The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/30

Q. Have you finished your statement?

A. Yes. I believe that is all I want to say.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, the prosecution did not put in
this document, did it? It has not offered it in evidence.

DR. NELTE: I believe so, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: I think they must have put it to the
defendant Keitel in one of his interrogations, did they not?
Isn't that right? That does not mean that it is put in
evidence, because the interrogation itself, you see, need
not be put in evidence. You must put it in now if you want
it to go in.

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, there is some error here. This
document was put in by the prosecution here as proof of the
assertion that the defendant Keitel had given the order to
kill these paratroopers. I received the document here.

THE PRESIDENT: The prosecution will tell me if that is so,
but I cannot think of any document having been put in here
that has not had an exhibit number.

MR. DODD: We have no recollection of having put it in. Many
of these interrogations did not have document numbers, but
of course, if they were put in, they would have USA or GB
exhibit numbers.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, perhaps the best way would be for
counsel for the prosecution to verify whether it was read in

MR. DODD: That will take me a few minutes, your Honour.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I mean at your leisure. Would that be a
convenient time to break off for ten minutes?


(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn this afternoon at a
quarter to five. It will then sit again in this Court in
closed session, and it desires that both counsel for the
prosecution and counsel for the defence should be present
then, as it wishes to discuss with counsel on both sides the
best way of avoiding translating unnecessary documents.

There have, as you know, been a very great number of
documents put in and a great burden has fallen upon the
Translating Division. That is the problem which the Tribunal
wishes to discuss in closed session with counsel for the
prosecution and counsel for the defence. It will therefore,
as I say, sit here in closed session where there is room for
all the defence counsel. That is at five o'clock.

(Continuation of the direct examination of the defendant


Q. Do you remember an inquiry of the Commander-in-Chief,
West, in June, 1944 regarding the treatment of sabotage
troops behind the invasion front? A new situation was
created by the invasion, and therefore by the problem of the

A. Yes, I remember, since these documents too have been
submitted to me here and there were several documents
concerned. It is true that the Commander-in-Chief, West,
after the landing of Anglo-American forces in North France,
considered that a new situation had arisen with reference to
the Fuehrer Order of 18th October, 1942, directed against
the parachute troops.

An inquiry was held and General Jodl and I represented the
view of the Commander-in-Chief, West, namely that this order
was not applicable here. Hitler refused to accept that point
of view, and gave certain directives in reply, which,
according to the documents, had at least two editions; after
one had been cancelled as useless, the Document 551-PS
remained as the final version as approved by the Fuehrer.

                                                   [Page 28]

The reason why I remember so accurately is because on the
occasion of presenting that reply during the discussion of
the situation, this written appendix was added by General
Jodl with reference to the application of the order in the
Italian theatre also. With that appendix this version, which
was approved and demanded by Hitler, was then sent out to
the Commander-in-Chief, West.

Q. In this connection was the question discussed as to how
the active support of such acts of sabotage by the
population could be judged from the point of view of
International Law?

A. Yes, that question arose repeatedly in connection with
the order of 18th October, 1942, and the well-known leaflet
previously discussed. I am of the opinion that, according to
the Hague Regulations relating to Land Warfare any
participation in such sabotage acts by agents or other
adherents of the enemy is a violation of these regulations.
If the population takes part in, aids or supports such
action, or covers the perpetrators - hides them or helps
them in any way - in any form, that, in my opinion, is
clearly expressed in the Hague Regulations relating to Land
Warfare, namely, that the population must not commit such

Q. The French Prosecution has submitted a letter Of 3oth
July, 1944, which is Document 537-PS. This document is
concerned with the treatment of members of foreign military
missions caught together with partisans. Do you know this

A. Yes, I do. Yes, I was interrogated on this Document 537-
PS during the preliminary investigation and I made a
statement, which I will repeat here: It had been reported
that attached to the staffs of these partisans, particularly
the leaders of the Serbian and Yugoslav partisans, there had
been military missions which we were convinced were to
maintain liaison with the States with which we were at war.
This was reported to me and I had been asked what should be
done in the event of such a mission being captured. When the
Fuehrer was informed, he decided to reject the suggestions
of the military authority concerned, namely, to treat them
as prisoners of war, since according to the directive of
18th October, 1942, they were to be considered as saboteurs
and treated as such. This document is, therefore, the
transmission of this order which bears my signature.

