The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/30

DR. NELTE: And UK-25?


DR. NELTE: And 1588-PS?

THE PRESIDENT: We have got them all. The only thing that I
was pointing out to you was that the description of them is
inadequate to explain to us what they mean and what they
are. Perhaps by a word or two you can indicate to us, when
you come to the document, what it is about.

DR. NELTE: Document UK-25, regarding which the defendant
Keitel is about to testify, is an order signed by him of
16th September, 1941, regarding "Communist Uprisings in the
Occupied Territories." It contains, among other things, the
sentence: "The Fuehrer has now ordered that most severe
measures should be taken everywhere in order to crush this
movement as soon as possible."

The French Prosecution asserted that on the basis of this
order, Hostage Legislation was promulgated in France. This
is contained in Document 1588-PS. If

                                                   [Page 23]

you have this document, you will find on the third page
regulations regarding the taking and treatment of hostages.


Q. The defendant is to state whether such a connection did
exist and to what extent the O.K.W. and he himself were
competent in these matters at all.

A. Document UK-25, the Fuehrer Order of 16th September,
1941, is, as you have just heard, concerned with Communist
uprisings in occupied territories, and the fact that this is
a Fuehrer order has already been mentioned. I must clarify
the fact that this order, so far as its contents are
concerned, was directed solely to the Eastern regions,
particularly the Balkan countries. I believe that I can
prove this by the fact that there is attached to this
document a distribution list, i.e. a list of the regions to
which it pertains, beginning: "Wehrmacht Commanders,
Southeast, for Serbia, Southern Greece and Crete." This was,
of course, transmitted also to other Wehrmacht commanders
and also to the O.K.H. with the possibility of passing it on
to its subordinate officers. I believe that this document,
which, for the sake of saving time, I shall not read here,
has several indications that the assumption on the part of
the French Prosecution that the basis for the hostage law is
to be found in Document 1588-PS is false, and that there is
no basic connection between the two. Also, the date of this
hostage law is September, the number is hard to read, but,
as can be seen from its contents, these two matters are, in
my opinion, not connected. Moreover, the two military
commanders in France and Belgium never received this order
from the O.K.W. but they may have received it through the
O.K.H., a matter which I cannot check on because I do not

Regarding this order of 16th September, 1941, I should like
to say that its considerable strictness can be traced back
to the personal influence of the Fuehrer, and the fact that
it is concerned with the Eastern region, which is to be seen
already in the introduction, and does not need to be
substantiated any further. It is correct to say that this
order of 16th September, 1941, is signed by me.

Q. We come now to the second individual fact: "Nacht und
Nebel." The prosecution charges you with having participated
in the "Nacht und Nebel" decree of 12th December, 1941,
Document L-90 -

A. May I say one more thing regarding the other question?

Q. Please, if it appears to be necessary. In the order of
2nd February, 1942, we find the words: "A decree of the
Fuehrer of 7th December, 1941." You wanted to say something
more; if it is important, please, have you Document L-90?

A. L-90, yes.

Q. What was the cause for this order, so terrible in its

A. I must state that it is perfectly clear to me that the
connection of my name with this so-called "Nacht und Nebel"
order is a serious charge against me, even though it can be
seen from the order that it is a Fuehrer order. Consequently
I should like to state how this order came about. From the
beginning of the Eastern campaign and in the late autumn of
1941 until the spring of 1942, the resistance movement,
sabotage and everything connected with it, increased to a
very great extent in all the occupied territories. From the
military angle it meant that the security troops were tied
down, having to be kept on the spot by the unrest. That is
how I saw it from the military point of view. And day by
day, through the daily reports we could picture the
sequences of events in the individual occupation sectors.

It was impossible to handle this summarily; rather, Hitler
demanded that he be informed of each individual occurrence,
and he was very displeased if such matters were concealed
from him in the reports by military authorities. He got to
know about them all the same.

In this connection he said to me that it was very
displeasing to him and very unfavourable to pacification;
that, owing to this, death sentences by court-martial
against saboteurs and their accomplices were increasing;
that he did not wish this

                                                   [Page 24]

to occur, as from his point of view it merely made
pacification and relations with the population more
difficult. He said that pacification could only be achieved
if sabotage decreased; that, instead of death sentences -
if, as stated in the decree, a death sentence could not be
expected and carried out - and instead of lengthy court-
martial proceedings with numerous witnesses, the suspect or
guilty persons concerned (if one may use the word "guilty")
should be deported to Germany without their families
knowing, and be interned or imprisoned.

