The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Then you mean the O.K.W. had no jurisdiction over these

A. No, they had not.

Q. It was a question of merely transmitting letters to the
military establishments to make known Hitler's wishes to
assist Rosenberg in his task?

A. That is correct.

Q. I should like to put a personal question to you in this
connection. Have you ever appropriated to yourself any of
the art treasures from public or private ownership in the
occupied countries, or did any official establishment hand
over to you any work of art?

A. No, I never had anything to do with these things.

Q. We now come to the so-called economic exploitation of
occupied territories. You are accused of participating in
your official position as Chief of the O.K.W. in the
economic exploitation of the Eastern occupied countries and
the Western occupied countries. This question has already
been dealt with in Reich Marshal Goering's testimony and
cross-examination, so I can treat it relatively briefly. It
is, however, necessary for you to clarify the extent to
which the O.K.W., and yourself in particular, were connected
with these matters, for both the O.K.W. and you yourself are
mentioned in this connection, as well as the
Wirtschaftsrustungsamt (economic armament office), which was
a branch of the O.K.W. General Thomas of that office
prepared a compilation which was produced by the
prosecution. What can you say about this question, if I have
Document 1157-PS and Exhibit USSR 80 shown to you?

A. 1157-PS deals with Plan Barbarossa Oldenburg. I would
like to say this:

The Wehrmachtsamt, which even then was no longer known as
the Wirtschaftsrustungsamt, carried out under its chief,
General Thomas, certain preparations, first for the campaign
in the West and, later, for campaign Barbarossa in the East.
They were based on the military economic organisation at
home, in the Reich, which had an establishment attached to
all Wehrkreiskommandos. As a result, advisers and some
personnel, with experience in problems of war economy
supplies, and a few small detachments called
Feldwirtschaftskommandos (army economic detachments) were
assigned to the high command posts, the A.O.Ks.

The personnel attached to the quartermaster staffs at the
A.O.K. were responsible

                                                   [Page 42]
for securing or causing to be secured supplies, fuel, and
food stuffs found in occupied or conquered territories, as
well as other articles suitable for the immediate
requirements of the troops. They then co-operated with the
Chief of the Supply Service, in charge of army supplies, and
the intendant in charge of the transport of supplies, in
making them available for the fighting troops. Information
obtained regarding war economy in the areas of France and
Belgium - as far as such information could be obtained - was
kept for later use. The East, as I believe Reich Marshal
Goering has already explained at length, was organised on
quite a different basis, with a view not only to supplying
the troops, but also to exploiting the conquered
territories. An organisation for this purpose, called
Wirtschafts Organisation Ost Oldenburg (economic
organisation East-Oldenburg), was established. Its
connection with the O.K.W. lay in the fact that the
necessary preparations for organising and developing panels
of experts and technical branch offices had to be discussed
with the Ministry of Economics, the authorities responsible
for the Four-Year Plan and the Ministry of Food. That was
Wirtschafts Organisation Ost Oldenburg. The O.K.W. and its
Chief - in this case myself - had no power to give orders or
instructions affecting its activities. The organisation was
created and placed at the disposal of those responsible for
putting it in action, giving it instructions and working
with it. If General Thomas wrote in his book, which was
produced here as a document -

Q. Document 2535-PS, Page 386. Perhaps you will just read
that, so that you can give us a summary.

A. Yes. This is an excerpt from General Thomas's book, where
he describes in detail his own functions and those of the
organisation which he directed in the O.K.W., from its
establishment up to a later stage in the war. He says here:
"The functions exercised by the Economic Armaments Branch
(Wirtschaftsrustungsamt) while the Eastern campaign was
going on consisted merely in directing the organisation of
the machinery set in motion, keeping it running and acting
in an advisory capacity to the Operations Staff for War

Q. You need read only paragraph 4 for your summary.

A. The Operations Staff for War Economy, included under the
Four-Year Plan as Barbarossa-Oldenburg, was responsible for
the entire economic direction of the whole of the Eastern
area. It was also responsible for the technical instructions
of the State Secretaries in the Operations Staff for War
Economy, for the organisation of Thomas's Armaments Economic
Staff and for applying all measures to be taken by the
Operations Staff for War Economy Ost under the direction and
command of the Reich Marshal.

