The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/05/10
Q. This general was chief of the department in charge of
prisoners of war in one of your military districts. Do you
perhaps remember this general's remark about the directive
he had received from von Gravenitz in the OKW with respect
to the Soviet prisoners of war? You will now be shown
Exhibit USSR 151, Page 5 of the German text. You will find
there the passage to which I should like to draw your

  "At the end of 1941, or the beginning of 1942, I was
  called to Berlin to attend a conference held by the
  commanders in charge of prisoners of war in the military
  districts. The newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the
  Prisoner-of-war Department, Major General von Gravenitz,
  presided over the conference.
  During the conference there was a discussion about the
  treatment of prisoners of war who, because of their
  wounds or from exhaustion and illness, were unable to
  work. At the suggestion of General von Gravenitz several
  of the officers present, among them many doctors,
  declared that such prisoners of war should be
  concentrated in a camp or in a hospital and poisoned.
  Following this discussion, Major General von Gravenitz
  issued an order to the effect that all prisoners of war
  who were unable to work should be killed, and that
  medical personnel should be employed for this purpose."

Did you know anything at all about that?

A. I knew nothing about that at all, and I cannot comment on
this document. It has nothing to do with me and I do not
know whether what has been said here

                                                   [Page 25]
is true, but General von Gravenitz must certainly know about
it. I had no connection whatsoever with prisoners of war.
That was another office. General Reinecke.

Q. Von Gravenitz himself defends his statement. He was an
executive; he put he directives of the OKW into effect and
also issued the relevant instructions, and yet you tell me
you knew nothing about them?

A. I did not say that. General von Gravenitz was no
subordinate of mine. I had no interviews of any kind with
him. I have seen him perhaps twice in all my life. I was not
responsible for prisoners of war, and I was not competent to
deal with them.

Q. Very well. We will now pass on to my last group of
questions. There are very few of them.

When defendant Keitel was cross-examined here before the
Tribunal, as well as in the preliminary interrogations - I
believe these particular subjects arose during the
preliminary interrogations - he said that you would give us
more detailed information about directives for the
destruction of Moscow and Leningrad. You stated here, before
the Tribunal, that the directives were issued for two
reasons; firstly, because General von Leeb had reported on
the gradual flight of the Leningrad population to the vest
and south through the front lines, and secondly they were
issued as a reprisal for Kiev. Is that correct?

A. Not reprisals, but the justifiable fear that what
happened to us in Kiev could also happen to us in Leningrad,
and the third reason was the announcement by the Soviet
Russian radio that this would actually take place.

Q. Good. The only important thing for me is to establish the
fact that you connected the issuing of this directive with
the report from the Leningrad front and with affairs in
Kiev; is that correct?

A. I did not connect them, but events, as they happened,
necessarily influenced the decision of the Fuehrer in this
direction. These were the reasons which he gave himself.

Q. Very well. Perhaps you will remember when the Supreme
Command received this directive - in what month?

A. It was in the first days - as far as I remember - in the
first days of September.

Q. Very well. Perhaps you can also remember the date on
which the Germans captured Kiev. Was it not towards the end
of September, 1941?

A. As far as I remember, Kiev was occupied at the end of
August. I believe it was on 25th August or round about that
period. But I cannot -

Q. Was that not on 22nd September?

A. That is entirely out of the question. We have a document
here, a report about the incidents in Kiev, I do not know
the date of it from memory, but it is Document 053-PS. We
must be able to see the date from that document.

Q. It is precisely in that document that 23rd and 24th
September are mentioned. Well, let us, however, suppose that
it really did happen in August. Would you not remember the
date when Hitler first declared that Leningrad should be
razed to the ground?

A. I beg your pardon. I have made a mistake all the time
about the date. This document is Document 323-C, it is the
Fuehrer decree, dated 7th October. So, your statement may be
correct. I was a month out in my calculations, and the
taking of Kiev was actually at the end of September. The
reports which we received from Leeb came in the first days
of October. I made a mistake. I am sorry.

