The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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  Hitler turned angrily to me and said excitedly:

     'I have already issued one order that bomber crews
     which bale out are not to be protected against the
     population. These people only murder German women and
     children. It is unheard of that German soldiers should
     take measures to protect these against our own
     population, which is acting from motives of justifiable
     hate. Why are my orders not carried out?'

  Surprised by this attack I replied something like this:

     'I know nothing about any such order; and it would in
     any case be a practical impossibility.'

  Hitler turned to me and said very loudly and sharply:

     'The reason why my orders are not carried out is only
     the cowardice of the Luftwaffe, because the gentlemen
     of the Luftwaffe are cowards and are afraid that
     something might happen to them too. The whole thing is
     nothing more than a cowardly pact between the Luftwaffe
     and the British and American airmen.'

  Hitler turned then also to Kaltenbrunner, who happened to
  be present in the background, and went on, addressing
  him, but sometimes not looking at him .

     'I hereby order that all bomber crews who baled out in
     the last few months, as well as all bomber crews baling
     out in future, are to be turned over immediately by the
     Luftwaffe to the SD and are to be liquidated by them.
     Anyone failing to carry out my orders or taking action
     against the population is liable to the death penalty
     and is to be shot.'

  Hitler then further expressed in general terms his
  indignation and his views on the matter. The assembled
  officers gave an impression of general surprise and
  After the Fuehrer's entourage had left, I requested an
  interview with Kaltenbrunner in the passage. Essential

     Koller: 'It is impossible to carry out those orders.
     The Luftwaffe will have nothing more to do with them, I
     myself in no circumstances whatsoever and I can say as
     much for the Reichsmarschall. It is entirely out of the
     question that the Luftwaffe will agree to this in any
     shape or form.'
     Kaltenbrunner: 'The Fuehrer has completely mistaken
     ideas. The duties of the SD are also constantly
     misunderstood. Those things are no concern of the SD.
     Moreover, no German soldier would do what the Fuehrer
     demands, it is not in his line. He does not kill
     prisoners; if individual fanatical party followers of
     Herr Bormann try to do so, the German soldier
     intervenes. The Fuehrer has a completely false idea of
     the views held by our soldiers. Moreover, I myself will
     do nothing in the matter either. I have no intention of
     doing anything. We must just see how we can get out of
     it, otherwise we will be the first to go. We must gain
     time. I am leaving Berlin again at once for a fairly
     long time anyway.'
     Koller: 'Then we are agreed on the main point. Your
     leaving Berlin is favourable. But we must have another
     way out as far as the Fuehrer is concerned, for it is
     possible that he may again refer to his order tomorrow.
     Later on, if it goes to extremes, we will have to see
     how we can put a stop to the business, or what is going
     to happen to us?'

                                                   [Page 50]
  The following was decided at my suggestion: no order on
  the lines decreed by the Fuehrer would be issued by the
  Luftwaffe or the SD. Surrenders to the SD - none. In case
  the Fuehrer should refer to his order again, then, first
  of all, prevent further action through explanations of
  the following kind
  All members of air crews previously captured not in the
  hands of the Luftwaffe, but dispersed under the control
  of the Replacement Army Commander (BdE); time of capture
  not known to a central office. It would therefore be a
  lengthy and difficult process to determine the number of
  air personnel captured during the last few months. Also,
  preparations must be made in detail for getting them out
  without attracting attention. The newly captured crews go
  automatically, to interrogation centres. Those are in
  process of transfer owing to operations. Liaison is bad.
  Therefore, detailed discussions and agreements with the
  SD are necessary. In order to preserve the appearance of
  discussion, the Ic officer of the High Command of the
  Luftwaffe (Ic des OKL) should go to a delegate of
  Kaltenbrunner, who, however, would first have to be
  After the Fuehrer's conference, I spoke to Field-Marshal
  Keitel in the entrance of the air raid shelter and said:
  'The Fuehrer's order is insane ! ' (Keitel put in: 'It
  certainly is.') 'The Luftwaffe must keep its escutcheon
  clean. The order cannot be carried out. I am convinced
  that the Reichsmarschall is entirely of my opinion. To
  issue such an order - and verbally - and, moreover, with
  such threats of punishment! He must sign an order of this
  kind with his own name. It may or may not be carried out
  - but not by the Luftwaffe. Not by the SD, either. I have
  spoken to Kaltenbrunner.'
     Field-Marshal Keitel: 'He will not sign such orders
     then, and everything is always left on the shoulders of
     the OKW. But I'll be damned if I issue such an order.'
     Koller: 'The Luftwaffe cannot join in this in any
     circumstances. We will not assume such a
     Field-Marshal Keitel: 'You are right; neither can I. I
     must think over what I can do about it and how I can do