Q. How were conditions in the West?

A. I described very briefly the small group of experts
attached to the A.O.K. Quartermaster Corps in the West.
Later on, as I have already stated, at the beginning of
June, the entire economic direction was transferred to the
Four-Year Plan and the Plenipotentiaries for the Four-Year
Plan, as far as anything beyond current supplies intended to
cover daily requirements, fuel, etc. This was done by a
special decree, which has already been mentioned by the
Reich Marshal.

Q. That was laid down by General Thomas on Page 304 in
Document 2535-PS, which we have already mentioned. There is
no need for me to read this; and I request the Tribunal to
allow me to present the accused's affidavit in Document Book
No. 2 for the Military Economic Armaments Branch of the
O.K.W., so that no further questions on the subject may be
necessary. I assume that the prosecution will agree to this

THE PRESIDENT: What number is it in Book 2?

DR. NELTF: No. 4 in this Document Book No. 2. It is Page 27
and following. The document is dated 29th March, 1946.

THE PRESIDENT: What date did you say it is?

DR. NELTE: The 29th March, 1946. I do not think there is any
date in the document book. I will present the original,
which I have here.

                                                   [Page 43]

THE PRESIDENT: How is it described in the document itself?
We have a document dated 4th March, 1946, "The Economic
Armament Office of the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht." Is
that right?

DR. NELTE: The document was written on 4th March, 1946, but
the affidavit was added on 29th March, 1946.

THE PRESIDENT: But that appears to have been the 8th March?
Is it that document?

DR. NELTE: The Wirtschaftsrustungsamt in the O.K.W. It is

THE PRESIDENT: That is here.

DR. NELTE: In any case, there is no doubt about the identity
of the document.


Q. Now I come to a topic which is presented again and again
before the High Tribunal, and which is very difficult
because the reason for these questions is not properly

The charge has been made against you that in your capacity
as a member of the government, as the prosecution contends,
you knew, or must have known, of the existence of the
concentration camps. I am compelled to ask you what you know
about the existence of the concentration camps, how much you
knew and what you had to do with them. Did you know of their
existence? Did you know that concentration camps existed?

A. Yes, I knew even before the war that concentration camps
existed. At that time I knew only two of them by name, but I
supposed and assumed that there were other concentration
camps besides these. I had no further particulars about
their existence. As far as internees in such camps were
concerned, I knew that they included habitual criminals and
political opponents. As Reich Marshal Goering has said, that
was the basis of their institution.

Q. Did you hear anything about the treatment of internees?

A. No, I heard nothing about it. I assumed that there was a
severe form of detention, or that this was so in certain
cases, but I knew nothing about the actual conditions,
especially ill-treatment or torture of internees, etc.

I tried in two cases to free individuals who were in
concentration camps. One was Pastor Niemoeller, in co-
operation with Admiral Raeder. With the help of Canaris, and
at the request of Admiral Raeder, I tried to get Pastor
Niemoeller out of the concentration camp. The attempt was
unsuccessful. In another case - at the request of a family
in my home village - a farmer was in a concentration camp
for political reasons. In this case I was successful, and
the person concerned was set free. That was in the autumn of
1940. I had a talk with this man, and when I asked him what
things were like there he gave me a non-committal reply to
the effect that he had been all right. He gave me no
details. I know of no other cases.

Q. When you talked to this man did you get the impression
that nothing had happened to him?

A. Undoubtedly. I did not see him directly after his
release, but later, when I was at home. The reason that I
talked to him was because he came to thank me. He said
nothing about being badly treated or anything like that at

Q. It has been stated here that now and again these
concentration camps were visited by members of the services,
the leading high-ranking officers. How do you explain that?

A. I am convinced that these visits took place on Himmler's
invitation. I myself once received A personal invitation
from him at Munich to pay a visit to the Dachau camp. He
said he would like to show it to me. I know also that large
and small groups of officers were shown through the camps. I
think I need scarcely say how these visits were handled as
regards the things that were shown to them. To supplement my
statement I would like to say it was not impossible to hear
such remarks as "You will end up in a concentration camp!"
or "All sorts of things go on there." I do know, however,
that whenever anyone came to me

                                                   [Page 44]

with these rumours and stories and I asked what exactly they
knew, and where the information came from, the reply was
always: "I really do not know; I just heard it." So that
whatever one might think, one never got at the facts and
never could get at them.

Q. You heard that medical experiments were made on these
internees, and that this was done by agreement with higher
quarters. I ask you whether you had knowledge of that,
either personally or from the High Command.

