specific charges of Crimes against
International Law and the dictates of the conscience of
mankind, as embodied in the Charter, which governs this
Court.

The picture we have seen is that of a group of men with
great power for good or ill, who chose the latter; who
deliberately set out to arm Germany to the point where the
German will could be imposed on the rest of the world, and
who gladly joined with the most evil forces at work in
Germany. "Hitler produced the results which all of us warmly
desired," we are told by Blomberg and Blaskowitz, and that
is obviously the truth. The converse is no less clear; the
military leaders furnished Hitler with the means and might
which were necessary to his survival, to say nothing of the
accomplishment of those purposes which seemed to us so
ludicrously impossible in 1932 and so fearfully imminent in
1942.

I have said that the German militarists were inept as well
as persistent. Helpless as Hitler would have been without
them, he succeeded in mastering them. The Generals and the
Nazis were allies in 1933. But it was not enough for the
Nazis that the Generals should be voluntary allies; Hitler
wanted them permanently and completely under his control.
Devoid of political skill or principle, the Generals lacked
the mentality or morality to resist. On the day of the death
of President Hindenburg in August, 1934, the German officers
swore a new oath. Their previous oath had been to the
Fatherland; now it was to a man, Adolf Hitler. It was not
until a year later that the Nazi emblem became part of their
uniform, and the Nazi flag their standard. By a clever
process of infiltration into key positions, Hitler seized
control of the entire military machine.

We will no doubt hear the Generals ask what they could have
done about it. We will hear that they were helpless, and
that to protect their jobs and families and lives, they had
to follow Hitler's decisions. No doubt this became true, but
the Generals were a key factor in Hitler's rise to complete
power and a partner in his criminal aggressive designs. It
is always difficult and dangerous to withdraw from a
criminal conspiracy. Never has it been suggested that a
conspirator may claim mercy on the ground that his fellow
conspirators threatened him with harm, should he withdraw
from the plot.

In many respects the spectacle which the German General
Staff and High Command group presents today, is the most
degrading of all the groups and organisations before this
court. They are the bearers of a tradition, the bearers of a
tradition not devoid of valour and honour; they emerge from
this war stained both by criminality and ineptitude.
Attracted by the militaristic and aggressive Nazi policies,
the German Generals found themselves drawn into adventures
of a scope they had not foreseen. From crimes in which
almost all of them participated willingly and approvingly,
were born others in which they participated partly because
they were too ineffective to alter the governing Nazi
policies, and partly because they had to continue
collaboration to save their own skins.

                                                   [Page 39]


Having joined the partnership, the General Staff and the
High Command group planned and carried through manifold acts
of aggression which turned Europe into a charnel-house, and
caused the Armed Forces to be used for foul practices,
foully executed, of terror, pillage and wholesale slaughter.
Let no one be heard to say that the military uniform shall
be their cloak, or that they may find sanctuary by pleading
membership in the profession to which they are an eternal
disgrace.

COLONEL STOREY: If the Tribunal please, the next subject
will be the presentation of supplemental evidence concerning
the persecution of the Churches, as presented by Colonel
Wheeler.

COLONEL LEONARD WHEELER, JR.: The material now to be
submitted comprises, first, supplemental proof on the
suppression of the churches within Germany - the Evangelical
Churches, the Catholic Church and the Bibelforscher, or
Bible Researchers; and second, acts of suppression in the
annexed and occupied territories - Austria, Czechoslovakia
and Poland. A large part of this proof will be from the
official files of the Vatican.

I now submit to the Court United States trial brief "H"-
Supplemental" on "Suppression of the Christian Churches in
Germany and in the Occupied Territories," and Document Book
"H-Supplemental," containing English translations of all the
documents referred to in the supplemental brief, or to be
referred to in my oral presentation. I shall take up first
the supplemental proof on the suppression of the Churches in
Germany.

Hitler announced, in March, 1933, a distinction in his
policy toward politics and morals, on the one hand, and
religion on the other. I offer in evidence Document 3387-PS,
Exhibit USA 565. It is a speech by Hitler to the Reichstag
on 23rd March, 1933, quoted in the "Volkischer Beobachter,"
24th March, 1933, Page one, column 5, of the German
newspaper. I quote from this speech:

   "Inasmuch as the Government is determined to carry out a
   political and moral purge of our public life, it thereby
   creates and guarantees the foundation of a true and
   religious life. The Government sees in both Christian
   denominations the most important factors for the
   maintenance of our Folkdom. It will respect agreements
   concluded between them and the other States. It expects,
   however, that its participation shall meet with the same
   respect as it has afforded to all the other responsible
   denominations. But it will never permit that membership
   in any one denomination, or the fact of belonging to any
   one race, should be considered as a free pass for the
   commission or toleration of crime. The Government will
   devote itself to the maintenance of sincere good-
   fellowship between Church and State."


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