Q. Please do not mention it, it is of no importance. I only
want you to remember when Hitler first stated categorically
that he would raze Leningrad to the ground. That is
important for me.

A. You are referring to the naval document, I assume, the
document of the SKL, the Naval War Staff.

Q. You will now be handed Document 291-L, and will be shown
the passage where it is written how, on 16th July, 1941,
during a conference at Hitler's head-

                                                   [Page 26]

quarters, the following statement was made: "The Finns are
claiming the district of Leningrad. The Fuehrer wants to
raze Leningrad to the ground and then hand it over to the
Finns." Have you found the passage?

A. Yes, I have found the place.

Q. This took place on 16th July, 1941, did it not?

A. The document was written on 16th July, yes.

Q. That was considerably earlier than the date you received
the report from the Leningrad front?

A. Yes, it was three months before then.

Q. It was also long before the day when explosions and fires
first occurred in Kiev. Is that correct?

A. Quite correct.

Q. It was clearly not by accident that in the directive you
drew up yourself and in the statements you made before the
Tribunal, you declared that the Fuehrer had again decided to
raze Leningrad to the ground. It was not the first time he
had made this decision.

A. No, this decision, if it actually was a decision - and
the statements made at this conference - I learned about
them for the first time here in Court. I personally did not
take part in the discussion, nor do I know whether the words
were said in that way. My remark that the Fuehrer had again
taken a decision refers to the verbal order he had given
shortly before, to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army,
perhaps one or two days earlier. It is quite clear that
there was already talk of this, and that, in the Order, I am
referring to a letter of the Army High Command of 18th
September and in that way the word "again" is to be
explained. I was quite unaware of the fact and I heard of it
for the first time here in Court. It was only here in Court
that I heard of the conference having taken place at all.

Q. Very well. The Tribunal will probably be able to judge
precisely when Hitler made this statement for the first

You have declared that you knew nothing about reprisals
against the Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. And yet you have just referred to Document 053-PS. It is
a report from Koch, personally signed by him. Maybe you will
confirm that it states quite clearly that Koch held the
civilian population of the city responsible for the Kiev
fires and destroyed the entire Jewish population of Kiev,
numbering some 35,000 souls, over half of whom were women.
That is what the report says. Is it correct?

A. I know that very well indeed, but I only found this
document here in the document room, and I used it as a good
piece of evidence for the incidents in Kiev. The existence
of the document was unknown to me until I came to Nuremberg
and it never went to the OKW. At all events, it never came
into my hands. I do not know whether it was ever even sent.

Q. You also did not know whether the Jews were destroyed or
not? Is that true?

A. I certainly believe it today. There can be no more doubt
about that, it has been proved.

Q. Very well. In the document submitted by your defence
counsel as Exhibit Jodl 3, Page 6 of your Document Book, in
the last entry made on that page, you will read the

  "A large proportion of the older generals will retire
  from the Army."

This refers to the entry in your diary of 3rd February,
1938. Do you remember?

A. Yes, that is from my diary.

Q. Are we to understand that resignations from the Army
could take place at any time, in other words that any
general could retire or resign from the Army whenever he
wanted to? That is what you say here.

A. At that time, I believe it was quite possible. In the
year 1938, I knew of no decree which prohibited it.

                                                   [Page 27]

Q. Very well. In Exhibit Jodl 64, which was submitted by
your defence counsel, we find a passage which, for some
reason or other, was not read into the record, and I would
like to quote it now. It is the testimony of General von
Vormann, who states under oath that you, together with
General von Hammerstein, often used the expressions
"criminal" and "charlatan," when referring to Hitler?

Do you confirm the accuracy of that testimony, or has
Vormann expressed himself incorrectly?

A. To the best of my knowledge, and in all good conscience,
I believe that he is confusing two things. In talking about
the Fuehrer I very often said that I looked on him as a
charlatan, but I had no cause or reason to consider him a
criminal. I often used the expression "criminal," but not in
connection with Hitler whom I did not even know at the time.
I applied it to Roehm I repeatedly spoke of him as a
criminal in my opinion, and I believe that Vormann is
confusing these statements just a little. I often used the
expression "charlatan"; that was my opinion at the time.

