The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Did you know that the occupation of the Rhineland in the
demilitarised zone, the re-establishment of the Wehrhoheit,
the introduction of conscription, the building up of an air
force and the increase in the number of Wehrmacht
contingents violated the Versailles Treaty?

A. The wording of the Versailles Treaty, as long as we
considered it binding and acknowledged its existence, did
not, of course, permit any of these things. The Treaty of
Versailles, may I say, was studied very closely by us in
order to find loopholes which allowed us, without violating
the Treaty, to take suitable measures which would not make
us guilty of breaking the Treaty. That was the daily task of
the Reich Defence Committee.

From 1935 on, conditions were entirely different, and after
my return as Chief, under Blomberg, I must state frankly
that I no longer had any misgivings as to whether the Treaty
of Versailles was violated or not because what was done was
done openly. We announced that we would raise 36 divisions.
Discussions were held quite openly, and I could see nothing
in this which we soldiers could in any way call a violation
of the Treaty. It was clear to all of us, and it was our
will to do everything to free ourselves of the territorial
and military fetters of the Treaty of Versailles. I must say
frankly that any soldier or officer who did not feel
similarly about these things would, in my estimation, have
been worthless. It was taken as a matter of course if one
was a soldier.

Q. During this trial, an order, C-194, which bears your
signature, was submitted. It concerns aerial reconnaissance
and movements of U-boats at the time of the occupation of
the Rhineland. This order leads to the inference that you
participated in the occupation of the Rhineland. In what
capacity did you sign this order?

A. The order is also introduced further on with the words:
"The Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Minister von
Blomberg, on the basis of reports, has

                                                  [Page 329]

ordered." I transmitted in this form an instruction which
Blomberg had given me, to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy
and the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force and I recall
that it concerned the introduction of control measures
during the days when the three battalions were marching into
the demilitarised zone.

Q. Did you, up to the time of your appointment as the chief
of the O.K.W., discover from Hitler himself or from other
sources, that there were plans in existence which, contrary
to Hitler's assurances of peaceful intentions could be put
into effect only by force, that is, through a war?

A. During this period of time until the first practical
measures were taken in the case of Austria I cannot remember
having any knowledge of a programme or the establishment of
a programme or far-reaching plan, or one covering a period
of years. I must say also that we were so occupied with the
reorganisation of this small army of seven divisions into an
expanded force of twice or three times its original size,
apart from the creation of a large Air Force, which was non-
existent at that time, that in those years a visit to our
office would have shown that we were completely occupied
with purely organisational problems, and the way Hitler
worked, as described by me to-day, is ample proof that we
saw nothing of these things.

Q. Did you have any personal connection with Hitler before
the 4th of February, 1938?

A. In the years from 1935 to 1938, as chief under von
Blomberg, I saw the Fuehrer three times. He never spoke one
word to me and he did not know me. If he knew anything at
all about me it could only have been through von Blomberg. I
had no contact either personally with the Fuehrer or through
other people who were prominent in the Party or in politics.
My first conversation with him was in the last days of
January before I was appointed to office.

Q. Did you hear anything of the meeting or discussion with
Hitler in November, 1937? I am referring to a conference in
which Hitler, as it is alleged, made public his "last will
and testament."

A. I already stated under oath at the preliminary
interrogation that I did not know about this, and that I saw
a document or the minutes or a record of this meeting at
this trial for the first time. I believe it is the Hoszbach
document, and I do not remember that von Blomberg gave me
any directions to take preparatory steps after this
conference. That is not the case.

Q. Did you know of any of Hitler's intentions regarding
territorial questions?

A. Yes. I must answer that in the affirmative. I learned of
them, and I also knew from public political discussions,
that he proposed to settle in some form, gradually or over a
short or long period of time, a series of territorial
problems which were the result of the Treaty of Versailles.

Q. And what did you think about the realisation of these
territorial aims, I mean the manner in which they were to be

A. At that time I only saw these things and judged them
according to what we were capable of in military terms. I
can only say, when I left my troops in 1935, none of these
24 divisions which were to be established existed. I did not
view all this from the standpoint of political aims, but
with the sober consideration: Can we accomplish anything
through aggression and war if we have no military means at
our disposal. Consequently for me everything in this
connection revolved around the programmes of rearmament,
which were to be completed in 1943-1945, and for the Navy,
1945. Therefore, we had ten years in which to build up a
concentrated Wehrmacht. Consequently, I did not consider
these problems were acute even when they came to my
attention in a political way, for I considered it impossible
to realise these plans except through negotiations.

