Archive/File: imt/nca/nca-06/nca-06-3786-ps.09 Last-Modified: 1999/11/26 Keitel: It had been carried through'in the Reichswehr. Then it disappeared again, because it was said, how can you do such a thing, this is madness. I was the one who said we have no rank, no lieu- [Page 711] tenant, no captain, major, lieutenant colonel, but we have platoon leaders, company leaders, battalion leaders, regimental leaders. Goering: When for instance was a general. a platoon leader? Keitel:I must know that. I have been organizational chief of the Army General Staff. Goering: What years are you speaking of? Keitel:The years 1925-30. The mobilization orders which were applicable to the entire Armed Forces, had been officially introduced and recognized. There was no longer any rank, only the rating connected with the appointment. Goering:That is just what I have been requesting for 2 years. But it has not been the case, that a general, who was a general, suddenly becomes sergeant, Jodl: I would do it this way: Lt. Colonel X would be ordered to report for active duty as a platoon leader. The Fuehrer: He will not be demoted. That is a definition which suddenly was dropped in here. But his rank in itself is dormant. Goering: If one has -been a general, and is ordered to report for active duty as a sergeant, then according to the prevailing conception, he is demoted. The Fuehrer: I cannot call him in as a general. Goering: If he is ordered to report as platoon leader or squad leader, that is something different. Keitel: At that time an emergency existed and with the giant officers corps of the world war we could not have done otherwise. Jodl: Such extreme cases surely would never occur. Burgdorf: To be squad leader, one does not need to have any leadership-personality at all. Goering: How do you intend to change the rank? You said yourself, as technical sergeant or sergeant. Burgdorf: It is the numerous captains and majors, with whom I am stuck. Goering: You spoke of generals. But even with a colonel it is not easy either. Burgdorf: Even a colonel I could always use as an officer. But the majority of them have never been soldiers. [Page 712] Goering: Right, I agree with your definition, if the rank is taken into account. The Fuehrer: But even then he can't run around in a general's uniform. What kind of a company would you have, if each company commander wears the uniform of a lieutenant and the platoon leader the uniform of a general, to speak in extremes. I don't know which one is the greater degradation. On the other hand, I can't give a unit to the general that corresponds to his rank, when he is not capable of it. How can I give a young volunteer division to the general, when it is going to be destroyed through it? Maybe he was a poor company commander in World War I, where it was generally known, that in normal peace times he would not have been in the position to lead a company. Then he would have had to attend courses,' just like nowadays. We promote many and know, that under normal peace time conditions, they couldn't make it. Jodl: Can't one say: Colonel X will be given the command as a chief of a Volkssturm company [Volkssturmkompaniechef], even though he is transferred elsewhere? Burgdorf:There he is subject to a different classification. The Fuehrer: I had people in the SA and the SS who advanced by hard work. In the army this is impossible. Just visualize this company in reality, led by a capable lieutenant, who became a lieutenant; who is able to lead it and must lead it, and under.his command he has a couple of lieutenant colonels or generals in their respective uniforms. During that time the service rank must not count, the way I see it. There is no other way. Goering: Off duty he will keep his rank, on duty he will not. The Fuehrer: One thing must be avoided: that those men who are fit for active service now don't fight at all, because they can't hold their jobs, but the one who is fit for limited combat duty must fight. Nowadays I must keep in mind the psychological moments not only in the case of officer but also of the German people. After all this is no disgrace. [Page 713] Goering: But that must be made clear. Jodl: There must not be the feeling of a degradation without guilt. Burgdorf: Six weeks of training will be given to them, in order to show whether they are capable or not. I have seen the men and you yourself would say instantly, Reiclismarshall, that fellow shouldn't be in uniform at all. If I had to carry out thousands of judicially interwoven degradations, I wouldn't have even enough men, to do the work. Goering: Then I would say immediately, out of the armed forces and into the Home Guard [Volkssturm]. Burgdorf: There are old people in the Volkssturm. Then a 46 year old man comes up who is fit for combat, and who has been shirking successfully and who has been in the West before. Goering: You could degrade a man like that. The Fuehrer: He also cannot command a unit. He has never held such positions. I can't trust him with the smallest unit. Goering: Then in the unit itself. a number of men has also to be taken out. Burgdorf: In a fighting unit one can see that pretty quickly. Fegelein: The Reichsfuehrer did it the same way. He only said to the 19th army, I am of that opinion, and that did it. The Fuehrer: After all, the profession of a soldier is a fighting profession. That must be the aim. That must be made clear basically. Because this is an entirely different point of view. The Fuehrer: It is no degradation, but the rank drops during the time of operations. If the man is capable, then he will be reinstated into his rank within a short time. He has a much easier time than anyone else. But some solution must be found. One thing must be avoided: that a military purge takes place, with the result of a change from the military bureaucracy into civilian idleness. I can't even use them in the labor-pool, because in a way we have a surplus of workers. Apart from that, people are justified in saying: This one is fit for combat and not the other one who is sent to the front. [Page 714] Burgdorf: The sending of a mortar platoon to the Reichsfuehrer in the Black Forest worked miracles in the O.C.S. regiment. However, it didn't look so good to the lower ranks, when a lieutenant colonel and three lieutenants carried mortars around. The Fuehrer: This to me is much more degrading than the other method. The other method consists in givIng a position to a man which corresponds to his ability and with which I can trust him fully. Otherwise I let him run around in his uniform and perform work, that can be done by a common private or N.C.O. Goering: Then one must act consequently and quick by