Archive/File: imt/nca/nca-06/nca-06-3786-ps.08 Last-Modified: 1999/11/26 Burgdorf: If I may point out the development as it is in the army very often. We have now several thousand officers who have never served with a fighting unit, or the last time, at the end of the world war. Since that time they were either used in office positions, administrative positions or as railroad commanders, patrolling trains, while the front was far away and these spaces had to he protected. Now they are at our disposal. Reichsminister Goebbels has now justifiably demanded, that these men shall not be dismissed because we could not use them as officers, while all men back to the class of 86 have been drafted. Because,if we would discharge them from the active Wehrmacht, even younger men might be dismissed who could still be IA, while old men are still being drafted. That they remain on active service has not been disputed by the Reichsmarshal. That they have to be used, is evident. The only question is how can they be used. Goering: In the World War the men have done their duty as officers and have been retired. Burgdorf: But they have not been trained with arms at all. We have an officer's training regiment at Wildtlecken. There, the men have been divided into three parts: those who have to be dismissed because they can't do their job any more, and would be of better use in business -- that will be thoroughly examined -- those who could be used advantageously in any capacity within the units. and those who have systematically shirked their duty during the whole war. We have found people who have been with 15 different units during one year from which it can be seen that they have been sent away everywhere. Goering: If you have a shirker, you courtmartial and decommission him. I am only of the opinion that it is impossible in a profession-this can't be found [Page 705] in the whole world -- that somebody, with a clean record, who has served honorably, shall be degraded because he is being used in a subordinate position. The Fuehrer: It is so with us, not in England. Goering: He always remains an officer. Burgdorf: A retired officer can only start again. Hewel told me of a colonel, who entered the service again and was killed as an airgunner. Goering: Ask, why he has been dismissed. Burgdorf: He thinks, he has been quite a decent fellow. The Fuehrer: In England rank goes with the position. Goering: I have examined it thoroughly. If a man is a captain and is in line to become major in 10 years, and tomorrow he fills a post which carries the rank of major, he will be made major out of his turn, and if he returns to a position which carries the rank of captain, he becomes a captain again. But, if due to his length of service, he is up for major after 10 years, he will become major, no matter which position he holds. That applies only for those who advanced outside of their turn. The Fuehrer: Now I want to have an exact report how it is in England. Who can give it? Fegelein: General Christian knows it well. I have talked to him, he was in America. Burgdorf: It will then have to be decided, whether we should form officer unit,,,, whereby should be added that in the officer units a first lieutenant may lead perhaps a squad and a captain a platoon, where ranks are nonsense. But I warn you, since I have seen the men. The last prestige of the officer corps will be lost by the run of an entire battalion of officers. Because the men I have seen, will run away. Goering: That is correct. But how do you intend to make an officer of a man who knows that he may be degraded any time without him doing anything wrong? Burgdorf: As soon as the Fuehrer started to promote men without regard in what rank he happened to be only according to their qualification, at that moment. it was logical that we said to the people who could not fulfill it: I am sorry but you are not capable to fill that post. Keitel: But these men are completely different men. They would not have come if they had been told that, they would have taken up another profession. Burgdorf: In this war there is no officer, who has not been promoted three grades during this war. Goering: Naturally he has been promoted; if an officer has gotten his discharge because of age or temporary illness, illness does not enter into the question- The Fuehrer: I believe, the point is briefly as follows, Goering. This, whole bureaucratic apparatus is going to be cleaned out now. It has indeed become so inflated that in comparison the civilian bureaucracy, appears like a rabbit against a saurian, and that comes from the fact that the military at the beginning of the war automatically calls back into the ranks every man who has ever seen military service and appears on some file. They have been called up on the basis of their former ranks. They have been promoted again now. The men have grown old and can lead only in a limited way. For those are world-war-officers, they have the rank of a general today, and are not capable of commanding a battalion. Thus the situation would arise that I would call out all the men in the whole nation who are only fit for limited war service, and have them serve in the army, regardless of the positions they occupy in civilian life, while at the same time I am dismissing and sending home others, who occupy superfluous posts, because I cannot use them. To the general I cannot give a division or a regiment, because he can't handle it. To a colonel I cannot give a battalion, because he cannot handle that at all. He has been currently promoted and cannot even command a company. This is the problem. It has nothing to do with his claims for a pension. But the moment I am calling up the Volkssturm and drafting, God only knows what kind of people by lowering the age limit, I up and send people home who are absolutely fit for front line duty, because they oc- [Page 707] cupy a post, which apparently needs not to be occupied at all Jand they do not fill this post, because the post is superfluous, because they sit in a bureaucracy, which we want to air out. Thus I am sending home people, who are fit f or front line duty, are really soldiers, and others, who are only fit for limited service., and are not soldiers, I am drafting. Goering: Exactly-that must not happen. He shall go to a post where he can work but in his rank. The Fuehrer: Yes, I can not use him in his rank. Goering: Not in his official position. He has done his duty during the world war, has become a regular army officer. The Fuehrer: I admit all of that. But take it, the man is now a colonel, and to give him command over a regiment would mean assassinating 3,000 men. Goering: He is not to get a regiment, either. The Fuehrer: Under certain circumstances