  The conversation was interrupted because Keitel was
  called to the telephone. Keitel was very indignant and
  annoyed about the Fuehrer's order.
  After refreshments in a side-room of the air raid shelter
  I had to cross the antechamber of the conference room
  again to reach the cloakroom and exit. Hitler happened to
  come out of the room to give an order to an orderly; and
  he called me as I was passing. The door leading to the
  conference room was open and Ley was sitting at the
  Hitler said to me:

     'I must come back to my order once more. You must all
     help me, for matters cannot go on like this any longer.
     The Luftwaffe, or at least the Reich Defence
     Organization, has failed. What am I to do against the
     frightful bombing terror which is murdering only German
     women and children?'
     Koller: 'The Air Defence and our crews do what they can
     and what is humanly possible. Our neglect of air
     armament and the enemy's present technical and
     numerical superiority cannot be eliminated or remedied
     overnight. When the searchlight units at last get
     stronger, the air situation over Germany will be more
     in our favour.'
     Hitler: 'I cannot wait for that. I can no longer be
     responsible to the German people for the continuation
     of this situation in the air. If those flyers realize
     that they will be liquidated as terrorists, they will
     think twice about flying here.'

                                                   [Page 51]

     Koller: 'That will certainly not improve the situation
     in the air. On the contrary, it will make it worse.'
     Hitler: 'No, the Japanese method is the best.'

  Hitler's manner was now calm again - at least in
  comparison with what it had been at the gathering. He
  appeared more approachable. Experience had shown that it
  was better to talk to him alone than in the presence of
  others. I thought it was a good opportunity to attack the
  whole problem and declared:

     'If I may state my point of view, I think that this
     will not do. Measures of this kind are in such crass
     opposition to the education, feelings and way of
     thinking of all soldiers, that they cannot be carried
     out. One cannot train soldiers on the regulations
     governing warfare and decent conduct and then order
     actions which are repulsive to everyone. You must not
     forget, my Fuehrer, that enemy airmen also carry out
     orders and do their duty just as ours do. If they are
     shot down or make forced landings, they are defenceless
     and unarmed prisoners. What would the world think of
     us? And the first thing the enemy would do would be to
     treat our air crews in the same way. That is something
     for which we cannot answer to our men and their
     relatives. All their willingness to serve and their
     discipline would collapse at one blow.'

  Up to that point the Fuehrer had not interrupted me.
  After his first glance at me he looked away again and
  seemed to be lost in thought. He had been listening;
  however, and at that point he interrupted me and said
  quietly and earnestly:

     'So the Luftwaffe is afraid after all. That is all very
     well; but I am responsible for the protection of the
     German people and have no other means except this.'

  Hitler turned away and went back into the conference
  After my arrival at the Luftwaffe Headquarters (Kurfurst)
  I told Colonel von Brauchitsch what had happened and
  ordered him to report it to the Reichsmarschall as soon
  as possible. I myself could not contact the
  Reichsmarschall at the moment. During our conversation
  Brauchitsch also expressed disapproval of the Fuehrer's
  An hour or two later the Reichsmarschall called me and
  began with the following words:

     'Tell me, has he gone quite mad now?'

   It was quite clear who was meant. I myself reported the
   principal happenings and the conversation with
   Kaltenbrunner to the Reichsmarschall again and added:

     'I will not carry out this order or anything connected
     with it. I will endeavour to handle the situation so as
     to gain time just now, in any case, and will do
     everything in my power to protect any of us from
     disastrous consequences. Perhaps after the last
     conference the Fuehrer will not refer to his order
     again, If he does, however, a very difficult situation
     will arise; and you will have to go to the Fuehrer
     yourself. What he has ordered must in no case be
     allowed to happen.'

