The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. What were the relations of the German Air Force to the
air forces of foreign countries during the period beginning
with the year 1935?

A. During the first years after 1935, Germany had no air
force worth mentioning. There were only the first units, the
first larger schools that were established; likewise, during
these years, industry was enlarged. Before the rearmament

                                                  [Page 253]

started, our industry had been on a very small scale. I
happen to know that the number of workers in the entire
German air force industry, at the time of the, seizure of
power by the National Socialists, was about 3,000 to 3,300
men, constructors, businessmen, technicians and workers.

The first contacts with foreign countries in the field of
aviation started in 1937This was when, in January 1937, an
English Commission led by Air-Vice-Marshal Courtney and
three other high-ranking officers - Courtney was the Chief
of the Intelligence Service of the British Air Force - came
to Germany. I myself accompanied this Commission, and acted
as guide during the entire time. We complied with every
request of these gentlemen as to what they wanted to see.
Those were the first contacts which were established. We
especially showed our training unit, in which all new forms
and models were tried out, the industries, the schools, and
anything else about which the gentlemen wanted to know. At
the end of our conference the English Vice-Marshal suggested
that we should start a mutual German-English exchange of
plans. I asked for the approval of my Commander-in-Chief and
it was granted. At the time we forwarded to the British the
plans of the German Air Force for '37, '38 and I believe,
'39, and on the other hand we also received from the British
the corresponding figures. We agreed that in the future
also, should changes in plans occur or new units be
established, an exchange of data should again take place.
The visit was animated by a spirit of comradeship and was
the beginning of further contacts.

In May of the same year, 1937, I was invited to Belgium with
several other gentlemen, as representative of my Commander-
in-Chief, to see their Air Force; then in July . . .

Q. What happened on this visit to Belgium? Can you give me
more details about that?

A. It was a very cordial reception. I made the acquaintance
of the Minister of war, the Minister of Foreign affairs, the
Prime Minister, and also of his Majesty the King, besides
the officers of the Air Force who, of course, were primarily
of interest to me. The discussion was friendly on both
sides, and the Belgians assured us of their personal
feelings of friendship for Germany.

Q. Was there also an exchange of data?

A. No, not in the same way, but later in Germany we also
showed the Belgians everything, when the Chief of the Air
Force, General Duvier, returned our visit. Then there was a
big international meeting in the summer, in July 1937, on
the occasion of the aviation meeting in Zurich which was
held every five years. At this meeting we intentionally
showed our latest models of fighters, bombers and Stukas,
also our new engines which had just been produced and
anything else that would be of international interest. There
was a large French, Italian, Czech and Belgian Delegation
present, besides the German one, and a Commission of British
officers also attended to see the material displayed by us,
but did not take part in the contests as representative of
Great Britain. We showed our material to the French, the
British, and to the other nations, in a spirit of
comradeship. There was, for instance, the Messerschmidt
fighter 109 with the improvements of the time, more or less
as it was flown until the end of the war; the newest Dornier
bomber type, the newest Stuka by Junkers, also the Daimler-
Benz 600 and 601 engines, and also of Junkers . . .

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think that this amount of detail is
of any interest to the Tribunal.


Q. Witness, please, no details; make it short.

A. Yes. Then in October 1937, there was an invitation to
France from the French Government to inspect their Air Force
also. The inspection is said to have been made in a very
friendly spirit. Shortly after that, about one week later,
there was a visit on the  invitation of England in return
for Air-Vice-Marshal Courtney's

                                                  [Page 254]

visit. Here, also, factories, organizations, schools and the
War Academy were shown; also, as regards industry, the
"Shadow Factories" were shown, that is, industries which
produce peace-time goods in time of peace, and switch over
to building aircraft and aircraft engines in time of war.
There were also reciprocal visits with Sweden. I think I can
conclude with that.

Q. Did you take part in a discussion with the Fuehrer on
23rd May, 1939?

A. Yes.

Q. In what function?

A. I was suddenly ordered to come on the morning of that
day, because the Reich-Marshal was not there.

Q. Do you remember the course of this conversation?

A. The Fuehrer made a long speech to the three Commanders-in-
Chief of the Army, Navy and Air Force, and their Chiefs of
Staff. Several other persons were also present. The gist of
it was, that Hitler declared he had decided to solve the
question of a corridor across the Corridor to East Prussia
in one way or another, and in connection with that he
discussed the possibility of complications which, in
consequence, might arise in the West. It was only a speech,
not a discussion or a conversation.

