Archive/File: imt/nca/nca-02/nca-02-15-criminality-07-07 Last-Modified: 1996/10/16 Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, Volume II, Chapter XV [Page 393] A final group of four affidavits show that the SD Einsatzgruppen on the Eastern Front operated under the command and with the necessary support of the Wehrmacht, and that the nature of their activities were fully known to the Wehrmacht. The first of these is a statement (3715-PS) by Ernst Rode, who was an SS Brigadefuehrer and Generalmajor of the Police, and was head of Himmler's personal command staff from 1943 to 1945: STATEMENT "I, Ernst Rode, was formerly chief of the Command Staff of the Reichsfuehrer-SS, having taken over this position in the spring of 1943 as successor to former SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Kurt Knoblauch. My last rank was General-major of Police and of the Waffen-SS. My function was to furnish forces necessary for antipartisan warfare to the higher SS and police leaders and to guarantee the support of army forces. This took place through personal discussions with the leading officers of the Operations Staff of the OKW and OKH, namely with General Warlimont, General von Buttlar, Generaloberst Guderian, Generaloberst Zeitzler, General Heusinger, later General Wenk, Colonel Graf Kielmannsegg and Colonel v. Bonin. Since anti-partisan warfare also was under -the sole command of the respective Army commander-in-chief in operational areas (for instance in the Central Army Group under Field Marshal Kluge and later Busch) and since police troops for the most part could not be spared from the Reichscommissariates, the direction of this warfare lay practically always entirely in the hands of the army. In the same way orders were issued not by Himmler but by the OKH. SS and police troops transferred to operational areas from the Reichscommissariates to support the army groups were likewise under the latter's command. Such transfers often resulted in harm to anti-partisan warfare in the Reichscommissariates. According to a specific agreement between Himmler and the OKH, the direction of individual operations lay in the hands of the troop leader who commanded the largest troop contingent. It was therefore possible that an army general could have SS and police under him, and on the other hand that army troops could be placed under a [Page 394] general of the SS and police. Anti--partisan warfare in operational areas could never be ordered by Himmler. I could merely request the OKH to order it, until 1944 mostly through the intervention of Generalquartiermeister Wagner or through State Secretary Ganzenmueller. The OKH then issued corresponding orders to the army groups concerned, for compliance. "The severity and cruelty with which the intrinsically diabolical partisan warfare was conducted by the Russians had already resulted in Draconian laws being issued by Hitler for its conduct. These orders, which were passed on to the troops through the OKW and OKH, were equally applicable to army troops as well as to those of the SS and police. There was absolutely no difference in the manner in which these two components carried on this warfare. Army soldiers were exactly as embittered against the enemy as those of the SS and police. As a result of this embitterment orders were ruthlessly carried out by both components, a thing which was also quite in keeping with Himmler's desires or intentions. As proof of this the order of the OKW and OKH can be adduced, which directed that all captured partisans, for instance such as Jews, agents and political commissars, should without delay be handed over by the troops to the SD for special treatment. This order also contained the provision that in anti-partisan warfare no prisoners except the above named be taken. That anti-partisan warfare was carried on by army troops mercilessly and to every extreme I know as the result of discussions with army troop leaders, for instance with General Herzog, Commander of the XXXVIII Army Corps and with his chief of staff, Colonel Pamberg in the General Staff, both of whom support my opinion. Today it is clear to me that anti- partisan warfare gradually became an excuse for the systematic annihilation of Jewry and Slavism. "(Signed) Ernst Rode" (715-PS) Another and shorter statement by Rode reads: "As far as I know, the SD Combat Groups with the individual army groups were completely subordinate to them, that is to say tactically as well as in every other way. The commanders-in-chief were therefore thoroughly cognizant of the missions and operational methods of these units. They approved of these missions and operational methods because apparently they never opposed them. The fact that prisoners, such is Jews, agents and commissars, who were handed over to the SD underwent the same cruel death, as victims of so- [Page 395] called 'purifications,' is a proof that the executions had their approval. This also corresponded with what the highest political and military authorities wanted. Frequent mention of these methods were naturally made in my presence at the OKW and OKH, and they were condemned by most SS and police officers, just as they were condemned by most army officers. On such occasions I always pointed out that it would have been quite within the scope of the authority of the commanders-in- chief of army groups to oppose such methods. I am of the firm conviction that an energetic and unified protest by all field marshals would have resulted in a change of these missions and methods. If they should ever assert that they would then have been succeeded by even more ruthless commanders-in-chief, this, in my opinion, would be a foolish and even cowardly dodge. "(Signed) Ernst Rode" (3716-PS) In an affidavit by Colonel Bogislav von Bonin, who at the beginning of the Russian campaign was a staff officer with the 17th Panzer Division, the following statement is made: "At the beginning of the Russian campaign I was the first General Staff officer of the 17th Panzer Division which had the mission of driving across the Bug north of Brest-Litovsk. Shortly before the beginning of the attack my division received through channels from the OKW a written order of the Fuehrer. This order directed that Russian commissars