I expressed the greatest misgivings in this matter and know
very well that I said at that time that I feared exactly the
opposite results to those apparently hoped for. I then had
serious discussions with the legal adviser of the Wehrmacht,
who had similar scruples, because there an ordinary legal
procedure was excluded. I tried again to prevent this order
being issued, or to have it modified. My efforts were in
vain. The threat was made to me that the Minister of Justice
would be commissioned to issue a corresponding decree,
should the Wehrmacht not be able to do so. May I refer to
details only in so far as this order L-90 contains the
possibilities of preventing arbitrary application, and these
were as follows:

The general principles of the order provided that such
deportation or abduction into Reich territory should take
place only after a regular court-martial proceeding, and
that in every case the judge, that is, the divisional
commander, together with his legal adviser, must deal with
the matter in the legal way, after preliminary. proceedings.

I must say that I believed then that every arbitrary and
excessive application of these principles was avoided by
this provision. You will perhaps agree with me that the
words in the order, "It is the will of the Fuehrer, after
long consideration...," were not written in vain and not
without the hope that the military commanders concerned
would also recognise from this that this was a method of
which we did not approve and which I did not consider to be

Finally we introduced a verification procedure into the
order so that through the higher channels of appeal, i.e.
the Military C.-in-C. in France and the Supreme Command or
Commander of the Army, it would be possible to try the case
legally by court-martial if the verdict seemed open to
question within the meaning of the decree. I learned here
for the first time the full extent of the tragedy, viz.:
that this order, which was only intended for the Wehrmacht
and for the sole purpose of determining whether a criminal
who faced a sentence in jail might be made to disappear by
means of this "Nacht und Nebel" procedure, was obviously
applied universally by the police, as testified by witnesses
whom I have heard here, and according to the indictment
which I also heard; and so the horrible fact of the
existence of whole camps full of people deported through the
"Nacht und Nebel" procedure has been proved.

In my opinion, the Wehrmacht, at least, I and the military
commanders of the occupied territories who participated, did
not know of this in the drafting of this order. At any rate
I was not informed of it. Therefore, this order, which in
itself was undoubtedly very dangerous and disregarded
certain requirements of law such as we understood it, was
able to develop into that formidable affair of which the
prosecution has spoken.

The intention was to take those who were to be deported from
their home country to Germany, because Hitler was of the
opinion that penal servitude in war-time would not be
considered by the persons concerned as dishonourable, in
cases where it was a question of so-called patriots. It
would be felt as a short detention which would end when the
war was over.

These reflections have already been made in part in the
note. If you have any further questions, please put them.

Q. The order for the carrying out of this "Nacht und Nebel"
policy, states that the Gestapo was to carry out the
transportation of the condemned to Germany. You stated that
the people who came to Germany were to be turned over to the
Minister of Justice, that is, in normal custody. You will
understand that by your

                                                   [Page 25]

reference to the Gestapo certain suspicions are raised that
it was known from the start what happened to these people.
Can you say anything in elucidation of that matter?

A. Yes. The order that was given at that time was that these
people should be turned over to the German legal
authorities. This document signed "by order of ." and then
the signature, was issued 8 weeks later than the decree
itself by the Amt Auslands-Abwehr, as I can see from my
official correspondence. It indicated the agreements, which
had to be reached at that time, regarding the method by
which these people were to be taken from their native
countries to Germany. They were apparently conducted by this
Amt Abwehr which evidently ordered police detachments as

I might mention in this connection - as I must have
witnessed it - that it did not seem objectionable at that
time, because I had no reason to assume that these people
were being turned over to the Gestapo - frankly speaking -
to be liquidated, but that the Gestapo was simply being used
as the medium in charge of the transportation to Germany. I
should like to emphasise that particularly, so that there
can be no doubt that it was not our idea to do away with the
people in the way that it was carried out later in that
"Nacht und Nebel" camp.

Q. We come now to the question of parachutists, sabotage
troops, and commando operations. The French Prosecution
treats in detail the origin and effect of the two Fuehrer
orders of 18th October, 1942, regarding the treatment of

DR. NELTE: (to the Tribunal) Has the Tribunal a copy of this
Fuehrer order? It is 498 -

THE PRESIDENT: We haven't got a copy of the order. You mean
553-PS or 498?

DR. NELTE: The second is 553-PS

THE PRESIDENT: We have got that, "Combating of individual
parachutists, Decree of 4.8.42."

DR. NELTE: Could you please repeat your statement? What you
just said did not come through.

THE PRESIDENT: 553-PS, "Combating of individual
parachutists, Decree of 4.8.42." That is what we have,
nothing else. You also have 498 -

Q. 553-PS is a notice signed by Keitel. The French
Prosecution has assumed correctly that there is some
connection between this document and the Fuehrer order of
18th October, 1942. The defendant is to testify what were
the reasons that lay behind this Fuehrer order and this

A. First of all, Document 553-PS, the notice: This notice
was published by me in August, 1942. As in the description
given by me in connection with the "Nacht und Nebel" decree,
sabotage acts, the dropping of agents by parachute, the
parachuting of arms, ammunition, explosives, radio sets and
small groups of saboteurs reached greater and greater
proportions. They were dropped at night from aircraft in
thinly populated regions. This activity covered the whole
area governed by Germany at that time. It extended from
France over to Czechoslovakia and Poland, and from the East,
as far as the Berlin area.