Q. Was anything else discussed or presented by him, any
further details?

A. Yes, it was just the question whether the West - probably
he was thinking primarily of France - would keep quiet or
whether it would interfere.

Q. Was anything said of the possibility of an attack on
Poland, or, as I remember, was only the solution of this
"Corridor" problem mentioned?

A. Actually, I understood him to say that he would solve
this problem in any case, so his first thought was probably
of negotiations, but if these negotiations did not produce
results, then a military solution would probably have to be

Q. Were there any further discussions about that?

A. No, it was expressly ordered that any discussion by the
participants, even among themselves, was forbidden; I, for
instance, was forbidden to inform the Reichsmarshal, who was
not there. Hitler declared that he himself would inform
Goering. I remember that at that time the famous order was
also issued, which has been mentioned previously and which
is known as "Fuehrer Order No. 1," and which had to be
displayed in every one of our offices, that nobody should
say anything to anybody, which he need not know, that
nothing should ever be said sooner than necessary, and that
only as much should be said as the other person ought to

Q. Then you did not inform the Reichsmarshal about this

A. No, I was forbidden to do so.

Q. When did he find out about it?

A. I do not know.

Q. What was the attitude of the then Field-Marshal Goering
towards war?

A. I have always been under the impression - this already
became apparent at the time of the occupation of the
Rhineland-that he was worried that Hitler's policy might
lead to war. In my opinion, he was against war.

Q. When did you find out for the first time that Hitler had
planned something against Russia?

A. As far as I remember, that was in the spring of 1941. May
I correct myself once more? I want to look in my notebook.
On 13th January, the Reichsmarshal told me that Hitler
expected an attack against Germany on the part of Russia;
then, for some time, I did not hear anything further about
it and the Reichsmarshal did not mention either, what his
opinion was. At any rate, during the weeks and months
following, I did not hear any more about it. It is true,
however, that at that time I was very seldom in Berlin, and
not at all at Headquarters as I was on inspection tours,
etc. When I returned - and I do not remember whether it was
in March or April - one of my subordinates made me a report
on a question of clothing and he put the question to me
whether winter clothing had to

                                                  [Page 255]
be provided in case of war against Russia. I was very
surprised about this question, I had not been previously
informed. I could only tell him that, if we came to war with
Russia, we should then need clothing for several winters,
and I told him what kind of winter clothing I would suggest.

Did you speak a second time to Field-Marshal Goering about
this war?

A. Yes.

Q. When was that?

A. On 22nd May, on one of my trips, I again came into
contact with the Commander-in-Chief for the first time after
a long interval. It was in Veldenstein, where Goering was at
the time. There I discussed the question with him, and I
told him that, in my opinion, it was a great historical task
for him to prevent this war, since it could only end with
the annihilation of Germany. I reminded him that we should
not voluntarily burden ourselves with a two-front war, etc.
The Reich-Marshal told me that he also had pleaded all these
arguments but that it was absolutely impossible to dissuade
Hitler from this war. My offer, that I would try to speak to
Hitler once more, was declared by the Reichsmarshal to be
absolutely hopeless. We had to resign ourselves, nothing
could be done about it. From these words it was quite clear
that he was against this war, and that under no
circumstances did he want this war, but that also for him in
his position, there was no possibility of dissuading Hitler
from this project.

Q. Did it also appear from what he said, that he had
presented his objections to Hitler?

A. Yes, that was quite clear to me, that he had also spoken
about the question of a two-front war, etc., and he told me
that he had also presented to Hitler the arguments presented
by me; but he told me it was hopeless. I would like to say
some more about 23rd May. After this conference - and based
on the fact that the German Air Force had hardly any
reserves of bombs available - I applied for the manufacture
of bombs. Previously, Hitler had considered this unnecessary
and superfluous for the time being. The problem involved the
shortage of iron. After this conference, being under the
impression that complications might arise, I pointed out
that the Air Force with its bomber fleet was not ready for
action. My application was again rejected by Hitler after
the 23rd of May. He would let me know in time if and when we
needed bombs. When we pointed out that the manufacture of
bombs would take several weeks, even months, he declared
that there would be plenty of time for that later. From that
I drew the conclusion - and you know I could not discuss it
with anybody - that Hitler's words on the 23rd of May were
not meant as seriously as they had sounded to me.