Q. The problem of terror flyers and lynch-law has been
mentioned during the examination of Reich Marshal Goering. I
shall confine myself to a few questions which concern you
personally in connection with that problem. You know what we
are concerned with-terror flyers and their treatment? What
was your attitude to this question?

A. The fact that, starting from a certain date in the summer
of 1944, machine-gun attacks from aircraft were made against
the population has already been mentioned here. These
increased considerably, with thirty to forty victims on
certain days. As a result Hitler categorically demanded an
adequate ruling on this question. We soldiers were of the
opinion that existing regulations were sufficient, and that
new regulations were unnecessary. The question of lynch-law
was dragged into the problem and the question of what was
meant by the term "terror flyer." These two questions
resulted in the very large quantity of documents which you
all know and which contain the text of the discussion on
these subjects.

Q. I think it will not be necessary to repeat the details
which have already been discussed. In connection with your
responsibility, I am interested in the words which you have
written across one of these documents. Please, will you
explain those?

A. I merely wanted to state, first of all, that I had
suggested, following the lines of the warning issued when
prisoners of war taken by the Germans at Dieppe were
shackled, that a warning should be issued by our own side,
too, in the form of a similar official note saying that we
should make reprisals unless the enemy commanders stopped
the practice of their own accord. That was turned down as
not being a suitable course of action.

                                                   [Page 29]

And now let us turn to the documents, which are important to

Q. PS-735

A. There are some notes in handwriting made by Jodl and
myself. That is the record of a report written by me in the
margin which runs as follows: "Courts-martial won't work";
at least, that was the content. I wrote that at the time
because the question of sentence by courts-martial came up
for discussion, for the reason that this very document laid
down in detail for the first time what a terror flyer was,
and because it stated that terror attacks were always
attacks carried out from low-flying aircraft. I was led to
think that crews attacking in low-level flights could not,
generally speaking, be captured alive if they crashed, for
there is no possibility of saving oneself with a parachute
from a low-level attack. Therefore, I wrote that remark in
the margin.

Furthermore, I considered, apart from the fact that one
could not conduct proceedings against such a flyer, one
would, secondly, not be able to conclude a satisfactory
trial or a satisfactory investigation if an attack had been
carried out from a considerable height, because no court, in
my opinion, would be able to prove that such a man did have
the intention of attacking those targets which possibly were

Finally, there was one last thought, which was that in
accordance with the rules regarding court-martial
proceedings against prisoners of war, the enemy State had to
be informed through the protecting power, and three months'
grace had to be given during which the home State could
object to the sentence. It was, therefore, out of the
question that, through those channels and in so short a
time, the deterrent results desired could be achieved.

That was really what I meant.

I also wrote another note, and this refers to lynch-law: It
states: "If you allow lynching at all, then you can hardly
lay down rules for it."

To that I cannot say very much, since my conviction is that
there is no possibility of saying under what circumstances
such a method could be regulated or justified, and I am
still of the opinion that rules cannot be laid down for such

Q. But what was your attitude regarding the question of

A. It was my point of view that it was a method completely
impossible for us soldiers. One case had been reported by
the Reich Marshal in which he had prohibited any proceedings
against a soldier who had stopped such actions. I know of no
case where soldiers, with reference to their duty as
soldiers, behaved towards a prisoner of war in any other way
than that laid down in the general regulations.

I should also like to state - and this has not been
mentioned yet - that I had a discussion with Reich Marshal
Goering at the Berghof about the whole question, and he, at
that time, quite clearly agreed with me: we soldiers must
reject lynch-law under any circumstances. I requested him,
in this awkward position in which we found ourselves, to
approach Hitler once more, personally, and to try to
persuade him not to compel us to give or draft an order of
that kind. That was the situation.

Q. We now come to questions relating to prisoners of war.

A. May I just say finally that an order from the O.K.W. was
never drafted and never issued.

Q. There is hardly any problem in the law of warfare in
which all nations and all people are so passionately
interested as the prisoner-of-war question. That is why,
here too, the prosecution has stressed particularly those
cases which were violations of laws for prisoners of war,
according to the Geneva Convention, or to International Law
in general.

