The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified:-- 1997/10/09

The Navy regulations regarding prisoners of war remain in
force for all but Soviet prisoners, and where the Soviet
prisoners were concerned:--

     "The regulations of the O.K.W." Section for
     Prisoners of War which I have already mentioned
     remain in force."
Thus, whenever this subject arises, absolute agreement
exists between the Party Leaders and the O.K.W.

I stress the circumstance and I would remind you that all
this happened in the country whose representative had
declared as far back as 1902:--

     "The only purpose in capturing prisoners of war is
     to prevent their further participation in the war.
     Although prisoners of war lose their freedom, they
     do not lose their rights. In other words,
     captivity is not an act of mercy on the part of
     the conqueror. It is the right of the disarmed
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, we have had that document
read to us more than once.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I am not re-reading it. I am merely
recalling its contents.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you must give the Tribunal credit for
some recollection. As I say, that document has been read
more than once before.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: We have at our disposal an official note
signed by Lammers. This document is registered as 073-PS. We
submit it to the Tribunal

                                                   [Page 11]
as Exhibit USSR361 -- it has not yet been read into the
record. The document states (you will find this excerpt on
Page 191 of your document book):--

     "1. Prisoners of war are foreigners....
     Influencing them is the task of the Propaganda
     Ministry of the Foreign Office."
I omit a few sentences.

     "Excepted from this ruling are the Soviet
     prisoners who are placed under the control of the
     Reich Minister for the Occupied Territories of the
     East because the Geneva Convention is not valid
     for them and because they have a special political

In this connection, I wish to submit to you, as Exhibit USSR
356, another German document.

It consists of notes composed at the Headquarters of the
Foreign Counterintelligence Office on the 15th November,
1941, for the "O.K.W. Chief of Staff." I will read into the
record a few extracts, of which you will find the opening
lines on Page 192 of your document book.

     "The Geneva Convention regarding prisoners of war
     does not apply as between Germany and the USSR.
     Therefore, the only rules in force are the
     principles of general International Law regarding
     the treatment of prisoners of war, which since the
     18th century have so developed that war captivity
     represented neither revenge nor punishment, but a
     security measure, the sole object of which was to
     prevent prisoners from further participating in
     the war. This principle developed in connection
     with the prevalent opinion that, from a military
     standpoint, the killing or wounding of prisoners
     was inadmissible. In addition, it is to the
     interest of each belligerent to be assured against
     ill-treatment of its soldiers in case of their
     capture. Appendix I states the directives, based
     on different premises as can be seen at the
     beginning of this paragraph, concerning the
     treatment of Soviet prisoners of war."

To save time I will omit several sentences and will read the
end of the paragraph into the record:--

     "...and, in addition, eliminated much which from
     past experience was considered not only as useful
     from a military viewpoint but as indispensable to
     the maintenance of discipline and high striking
The orders are drawn up in very general terms. But, if we
bear in mind the ruling basic tendency, it is clear that the
"measures" permitted by these orders are bound to result in
wanton and unpunished murder, even though, officially, the
law of violence had been abolished.

This is obvious from the directive regarding the use of
weapons by guards and their commanding officers on such
recalcitrant prisoners who spoke a language the guards could
not understand. Whether the prisoners' disobedience was due
to recalcitrance or to a misunderstanding of the orders
issued could in many cases not be established. The fact that
the basic directive justified the use of arms against the
Soviet prisoners as a rule absolved the guards from any
necessity of explaining their behaviour.

Omitting two paragraphs not directly relating to this
matter, I quote as follows:--

     "The organisation of camp police equipped with
     clubs, whips, and similar weapons, even in camps
     where all labour is done by the prisoners, is
     against military rule and tradition. In addition
     the military authorities thus give into other
     hands the means for applying punishment without
     providing adequate control as to how these means
     are employed."
I wish to quote one more sentence taken from Paragraph 5 of
these notes (you will find it on Page 194):--

     "Appendix II contains a translation of the Russian
     decree regarding
                                              [Page 12]
     prisoners of war which is in accord with the basic
     principles of International Law as well as with
     the rules of the Geneva Convention."
I will refrain from quoting the rest of the document as it
is of little interest. This document is signed by the Chief
of the Foreign Counter-Intelligence Service, Admiral
Canaris. It includes directives containing instructions
relating to the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war,
dwelling in detail on such sections which Canaris considered
as violations of the basic principles of International Law
and of the Geneva Convention.