Q. When was this last conversation concerning the refusal to
manufacture bombs?

A. That was about - I spoke once in that connection - after
May when the situation was known. But later, during the
latter part of summer, I again brought it to his attention.
Again it was rejected. The order to manufacture bombs was
not given by Hitler until 12th October, 1939, although we
had pointed out that deficiency before; Hitler said, if I
remember correctly, "My attempts to make peace with the West
after the campaign against Poland have failed. The war
continues. Now we can and must manufacture the bombs."

Q. Did Hitler ever tell you that it was his serious desire
to live in peace with the West?

A. Yes. I did not go into the details of my visits. When I
came back from France, I was with Hitler for two hours on
the Obersalzberg, to report to him about the visit to
France. Likewise, after the visit in England, about two
weeks later, I had to make a report of several hours to
Hitler. He was very interested and after the second report,
that is to say, after the English visit, he declared, "I
wish to carry on my policy in such and such a way, but you
can rest assured that I will always rely on England. I shall
try to co-operate with England at all times." This
conversation took place on the 2nd of November.

                                                  [Page 256]

Q. What year?

A. The year 1937, the 2nd of November.

Q. You mentioned two conversations?

A. Yes, the first was the report about the visit to France
and the second about the visit to England. Hitler, who did
not know foreign countries, was extremely interested to hear
something from a soldier about the reception, the country,
armaments and so forth.

Q. What were the relations between Reichsmarshal Goering and

A. It was not always very clear to me. I had the impression
that there was always a rivalry on the part of Himmler. The
mutual relationship, however, must always have been very
correct and very obliging on the surface; how they really
stood, I could not say.

Q. In May of 1942, there was an exchange of correspondence
between you and the SS Obergruppenfuehrer Wolff?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. In particular, about medical experiments on inmates of
the Dachau Camp. Could you tell us anything about that?

A. I have been interrogated about that question here in
Nuremberg and two letters, a letter from Wolff (he was
adjutant to Himmler at the time) and another letter from
Himmler to me and the answer which I had given, were
submitted to me. They concerned the experiments with air
pressure chambers and sub-temperatures. These letters were
addressed to me only because Himmler did not know the
official channels of the Luftwaffe. The letters were
delivered to the Medical Inspection which was not
subordinate to me. The Medical Inspection also wrote the
answer and submitted it to me. I modified the answer a
little and had it mailed. I have not read a report sent by
Himmler in this connection. He also offered a film. I did
not see the film. The Medical Inspector, whom I asked what
it was all about, told me that the Air Force was fully
informed about both problems and that the experiments with
air pressure chambers had been carried out by our young
doctors who had volunteered for that purpose. Likewise, the
question of sub-temperatures was without interest to the Air
Force. We both agreed on his suggestion that we did not want
to have anything to do with the matter. I asked him what
these experiments were made for. He told me that criminals
were subjected to these experiments. I asked him in what
way. He said, in the same way as our young doctors had
subjected themselves to these experiments. Then we wrote him
a letter which was quite polite - one could not write
differently to these people - but completely repudiating the
experiments. We would have nothing to do with them. In
Himmler's letter I had been asked to make a report to the
Reichsmarshal, also, about that question.

I had the impression that, by these experiments, the SS
wanted to impress Hitler. These were the words used by the
Chief of the Medical Department to me. During a long report
on quite different questions, I mentioned this matter
briefly, to the Reichsmarshal, because I had to expect that
one day he would be approached by Himmler, and perhaps would
not know anything about the whole question. The
Reichsmarshal asked me, when I told him about such and such
experiments, "What does this mean?" I gave him the reply
which I had been given by the Medical Inspector. I told him
that we did not want to have anything to do with them, and
that we repudiated them. He said he was exactly of the same
opinion, but I should be very careful not to provoke the SD
or treat them badly. What the experiments were about I do
not know, neither do I know what was done to the people; I
do not know it even now.

Q. Did the Reichsmarshal know?

A. No, certainly not.

Q. Did Dr. Rascher leave you soon after that to join the SS?

                                                  [Page 257]

A. I could not say. I do not know Dr. Rascher, and had
nothing to do with the question of transfer. Rascher was not
subordinate to me any more than was the Chief of the Medical
Department or the Personnel office.

Q. Do you know whether Reichsmarshal Goering gave orders to
the troops under his command, saying that sabotage troops
should be annihilated, or that captured enemy terror-flyers
should be turned over to the SD without judicial procedure?

A. No, I did not know anything about that.

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