Since the O.K.W., and you as its Chief, were responsible for
prisoner-of-war questions in Germany, I should like to put
the following questions to you:

What had been done in Germany to make all departments and
offices of the

                                                   [Page 30]

Armed Forces acquainted with international agreements which
referred to prisoners of war?

A. There was a special military manual on that subject,
which I think is available, and which contained all the
clauses in the existing international agreements and the
provisions for carrying them out. That is, I think,
Directive No. 38, which applied to the Army and the Navy,
and also to the Air Force. That was the basis, the basic

Q. How was that put into practice? Was it the practice to
inform those concerned with such questions or was it
sufficient to draw their attention to the Army directives?

A. Every department, right down to the smallest unit, had
these instructions and every, soldier, up to a point, was
instructed on them. Apart from that, no further explanations
and regulations were issued at the beginning of the war.

Q. I am thinking of the courses of instructions instituted
in Vienna for that particular purpose. Do you know of them?
Do you know that they took place in Vienna?

A. It is known to me that such matters were the subject of
courses of instruction for those people who were actually in
contact with prisoner-of-war matters ... they took the form
of training courses.

Q. Is it, furthermore, correct that every soldier had a
leaflet in his pay book?

A Yes. That was confirmed by General Milch the other day,
who had one with him.

Q. When were the first instructions regarding prisoners of
war given in your case?

A . As far as I know, the first instructions appeared after
the beginning of the Polish Campaign in the East, since
every preparatory measure for reception of prisoners of war
had been rejected by Hitler. He had prohibited it.
Afterwards things had to be improvised at very short notice.

Q. What was ordered?

A. It was ordered that the three services, the Navy, Army
and the Air Force - the latter only to a limited extent but
particularly the Army - should make appropriate preparations
for camps, guard and whatever was necessary for the
establishment and the organisation of such services.

Q. Please tell us what were the functions of the O.K.W.
regarding the treatment of prisoners of war?

A. The principal instruction was treatment according to rule
KGW-38 based on international agreements; in my opinion it
contained absolutely everything which the people concerned
had to know. Apart from that, no additional instructions
were issued at that time, but the above rule was applied.

Q. I should like to know first of all how far the O.K.W. had
jurisdiction regarding the treatment of prisoners of war.

A. The O.K.W. was, shall I say, the ministerial directing
department which had to issue and prepare all basic
regulations and directives concerning these questions. It
was entitled to make sure, by means of inspections and
surprise visits, that the instructions were carried out. In
other words, it was the head office which issued directives
and was entitled to make inspections, but was not in command
of the camps themselves.

Q. Should one not add the contact with the Foreign Office?

A. Of course, I forgot that. One of the main tasks of the
entire Armed Forces, and therefore of the Navy and Air Force
too, was to communicate with the protecting powers, through
the Foreign Office, and also to communicate with the
International Red Cross and all agencies interested in the
welfare of prisoners of war. I had forgotten that.

Q. Therefore the O.K.W. was, generally speaking, the
legislator and the control organ.

A. That is correct.

                                                   [Page 31]

Q. What did the branches of the Armed Forces have to do?

A. The Navy and the Air Force had camps under their command,
which were restricted to prisoners of war belonging to their
own services; and so did the Army. But owing to the large
numbers belonging to the Army, their camps were under the
deputy commanding generals of the home front, that is the
commanders of the Wehrkreis.

Q. Now, let us take the prisoner-of-war camps. Who was at
the head of such a camp?

A., In the Wehrkreis command there was a commander for
prisoners-of-war affairs in the Wehrkreis concerned and the
camp itself was under the charge of a camp commandant who
had a small staff of officers, among them an intelligence
officer and similar personnel who were necessary for such

Q. Who was the superior officer of the commander for
prisoner-of-war affairs in the Wehrkreis?

A. The commander of the Wehrkreis.

Q. Who was the superior of the Wehrkreis commander?

A. The Wehrkreis commanders were under the Commander-in-
Chief of the Home Army and the Reserve, and he in turn under
the Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 5th April, 1946, at 10.00

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