he may not even be able to command a squad, then it will be difficult. Goering: Then he can stand guard. I have made that proposition to generals of mine. I have said, I cannot give them anything else. The Fuehrer: Have the generals accepted that? Goering: Some yes; some no. The Fuehrer: And these? Goering: These I will call in now under the more stringent regulations. Up until now, I have given them their choice, and have not drafted them. The Fuehrer: What is he going to do then? Goering: If there is nothing else, he will stand guard. The Fuehrer: As a general? Goering: As a general. The Fuehrer: Do you think that the cause will be served better in this way? Goering: During World War I this general proved himself as a valiant battalion commander, was discharged as a colonel, and has now been called in again because he is needed. The Fuehrer: In the world war no battalion commander was discharged as a colonel. Goering: As lieutenant colonel. [Page 708] The Fuehrer: My regimental commander was a major, then later he was given an acting rank, and only I made him a colonel. In the world. war people were not promoted at all. That was the poorest promotion possible. Goering: Some were promoted. But this one was given the rank of an acting lieutenant colonel, and was drafted as a lieutenant colonel, because he was needed in some bureaucratic affair, and received further promotions. Hitherto demotion has been considered the greatest disgrace imaginable among officers -- there is no doubt about it -- and this is not being understood among us. The Fuehrer: I too, am of the opinion; on principle that must be done difTerently. It will have to be done go that rank and appointment will be basically identical. Goering: That is right. Here I am entirely of your opinion. The Fuehrer: For three years I have tried to go after this. With the British this is basically so. If one commands a division, he is division general, if he commands a regiment, he is colonel, and if he commands a battalion, he is a major. If he has for a time, been commander of a regiment, he afterwards goes back again. Goering: Only a "Schweinehund" would take a demotion. If he was not that, he would have shot and killed himself. The Fuehrer: That is no demotion. Goering: If one has been a colonel, and is callied up to serve as sergeant, that is a demotion. If he is put into that rank, he can-- The Fuehrer: This is not to affect his emoluments. Goering: I would simply throw the emoluments at his feet and say: You are taking away my honor, and you well know, that so far this has been considered the greatest disgrace among officers. The Fuehrer: In reality it is not so. That is your conception. It was also considered a disgrace when I promoted a man like lightning. It was considered a disgrace among the officers when I promoted one Major Remer immediately to colonel. [Page 709] Goering: Certainiy not for him. Burgdorf: If I, a general, should have to serve as a major, I would prefer to do it in a major's uniform, otherwise it would be a constant public defamation, and everybody would know it. Goering: You say that, because it does not apply to you. Then do it. It would be a shining example. Burgdorf: I am confident that I can still be used in the capacity of my rank. Goering: Then complete reconstruction will be necessary. In this case it would be demotion without judicial sentence. The Fuehrer: It is no demotion. The man is not demoted, he is only given a position which he really can fill, which he had outgrown, without being able to measure up to the new rank. Then it would be a demotion also, if I draft the president of some concern today, and he has to serve as a private. Goering: No, he is not a professional officer, he did not choose the profession of a soldier. The Fuehrer: But the other one has chosen his profession, and must be able to meet its requirements. If he cannot do that, that is no demotion. Goering: If he does not meet the requirements of a president, he will be discharged. The Fuehrer: Then he can no longer be president, but perhaps be only plant manager. Goering: Or somewhere else a travelling salesman. Fegelein: It has always been like that with the political leaders. The Fuehrer: Fundamentally I am of the opinion, that the British system is healthier. It says: Anyone who commands a division is a division general, and if he does not, he is not, and if a division general should some day again command a regiment, then he is regimental commander. In the "Reichswehr" we were, at the time, of the opinion, the generals there were never to command regiments and battalions, and therefore we took off the old army insignia as unsuited. We simply said, we will not wear uniforms, just stars, so that a general at that time could also command a battalion. We could not have done it any other way. [Page 710] Goering: With me a general had command ot a group. The Fuehrer: Then what kind of insignia did these wear? Keitel: In the Reichswehr only stars. Fegelein: Hausser was discharged as a major general and then was a colonel with us. The Fuehrer: Here is an example. I want to tell you something right now. How many were discharged from the army as generals, entered the Waffen-SS and occupied subordinate positions. Goering: They were not forced to do it. The Fuehrer: What do you mean "not forced"? We stand in a time of emergency today. The question is this: I must think myself in the place of a company commander. Such an officer is a lieutenant and able to lead a company, but he has a colonel, who himself is absolutely incapable to lead a company, because it has been 25 years since he knew how. But he is now in that company as a platoon leader, maybe not even that, he is in it in his uniform. What sort of a mottled affair are we going to have then? Does the officer in charge of the company then salute his colonel'? Goering: It is a fundamental matter, which upsets and overturns everything that has been existing hitherto, an idea, which was inconceivable until now. To this alone I call attention. The Fuehrer: Anyhow, it is this way in the rest of the world. Goering: Not in the rest of the world. It's never so in England. Therefore I made the suggestion, to differentiate between rank and position. Keitel: In the Volkssturm there have been no difficulties so far. Goering: No, not there. You said., in the Reichswelir. Then you mean to say, that it had been introduced by the Reichswehr, that some general, who commanded a battalion, was only a major. Keitel: Exactly. He did not wear a General's uniform and the man was called battalion commander, and no longer major, lieutenant colonel or general. Goering: How long was that?
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