Q. How do you explain the general directives of June, 1937,
for preparation for mobilisation?

A. This document is actually a general instruction for
mobilisation and was in line with our traditional General
Staff policy before the war and before the World

                                                  [Page 330]

War, the First World War, that basically something like that
must be prepared beforehand. In my opinion, it had nothing
to do with any of Hitler's political plans, for at that time
I was already the Chief of Staff under Blomberg and General
Jodl was at that time the Chief of the National Defence
Division. Perhaps it is somewhat arrogant for me to say that
we were very much satisfied that we were at last beginning
to tell the Wehrmacht each year what it had to do
intellectually and theoretically. In the former General
Staff training which I received before the World War, the
chief aim of these instructions was that these journeys for
the purpose of study should afford an opportunity for
thinking out all problems in theory. Such was the training
of the large General Staff. I no longer know whether in this
connection von Blomberg himself originally thought out these
examples of possible complications or possible military
contingencies, or whether he was perhaps influenced by the
Fuehrer. It is certain that Hitler never saw this. It was
the inside work of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht.

Q. But in it you find a reference to the case of "Otto," and
you know that that was the affair with Austria.

A. Of course, I remember the "Case Otto," which indicates by
its name that it concerns Otto von Hapsburg. There were, of
course, certain reports about an attempted restoration, and
in that case an armed intervention was actually to take
place. The Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, wished to prevent a
restoration of the monarchy in Austria. Later this came up
again in connection with the "Anschluss." I believe that I
can omit that now and perhaps explain it later. In any
event, we believed that on the basis of the deliberations by
the Army some sort of preparations were being made which
would bring into being "Case Otto," because the code word
was "Case Otto comes into force."

Q. You mean to say that no concrete orders were given in
regard to "Case Otto" on the basis of this general

A. You mean the "Anschluss" at the beginning of February?

Q. I beg your pardon?

A. I can only state here what I experienced when Hitler sent
me to the Army. I went into General Beck's office and said
"The Fuehrer demands that you report to him immediately and
inform him about the preparations which have already been
made for a possible invasion of Austria," and General Beck
then said, "We have prepared nothing; nothing has been done
at all,

Q. The prosecution contends that you participated in
planning the action against Austria when it was put into
effect in March of 1938. I have here the directive regarding
"Case Otto" - C-102.

Can you still affirm that the whole matter was improvised?

A. I remember that this order was issued to the Commander-in-
Chief of the Army and it was not issued to the other
Commanders-in-Chief until the whole project was under way.
Nothing had been prepared. It was all improvised and this
was to be the recorded statement of facts which were then
put into practice. The commands were given verbally and
individually regarding what was to be done and what actually
was done on the morning of the 12th of March when Austria
was invaded.

Q. I must now return to the events preceding the case of
Austria. You know that in General Jodl's diary it is stated
"Schuschnigg is signing under the strongest political and
military pressure." In what manner did you participate in
this conference at the Obersalzberg, which took place with

A. May I add to my previous answer that we can see from this
that the invasion took place on the morning of 12th March,
and the order was issued late in the evening of March 11.
Therefore this document could not have had any real
influence on this affair. Such an order cannot be worked out
between 10 in the evening and 6 in the morning.

I can say the following in regard to my participation at
Obersalzberg, on the 10th or 11th of February:

                                                  [Page 331]

It was the first official action in which I participated. On
the evening of  the 4th of February Hitter left Berlin. He
summoned me to be at Obersalzberg on the 10th of February.
There, on that day, the meeting with the Austrian Federal
Chancellor, Schuschnigg, which has been frequently discussed
here, took place. Shortly after I arrived - I had no idea
why I had been summoned - General von Reichenau arrived from
Munich and General of the Air Force, Sperrle; so that we
three Generals were present when at about 10.30 Herr
Schuschnigg arrived with Herr von Papen. Since I had never
attended a conference or a political action or any meeting
of that nature, I did not know what to do. I must tell you
this frankly, otherwise you will not understand it. In the
course of the day the reason for the presence of the three
representatives of the Wehrmacht naturally became clear to
me. In certain respects they represented a military - at
least, a military demonstration - I may safely call it that.
In the preliminary interrogation and also in later
discussions I was asked the significance of the fact that in
the afternoon my name was suddenly called and I was to visit
the Fuehrer. I went to him in his room. Perhaps it sounds
strange for me to say that when I entered the room I thought
that he would give me a directive, but the words were
"Nothing at all." He used the words, "Please sit down." Then
he said, "Yes, the Federal Chancellor wishes to have a short
conference with his Foreign Minister Schmidt; otherwise
there is nothing at all." I can only assure you that not one
word was said to me about a political action apart from the
fact that Herr Schuschnigg did not leave until the evening
and that further conferences took place.