Of course a large number of the people involved in these
actions were captured and much of the material was taken.
This memorandum was to rally all establishments outside the
Wehrmacht, police and civilian authorities to the service
against these methods, these new methods, which were, to our
way of thinking, illegal, a sort of "war in the dark." Even
today, after reading this document through again - it has
already been given to me here - I consider this memorandum
unobjectionable. It expressly provides that members of enemy
forces, if captured by the police, should be taken to the
nearest Wehrmacht office after being identified.

I know that in the French sector, the French police did
their full share in arresting these troops and putting them
in safe custody. They collaborated in preventing these acts
of sabotage. It will perhaps make clear how extensive these
activities were if I mention that on certain days there were
as many as a hundred railroads blown up in this way. That is
in the memorandum.

                                                   [Page 26]

Now, as to the Fuehrer's orders of 18th October, 1942, which
have been mentioned very often here and which I may describe
as the further development of the regulations mentioned in
this memorandum. These illegal methods of fighting kept on
increasing, and individual parachutists grew into small
commando units who landed from heavy aircraft or by
parachute, and were systematically employed not to create
disturbances or destruction in general but to attack
specific, vital and important military objectives. In Norway
for instance, I recall that they had the task of blowing up
the aluminium works. It may sound strange, but during this
period, half to three-quarters of an hour of the daily
discussion on the situation was devoted to the problem of
how to handle these incidents. These incidents in all
sectors caused the Fuehrer to demand other methods, vigorous
measures, to combat this activity, which he characterised as
"terrorism" and said that the only method that could be used
to combat it was severe counter-measures. I recall that in
reply to our objections as soldiers, the following words
were spoken: "As long as the paratrooper or saboteur runs
the danger only of being taken captive, he incurs no risk;
in normal circumstances he risks nothing; we must take
action against this."

These were the reasons behind his thoughts. I was asked
several times to express myself on this subject. General
Jodl will also recall this. We did not know what we, as
soldiers, were to do. We could make no suggestion.

If I may sum up briefly, we heard Hitler's temperamental
explosions on this subject almost every day, but we did
nothing, not knowing what we could do. Hitler declared that
this was against the Hague Convention and illegal, that it
was a method of waging war not envisaged in the Hague
Convention and which could not be foreseen. He said that
this was a new war with which we had to contend and that new
counter-measures would be needed.

Then, to make it short, as I have already testified in the
preliminary investigation, these orders - this order itself
and the well-known instructions, that those who did not
carry out the first order should be punished - were issued
in a concise form and signed by Hitler. They were then
distributed, I believe, by the Chief of the Operations
Staff. I might add that many times the commanders who
received these orders asked questions about how they were to
be applied, particularly in connection with the threat that
they would be punished if they did not carry them out. The
only reply we could make was: "You know what is in the
orders," for we were not in a position to change these
signed orders.

Q. The prosecution has accused you personally of having
issued the order to kill the English saboteurs captured in
the commando operations at Stavanger. In this connection I
submit to you Documents 498-PS, 508-PS, and 527-PS.

DR. NELTE: This, Mr. President, was a commando mission in
the neighbourhood of Stavanger. The troops who fell into
German hands alive had to be killed, according to the
Fuehrer decree. There was a remote possibility of
interrogating these persons if that was demanded by military
necessity. In this case the Commander-in-Chief in Norway,
General von Falkenhorst, dealt with the matter. He turned to
the O.K.W., as he has already testified in the minutes of an

Q. Would you make any statement in this connection?

A. I was interrogated on this subject, and in the course of
the interrogation, I was confronted with General von
Falkenhorst. As far as I can remember he did not ask me
questions regarding the carrying-out of this order. I did
not know of it. Even the event itself was no longer in my
memory, and I remembered it again only after  I had seen the
documents. During the interrogation, I told the
interrogating judge that I had no authority to change that
order; that I could only refer any one concerned to the
order, as such.

As regards General Falkenhorst, I should like to say only
what is stated here in the minutes: "He obviously shelved
the questions, and altered his earlier statements, but did
not deny them." He said, "Keitel did not deny having had
this talk with me but he denied that the subject of it was
what I said."

                                                   [Page 27]

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, I can only say that this is a
summary of the interrogation of Falkenhorst, a document
which was submitted by the prosecution without having a
document number.

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