be shot upon capture, without judicial process, immediately and ruthlessly. This order extended to all units of the Eastern Army. Although the order was supposed to be relayed to companies, the Commanding General of the XXXVII Panzer Corps (General of Panzer Troops Lemelsen) forbade its being passed on to the troops because it appeared unacceptable to him from military and moral points of view. "(Signed) Bogislav v. Bonin "Colonel" (3718-PS) Finally an affidavit (3717-PS) by Heusinger, who was a Generalleutnant in the German Army, and who from 1940 to 1944 was Chief of the Operations Section at OKH, states as follows: "1. From the beginning of the war in 1939 until autumn 1940 I was Ia of the Operations Section of the OH, and from autumn 1940 until 20 July 1944 I was chief of that section. "When Hitler took over supreme command of the Army, he gave to the chief of the General Staff of the Army the function of advising him on all operational matters in the Russian theater. [Page 396] "This made the chief of the General Staff of the Army responsible for all matters in the operational areas in the east, while the OKW was responsible for all matters outside the operational areas, for instance, all troops (security units, SS units, police) stationed in the Reichscommissariates. "All police and SS units in the Reichscommissariates were also subordinate to the Reichsfuehrer-SS. When it was necessary to transfer such units into operational areas, this had to be done by order of the chief of the OKW. On the other hand, corresponding transfers from the front to the rear were ordered by the OKW with the concurrence of the chief of the General Staff of the Army. "The high SS and police leaders normally had command of operations against partisans. If stronger army units were committed together with the SS and police units within operational areas, a high commander of the army could be designated commander of the operation. "During anti-partisan operations within operational areas all forces committed for these operations were under the command of the respective commander-in-chief of the army group. "2. Directives as to the manner and methods of carrying on counter-partisan operations were issued by the OKW (Keitel) to the OKH upon orders from Hitler and after consultation with Himmler. The OKH was responsible merely for the transmission of these orders to army groups, for instance such orders as those concerning the treatment to be accorded to commissars and communists, those concerning the manner of prosecuting by courts martial army personnel who had committed offenses against- the population, as well as those establishing the basic principles governing reprisals against the inhabitants. "3. The detailed working out of all matters involving the treatment of the local populace as well as anti- partisan warfare in operational areas, in pursuance of orders from the OKW, was the responsibility of the Generalquartiermeister of the OKH. "4. It had always been my personal opinion that the treatment of the civilian population and the methods of anti-partisan warfare in operational areas presented the highest political and military leaders with a welcomed opportunity of carrying out their plans, namely the systematic extermination of Slavism and Jewry. Entirely independent of this, I always regarded these cruel methods as military insanity, be- [Page 397] cause they only helped to make combat against the enemy unnecessarily more difficult. "(Signed) Heusinger "Generalleutnant." (3717-PS) (At this point, Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski was called upon for oral testimony. His testimony on direct examination was substantially to the same effect as his affidavit 3712-PS.) (c) Responsibility of the Group for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: Counts and 4 of the Indictment. The foregoing evidence against the General Staff and High Command Group is such that no German soldier can view it with anything but shame. The German High Command developed and applied a policy of terror against commandos and paratroopers, in violation of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, on the Western Front. On the Eastern Front it descended to savagery. In advance of the attack against the Soviet Union, the High Command ordered the troops to take "ruthless action", left it to the discretion of any officer to decide whether suspected civilians should be immediately shot, and empowered any officer with the powers of a Battalion Commander to take "collective despotic measures" against localities. Offenses committed against civilians by German soldiers, ever, were not required to be prosecuted, and prosecution was suggested only where desirable in order to maintain discipline and security from a military standpoint. Soon after the invasion of the Soviet Union, German troops were told by the OKW that "a human life in unsettled countries frequently counts for nothing" and were encouraged to observe punitive ratio of 50 to 100 Communists for one German soldier. German troops were told that they were to take "revenge on subhuman Jewry" and that they were not merely soldiers but "bearers of ruthless national ideology and avengers of bestialities". The High Command and the chief lieutenants of Himmler jointly planned the establishment of the Einsatzgruppen, the behavior of which has been shown in detail. These groups when in operational areas were under the command of the German Army, and an soldiers joined in their savagery. The Einsatzgruppen were completely dependent upon the Armed Forces for supplies which to carry out their atrocities. The practices employed against the civilian population and against partisans were well known to all high ranking German officers on the Eastern Front. No doubt some of them disapproved of what was going on. Nonetheless, the full support of the military leaders continued to be given to these activities. The record is clear that the General Staff and High Command [Page 398] Group, including the defendants, who were members of the Group and numerous other members ordered, directed, and participated in war crimes and crimes against humanity as specified in counts 3 and 4 of the Indictment.
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