Q. That is to say, you considered Roehm a criminal and the
Fuehrer a charlatan? Is that correct?

A. Yes, that is right, because at that time it was my
opinion. I knew Roehm but I did not know Adolf Hitler.

Q. Then how are we to explain that, when the man whom you
described as a charlatan had come to power, you accepted
leading posts in the military machine of the German Reich?

A. Because in the course of the years I became convinced -
at least during the years from 1933 to 1938 - that he was
not a charlatan but a man of gigantic personality who,
however, in the end assumed diabolical proportions. But at
that time he definitely was a personality.

Q. Did you receive the gold party badge of the Hitler Party?

A. I have already testified to that and confirmed it.

Q. In what year did you receive the badge?

A. On 30th January, 1943.

Q. Was it after that when you came to the conclusion that
Hitler was not a "charlatan"? Did you hear my question?

A. Yes. It became clear to me then that he had, as I said
before, a gigantic personality.

Q. And after you had reached that conclusion you promptly
received the gold party badge? I thank you.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I have no more questions, your Honour.

DR. NELTE (counsel for the defendant Keitel): I should like
to call the attention of the Tribunal to the Document USSR
151, which was submitted by Colonel Pokrovsky. I should like
to ask for this document to be admitted only if General
Oesterreich can be produced as a witness for
cross-examination. My reasons for this are the following:

  1. The document as submitted contains the heading
  "Aussagen" or "statements," but we cannot make out before
  whom these statements were made.
  2. The document contains no mention of the place where it
  was drawn up.
  3. The document is not an affidavit, although, according
  to the last paragraph, General Oesterreich set it down in
  his own handwriting and it should have been certified as
  a statement under oath.

Because of the severity of the accusation which this
document brings forward against the administration of the
prisoner-of-war department, it is necessary in my opinion to
order this general to appear here in person.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes; go on.

DR. NELTE: Those are the reasons for my request. In
conclusion I should just like to point out that General von
Gravenitz is no longer alive. At all events, he cannot be
located. I tried to find him as a witness on behalf of

                                                   [Page 28]

THE. PRESIDENT: Is it a fact that this document was offered
in evidence as long ago as February or March?

DR. NELTE: I do not remember that, nor - and I know this for
certain - was it issued to us through the document division.
I am seeing this document for the first time now. But
perhaps Colonel Pokrovsky can give some information about

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider your request.

DR. NELTE: May I also call the attention of the Tribunal to
the fact that the document is dated 28th December, 1945, and
it is to be assumed that General Oesterreich can also be
presented by the people who took his testimony at that time.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Mr. President, I believe that I can give
some information about this document. It was submitted by
the Soviet Delegation on 12th February, 1946, when it was
accepted as evidence by the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, just a moment. Was it
translated into German then or was it read in Court?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I have just received a memorandum from
our document room. The document was submitted on the 13th
February, at the time when I was presenting documentary
evidence with regard to the subject of prisoners of war. It
is all I have on the matter.

I personally assume that the document was translated into
German as a matter of course at that time. I have almost no
doubt about it. However, we can easily make sure.


BY DR. EXNER (counsel for the defendant Jodl)

Q. First of all, I should like to put one question which
came up recently during the examination by the defence
counsel. It was a point which seems to me in need of

One of the defence counsel reminded you of the photographs
which were shown us here, depicting atrocities in the
occupied countries, and you said that the pictures were

What do you mean by that?

A. I meant that they were not the results of trick
photography, in which the Russian propagandists were
past-masters, according to my experience; that they were
pictures of actual events. But I also meant to say that the
pictures provided no evidence as to who had committed
atrocities. The fact that they were found in the possession
of Germans would incline us to assume that they were
pictures of things which had been perpetrated by the enemy,
by the forces of Tito or the Ustaschi. Generally one does
not take a picture of one's own acts of cruelty if any were
ever committed.

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