The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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   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:

     "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
     "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

     "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
     "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
     "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
     "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

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

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