freezing promotions, etc. Burgdorf :To promote unit commanders only. Goering: Then none will stay on the staff. Burgdorf: Privileged positions are to be had. Keitel: We have duties, which have to be performed by men who are really close to the front. We can't do anything with idiots. Burgdorf: It is much worse to take away the men who are fit for combat. Keitel: Would you read my order concerning the withdrawal of men, who are fit for combat. This is gradually becoming unbearable. Goering: I also can't let anyone remain with the staff, when he says: I can't be promoted while on the staff, I must prove myself as commanding officer of troops, I won't stay here, that you can't ask of me. Today I can lead a company, you suspended me for one year, now I am not able anymore to lead a unit, this is not my fault. That is what he will say. Burgdorf: We promote them. We take paymasters as C.O.'s of companies and battalions, as soon as they can do that. The Fuehrer: I deem it worse, to assemble so called officer's battalions these days. Because if they fail, they leave a very bad impression. That will be talked about in another unit. Then they are looked upon as disciplinary battalions. In my opinion it would be better to place them into other units. For this would be a definite defamation. [Page 715] Guderian: In the mortar battalion mentioned, there is as lieutenant colonel one who was my supply leader in Poland, France, and Russia, he was decorated, I myself decorated him with the Iron Cross, first class. This man was reported by one of his countrymen from Oberdonau because of alleged remarks which he never made, but which were said to be made before the Anschluss; therefore he was dismissed from his position, was placed into this mortar battalion at Wildflecken, and as a decent, splendid lieutenant colonel who in his case has been an outspokenly capable and especially splendid man, he is carrying mortars around, and he wrote me the most awful letters that were just heartbreaking. He says: I have been defamed without being guilty, without a logical investigation and verification, only because of a dirty fellow who reported me, and I don't know how to help myself. I believe, he has not been rehabilitated yet. The Fuehrer: Those are cases in which at the present we have to discharge 5/6 of our administration. It is not a question of defamations. The administration must be discharged, and one cannot decide that those 5/6 don't have to be soldiers anymore for the reason, that they can't get a military command corresponding to their rank. Guderian: Then we must use them some place else. If a colonel can only be used as a leader of a battalion or company, he is going to get that rank and for the duration of this duty he takes off his shoulder- pieces. The Fuehrer: That is it. Goering: But he does not become a N.C.O. Guderian: No, he remains a colonel or general with full pay and privileges. Goering: Never mind the pay. Fegelein: With the escort detachment there are a great many captains [Hauptsturmfuehrer] who served with the Leibstandarte in the rank of sergeants. There were never any difficulties. Goering: The Waffen-SS is an active formation. The other ones are inactive. When they are serving there, they are on reserve duty. One can be Oberpraes- [Page 716] ident and also can be corporal. This is something else. Not a single one will remain now in a command, because he says, I am running this risk. The Fuehrer: Under no circumstances would I release these men to go home in the first place. At a time, when I draft men up to almost 56 years, who are fit for limited combat service, I discharge 45-year-old ones, although they have been soldiers all the time. That doesn't work. In the second place, it is not plausible that I give a man, who is not able to lead a unit, a command of a unit in spite of it. Goering: And in the third place, I cannot say to the man, after I have taken them on the staff and who were able to lead a unit: Because you have been on the staff, you won't get a unit. The Fuehrer: If they are able to lead a unit, then they will get it. Goering: No, they were capable. The Fuehrer: Then they will be there again within the shortest time. That they must learn. This is no disgrace. I myself had to learn it too, to be Reiclischancellor. I used to be party leader, my own boss, and as Reiclischancellor I was a subordinate of the Reichspresident. For a period of time I was Regierungsrat in Braunschweig. Goering: But not an acting one. The Fuehrer: Don't say that. I have been very useful to the country. Burgdorf: We will put them all into training courses, to continue. their training. In addition to that we constantly have a request to higher army authorities to release the ones concerned to us for two months, so that the man in question returns again. This way he won't become a stranger. The Fuehrer: Nowadays I can bring the born commanding officer on any staff,-when I return him, I cannot say, that he will skip all that. That is an impossibility. Because they must learn an awful lot. Anyone who is leading out there now, will confirm that. In a few months, however, he will naturally again prove his qualities as a leader. He will then again have the position corresponding to his rank. if he is the born commanding officer at [Page 717] all, That is quite clear; it shouldn't be difficult. Now, take the born commanding officer, he'll be that corresponding to his rank, in no time at all. Fegelein: The 10,000 officers and non-coms, the British and Americans in Sagan, will march in two hours and in formation. Besides that, there are also 1,500 men marching toward Sagan who were somewhere near the Government General. They were offered to remain with the Russians, because they couldn't be transported; they declined that and offered to fight on our side.... Hewel: They want guns. Jodl: Should we succeed in persuading the British and Americans to fight against the Russians, this will be a sensation. Hewel: But this is not confirmed yet. The Fuehrer: Perhaps somebody said something like that, and then it is immediately generalized. I am suspicious to the utmost. Fegelein: If it works, O.K., we may do so. The Fuehrer: But not, because someone said so. Fegelein: The 1,500 marched on foot, they did not want to ride trucks, because they were afraid, they would be driven to the Russians. Therefore they marched, because they saw, that the Russians drove into a German civilian formation. This impressed them in such a way, that they left on foot. Hewel: One should really let a few English officers go over. Jodl: They may be airplane specialists. End: 18:50 o'clock.
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