I would like to supplement this document with a few excerpts
from the minutes of the interrogation by Dr. Wengler, a
former counsellor of the Foreign Judicial Section "abroad"
of the O.K.W. This document is submitted to the Tribunal as
Exhibit USSR 129. Wengler was questioned by me on 19th
December, 1945, and his testimony is important for purposes
of evaluating the line of conduct both of the O.K.W. and
Keitel himself.

DR. NELTE(Counsel for defendant Keitel): Mr. President, I
ask that the document, Exhibit USSR 129, which the Russian
prosecutor intends to read, should not be read, but that the
witness mentioned in this document, Dr. Wengler, be called
personally to testify in Court, if the Soviet prosecution is

This document is a record of an interrogation of Dr.
Wengler, who was active in Counter-Intelligence in the
O.K.W. It is a question of determining whether the non-
application of the Geneva Convention as regards Russia is
the fault of the German Government, the O.K.W., and the
Defendant Keitel. I do not need to state that the
clarification of this question is of the utmost significance
in judging the responsible persons, not only because of the
Counts in the Indictment, but because of the terrible guilt
in face of the German people, if the testimony given by this
witness should be true.

The witness was interrogated in Nuremberg on 19th December,
1945. Whether he is still here or in Berlin -- he gave his
address at the time of the inquiry -- I cannot say. But I do
believe that the Tribunal's interpretation of Article XXI of
the Charter will justify my request in this respect since,
firstly, the summoning of the witness from Berlin does not
entail great difficulties, secondly we are concerned with a
question of such tremendous significance, even in this
setting, that the personal testimony and interrogation by
this Tribunal should not be replaced by the mere lecture of
the minutes of an inquiry.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you anything you wish to say in answer
to that objection?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: With your permission I should like first
of all, in order to clarify the matter, to ask where the
witness actually is at the present moment? He is not in
Nuremberg. He was brought here especially for this
interrogation under the greatest technical difficulties. The
interrogation was conducted according to all the rules of
our judicial proceedings, so that this document could be
submitted to the Tribunal and accepted as evidence, if the
Tribunal so judges, according to Article XIX of the Charter.
All the problems concerning this subject, and which were of
interest to the Soviet prosecution, are already sufficiently
clear from this document, which we submit to you, and I see
no possibility of having this witness brought here in the
near future. Maybe the representatives of the defence
Counsel imagine that it is very easy to produce him, but I
do not see any technical possibility of bringing him here a
second time. And I repeat that, if the Tribunal does not
consider it feasible to accept this document in the suitable
manner in which we have formulated it, then we would even
agree to refrain from submitting it as evidence. We do not
consider it possible to bring the witness here a second
time. That is all I have to say in reply to this request.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you say that you could not bring the
witness here,

                                                   [Page 13]
and that as you could not bring him here you would not press
the introduction of the document?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: No, I put it differently, I said that we
insist that this document be admitted, since the Tribunal
has the right, according to Article XIX the Charter, to
accept this document as evidence. But if we were to choose
between two possibilities, either by adding this evidence to
the record or by summoning the witness a second time, the
technical obstacles which prevent us from taking the latter
course would compel us, by preference, to accept the
exclusion of this document from the record, in order to
avoid any repetition of the difficulties already
experienced. We consider that the document is quite
correctly compiled, in accordance with all the rules of the
Charter, and that the Tribunal should receive it as evidence
according to Article XIX of the Charter.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to know first of all,
why is it difficult or impossible to bring the witness to
Nuremberg in the same way that he was brought to Nuremberg
on December, 1945; and secondly, has Dr. Nelte and have the
other defendants' counsel got full copies in German of the

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Dr. Wengler was interrogated in German,
his native tongue. The original of his record, of his
interrogation, has been submitted to the Tribunal in an
adequate No. of copies, which are at the disposal of the
defence counsel.

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