  The Reichsmarschall expressed strong disapproval of
  Hitler's attitude and agreed with me in every point. He
  ordered me to act as I had suggested, to inform him
  immediately when necessary, and ended the interview with
  these words:

     'This is all insane and cannot be done.'

  Measures against Allied airmen on the basis of the
  above-mentioned Fuehrer order were taken neither by the
  Luftwaffe nor by the SD. This order did not become known,
  in my opinion, to the Replacement Army Command (BdE), or
  its offices, as the Replacement Army Command was not
  present at the Fuehrer's meeting and the order was not
  transmitted by the High Command of the Armed Forces

                                                   [Page 52]
  Hitler made no further reference to his order, neither to
  the Reichsmarschall nor to myself, nor to my
  representative, nor, I think, to Kaltenbrunner. To be
  sure, I never spoke to the latter again about this
  I cannot judge as to whether Hitler deliberately let
  matters drop or whether he forgot about it under the
  pressure of events.
  I know that about two or three weeks later an OKW
  directive was issued - I think a teletype - in which, as
  I recall, mention was made of the eye-witness report that
  occasioned it. It disclosed the fact that the Fuehrer had
  expressed his displeasure that German soldiers had taken
  action against their own people.
  No mention was made of the main point of Hitler's order.
  If I remember correctly, the directive was signed by
  Keitel and must be regarded as an attempt to cover
  himself as far as the Fuehrer was concerned. In my
  opinion, General Jodl had nothing to do with the affair
  at all."

Witness, as far as you were present at this meeting, is the
picture presented by General Koller correct?

A. I remember personally something like the following
expression by the Fuehrer "This comes of the fact that in
the Luftwaffe the conduct of war is based on a mutual policy
of 'Live and let live'." That was the sentence which
impressed me most strongly, which emphasises what was said -

DR. JAHRREISS: Thank you. Then I need not ask you any
further questions on this point.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Jahrreiss, we will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

Q. Witness, I assume that you can still recollect how the
offices of the Fuehrer's headquarters were furnished.

A. Yes, I can still remember.

Q. In the offices occupied by the Fuehrer the Field-Marshal,
the General and yourself, were there maps on the wall?

A. Yes, and also in East Prussia - particularly the
Headquarters - the Fuehrer had a topographic map of Germany
as well as a political map of Europe, and there were similar
maps in the various other rooms.

Q. Were maps of Germany hanging there too?

A. Yes.

Q. And the neighbouring territories on which concentration
camps and penal institutions were indicated with a red or
blue ring?

A. No. Neither in the Headquarters in East Prussia nor in
the Reich Chancellery in Berlin nor at the Berghof in
Berchtesgaden have I ever seen such a map.

Q. At 12.30 midday on 11th May, 1946, the Munich radio
station broadcast a letter from a painter asserting that he
had seen maps in the Fuehrer's Headquarters which could only
be intended to show the location of concentration camps. Is
that possible?

A. That is quite out of the question.

Q. Was there any more detailed statement about -

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think we need go into the broadcast
from Munich. We have no evidence of a broadcast from Munich.

DR. JAHRREISS: I am afraid I was misunderstood. I did not
ask him whether he heard it, but I wanted to illustrate how
the public had come to believe that there were such maps.
Thank you, I have no further question.

THE PRESIDENT: What I was pointing out was that it ought not
to be referred to, as it is not in evidence. The fact which
you alleged, that there was a broadcast, ought not to be
referred to.

                                                   [Page 53]

BY DR. STAHMER (counsel for the defendant Goering):

Q. Major Buchs, during the time you spent as commanding
officer attached to Fuehrer Headquarters were you regularly
present at the daily discussions of the situation?

A. Yes, I participated in the daily military situation

Q. Do you still remember whether you attended the situation
conference of 27th January, 1945, at which the fate of the
10,000 air force officers imprisoned in the Sagan camp was

A. I can remember something like this: Fegelein must have
raised the question of evacuating that camp on the approach
of the Russian troops. These captured officers were asked
whether they wished to remain in the camp and be handed over
to the Russian Army, or whether they wanted to be taken away
in the course of the evacuation of Silesia. As far as I
remember, they definitely decided on the latter alternative,
that is to say, to be taken away; and I believe that the
only question still to be decided was how their transport
was to be arranged.

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