A. No, I never heard anything about the medical experiments
on internees, which have been described here in detail,
either officially or otherwise.

Q. I turn now to the complicated question relating to the
prosecution's assertion that you intended to have General
Weygand and General Giraud assassinated, or, at least, were
participating in plans to that end.

You know that Witness Lahousen, on 30th November, 1945, made
the following statement:

  "Admiral Canaris has been pressed by you for some time -
  November-December, 1940 - to do away with the Chief of
  the French General Staff, General Weygand."

Lahousen added that Canaris told his departmental heads that
after a talk with you.

Did you discuss the case of General Weygand with Canaris?

A. That is probably correct, for there were intelligence
reports at the time that General Weygand was travelling in
North Africa, and inspecting the colonial troops. I consider
it quite natural that I should have told Canaris, who was
the Chief of Counter Intelligence, that it should be
possible to determine the object of his journey, the places
at which he stopped in North Africa, and whether any
military significance would be attached to this visit, as
regards putting colonial troops into action or the
introduction of other measures in North Africa. He would
have received instructions, to try to get information
through his intelligence department as to what was taking

Q. I assume - also to keep an eye on him?

A. Yes.

Q. Could the Counter Intelligence Department send members of
its staff to North Africa?

A. I believe that certain channels of information existed
via Spanish Morocco; and I know that Canaris maintained
intelligence links with Morocco by way of Spain.

Q. My question was meant to find out whether it was
officially possible to visit North Africa after the
agreement with France.

A. Of course it was possible. After the armistice, there
were Disarmament Commissions in North Africa, as well as in
France. We had several army departments there in connection
with checking up the armaments of the North African troops.

Q. What was the point - or was there any point - in wishing
General Weygand ill? Was he a declared opponent of the
policy Germany wished to carry through? What was the reason?

A. We had no reason to think that General Weygand might be -
shall we say - inconvenient. In view of the connection with
Marshal Petain, which was started about the end of September
and the beginning of October of that year, and the well-
known collaboration policy which reached its height in the
winter of 1940-1, it was absurd even to think of doing away
with Marshal Petain's Chief of Staff. An action of this kind
would not have fitted into the general policy followed in
dealing with the situation in North Africa. We released a
large number of officers in the regular French Colonial Army
from French prisoner-of-war camps in the winter of 1940-1
for service with the colonial forces. There were generals
among them; I remember General Juin in particular who, as we
knew at the time,

                                                   [Page 45]

had been Chief of the General Staff in North Africa for many
years. At my suggestion he was put at the disposal of the
Marshal by Hitler, obviously with the aim of utilising his
services in connection with colonial troops. There was not
the slightest motive for wishing General Weygand ill or to
think of anything of the sort.

Q. Is it correct that conferences even took place with the
French General Staff and Laval about co-operating in
operations in Africa and the strengthening of West Africa?

A. Yes. Among the documents of the French Armistice
Delegation there must be a large number of documents asking
for all sorts of concessions in connection with North Africa
and more especially Central and West Africa, owing to the
fact that during the winter of 1940-1 riots had taken place
in French Central Africa and the French Government wanted to
take measures against these.

I believe that in the spring of 1941 a conference lasting
several days took place in Paris with the French General
Staff in order to prepare measures in which the German
Wehrmacht, which already had troops stationed in Tripoli in
the Italian area, would participate.

Q. So there was no apparent point?

A. No.

Q. Something must have been said, however, in this
conversation with Canaris, which led to this
misunderstanding. Can you suggest anything which might have
caused this misunderstanding?

A. It can only be because, according to the very
comprehensive details given by Lahousen in his testimony, I
said at a later meeting, "What about Weygand?" That was the
phrase Lahousen used; and he might have drawn the conclusion
that, perhaps, in that sense of the word, as he represented
it - he kept on saying "in that sense of the word," and when
asked what that meant, he said, "To kill him." It is only
due to that - it can only be due to that. I must say that
Canaris was frequently alone with me. Sometimes he brought
the chiefs of his departments along. When we discussed
matters by ourselves, I thought he was always perfectly
frank with me. If he had misunderstood me, it would
certainly have been apparent in the discussion, but he never
said anything like that.

Q. Is it clear to you that if there had been any idea of
putting Weygand out of the way, it would have constituted an
act of high political significance?

A. Yes, of course. In the collaboration of Hitler and Petain
an act of that kind would have had the greatest possible
political significance imaginable.

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