We generals sat in the ante room, and when, in the evening,
shortly before my departure, I received the directive to
launch reports regarding certain measures for mobilisation,
of which you have been informed here through a document, it
became quite clear to me that this day had served to bring
the discussions to a head by the introduction of military
representatives, and the directive to spread reports was to
keep up the pressure, as has been shown here.

Upon my return to my apartment in Berlin, in the presence of
Goebbels and Canaris, we discussed the reports which were to
be sent out and which Canaris then broadcast in Munich.
Finally in order to conclude this matter it might be
interesting to point out that the Chief of Intelligence in
the Austrian Federal Ministry, Lahousen, who had been
present, told Jodl and me when later on he went into the
service of the Wehrmacht, that: "We were not taken in by
this bluff." And I indubitably gave Jodl a basis for his
entry in the diary, even though it is somewhat drastically
worded, for I was naturally impressed by this first

Q. What is your position to the measures against Austria?

A. Nothing further need be said concerning the further
developments of the affair. It has already been presented
here in detail. On the day of the invasion by the troops I
flew with Hitler to the front. We drove along the highways
through Braunau, Linz. We stayed overnight and proceeded to
Vienna. And soberly speaking, it is true that in every
village we were received most enthusiastically, and the
Austrian Federal Army marched side by side with the German
soldiers through the streets over which we drove. Not a shot
was heard. On the other side the only formation which had a
certain military significance was an armoured unit on the
road from Passau to Vienna which arrived in Vienna with very
few vehicles. This division was on the spot for the parade
the next day. That is a very sober picture of what I saw.

Q. Now we come to the question of Czechoslovakia. When did
Hitler discuss with you for the first time the question of
Czechoslovakia, and his intentions in that respect?

A. I believe six to eight weeks after the march into
Austria, that is, after the "Anschluss" toward the end of
April. It was about the middle of March and that also took
the form of a sudden summons one evening to the Reich
Chancellery where the Fuehrer then explained matters to me.
This resulted in the well-known

                                                  [Page 332]

directive in the Case "Green." The history of this case is
well known through the Schmundt files, which I identified in
the preliminary interrogations. At that time he gave me the
first directives, in a rather hasty manner. It was not
possible for me to ask any questions, as he wished to leave
Berlin immediately. These were the bases for the questions
regarding the conditions under which a warlike action
against Czechoslovakia could or would arise.

Q. Then you had the impression that Hitler wanted to attack

A. In any event, the instructions which he gave me that
evening were to the effect that preparations for a military
action with all the preliminary work, which was the
responsibility of the General Staff, were to be made. He
expressed himself very precisely when he said that the time
was left quite open and used the words: " ... for the time
being it is not my intention."

Q. In this connection was a differentiation made between the
Sudetenland and the whole of Czechoslovakia?

A. I do not believe that we discussed it that evening during
that short conference. The Fuehrer did not discuss with me
the political aspects; he merely assigned me to consider the
necessary military measures. He did not say whether he would
be content with the Sudetenland, or whether we were to break
through the fortress of Czechoslovakia. That was not the
problem at that time. In any event, that had to be settled
by going to war, preparations for the war would have to be
made so that the clash would be with the Czechoslovakian
Army, that is, we would have to make preparations for a real

Q. You know that the record about the Hitler-General Keitel
Conference on the 21st of March, of which there are two
versions, speaks of a lightning action being necessary in
the case of an incident. In the first one after the word
"incident" it reads: "for example, the assassination of the
German Ambassador," in connection with a demonstration
hostile to Germany. In the second one, after the word
"incident" it reads only "for example, action in case of an
incident." Will you please explain to what this note, which
is not a record in the proper sense of the word, can be

A. I saw the Schmundt notes for the first time here. We did
not receive it at that time, as a document to work with. It
is not a record. These are notes made subsequently by an
adjutant. I do not doubt the correctness or the accuracy,
for memory would not permit me to recall today the exact
words which were used. However, this question, which is
considered significant here, "The assassination of the
German Ambassador in Prague," is a situation which I had
never heard of, if only for the reason that no one ever said
such a thing. They did say that the Ambassador might be
assassinated and I asked which Ambassador, or something
similar. Then, as I recall it, Hitler said that the war of
1914 also started with an assassination at Sarajevo, and
that such incidents could happen. I did not get the
impression at that time that a war was to be created through
a provocation.

Q. You will have to tell me something further on that point.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 4th April, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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