The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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THE PRESIDENT: The defendant has already spent a very long
time in explaining the difference between the O.K.W. and the
staff of the various commands, and the prosecution have
defined specifically and quite clearly what the group is,
which they are asking the Court to declare as criminal, and,
therefore, I do not see what relevance any further evidence
on the subject can have. What are you trying to show by
asking him now about what he understands by the General

DR. LATERNSER: This question was purely preparatory. I
intended to connect this question with another one and, by
the answer to the second question, I wanted to prove that
under the alleged group, a group has been accused under a
wrong name.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not see how it matters if it is a wrong
name if the group is specified. But, anyhow, the defendant
has already told us what he understands by the General
Staff. Will you put your second question?

                                                   [Page 54]


Q. Witness, if the higher military leaders are considered
collectively to form one group, which is designated as
General Staff and O.K.W., do you consider this designation
to be correct or misleading?

A. According to our German military concepts this
designation is misleading, because to us the General Staff
always means a body of assistants, whereas the commanders-in-
chief of armies and army groups are commanding generals and
represent the Leadership Corps.

Q. The military hierarchy has been discussed sufficiently in
this trial. I only want to know the following from you:

Was the relation of these groups to each other that of
military superiors and subordinates or did there exist an
additional organisation embracing these ranks which went
beyond purely professional military duties?

A. No, the General Staff - that is to say, the General Staff
officers as assistants to the leaders - could be recognised
by their uniforms as such. The leaders or so-called
commanders themselves had no relation to each other through
any inter-office organisation or through any other organised
establishment of any kind.

Q. Yesterday the affidavit made by General Halder was put to
you. I would now like to discuss the last sentence of that
affidavit; I shall read it to you:

  "That was the actual General Staff and the highest
  leadership of the Armed Forces."

Is the statement in that sentence correct or incorrect?

A. I understand it this way, that Halder wanted to say that
those few officers who had General Staff positions were the
ones who did the real work in the General Staff of the Armed
Forces, while the rest of the far more than one hundred
General Staff officers in the O.K.H. had nothing to do with
these matters. That is what I think he had in mind - a small
group which was concerned with these problems.

Q. Do you know of a single occasion on which Hitler ever
consulted a military leader in a political matter?

A. No, that did not happen.

Q. I assume that you were present, at least most of the
time, at the conference with Hitler, where the situation was
discussed. Could you tell me anything about counter-
proposals made, with or without success, by any Commanders-
in-Chief who had come from the front and
who happened to be present?

A. As a rule, front Commanders-in-Chief who were present
were silent listeners at the general discussion of the
situation, and afterwards, according to circumstances, such
commanders used to make a report to Hitler about their
respective areas. This was also the opportunity which, I
believe, was mentioned by Kesselring, to discuss these
things personally and to utter opinions. But otherwise
nobody had anything to say in these matters.

Q. Witness, were you ever present when particularly emphatic
objections were raised by any Commander-in-Chief to Hitler?

A. During the discussion of the situation?

Q. No, whatever the occasion may have been.

A. I was not, of course, present at every conference which
Hitler had with high ranking commanders and Commanders-in-
Chief in his quarters, but I do not know of any such
incidents. I have related in detail those cases which played
a role in this war, namely the opposition of the generals in
the West, before the beginning of the war, and I understood
your question to mean whether I knew of any cases beyond

Q. Yes.

A. I have related all that and must emphasise once more that
the Commander-in-Chief of the Army at that time went to the
limit of anything which could be justified from the military

Q. What was the attitude of Hitler towards the General Staff
of the Army

                                                   [Page 55]

A. It was not a good one. One may say that he had a
prejudice against the General Staff and thought the General
Staff was arrogant. I believe that is sufficient.

THE PRESIDENT: We have heard all this once, if not more than

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I do not believe that this
witness has been asked about that. As far as I remember,
this particular witness has not been asked about this point.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks he has been asked about

DR. LATERNSER: I would have noticed if this point had come
up. I would have crossed off this question if one of my
colleagues had put it before.

Q. Would Hitler, in case an application for resignation were
tendered by one or more front commanders, have been willing
to take back an order which he had once given?

THE PRESIDENT: Nearly every officer who has come and given
evidence to this Court has spoken about that subject,
certainly many of them.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, does your objection refer to
the question I have put now?

THE, PRESIDENT: Nearly all the officers who have been
examined in this Court have told us it was impossible to
resign. That is what you are asking about, is it not?

DR. LATERNSER: Yes, I will be glad to forgo that question,
if I can assume that the Tribunal accepts those facts as
true, as I wanted to prove.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks it is cumulative; whether
it accepts its truth or not, is a different question.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, also to this question I should
like to say something. I do not believe that it can be
considered cumulative, since, as it has already been pointed
out by my colleague, Dr. Dix, the same question when put to
two different witnesses is in each case a different
question, because the subjective answer of the individual
witness to this particular point is desired. But I will
forgo that question.

THE PRESIDENT: Is there any other question you want to ask?

DR. LATERNSER: Yes, I have a few more questions.

Q. Witness, to what extent was the headquarters of the
Fuehrer protected against attacks?

A. There was a special guard detachment of the Army and
also, I believe, one company of the Waffen S.S. Very
thorough security measures had been taken with every kind of
safety device such as fences, obstacles and similar things.
It was very well secured against any surprise attack.

Q. Were there several zones?

A. Yes, there was an inner zone and an outer zone-several
areas which were fenced in separately.

Q. You have already stated that the Commanders-in-Chief Army
Groups and Armies in the East did not have any authority
outside their area of operation. Was there a tendency to
keep that operational area as small as possible, or as large
as possible?

A. Originally the tendency definitely was to have large
areas of operation, in order to ensure the greatest possible
freedom of movement in the rear of the armies and army
groups. The Fuehrer was the first who, by drastic means, saw
to it that these zones were limited.

Q. To make them as small as possible?

A. Yes.

Q. For what reasons?

A. As he said, in order to free military officers from
administrative measures and get them out of the over-
extensive territories for which they had been responsible
and to concentrate them within narrower limits.

Q. You mentioned, during your interrogation, units of the
Waffen S.S. which

                                                   [Page 56]

were assigned to the Army for operational, i.e. for combat,
purposes. I am particularly interested in getting that point
clear because, as far as I can see, some confusion still
prevails. Did the special action groups of the S.D. have
anything to do with the units of the Waffen S.S. which were
subordinated to army units for the purpose of operational

A. No, the units of the Waffen S.S. within the combined
divisional forces were incorporated as such into the
combined forces of the Army, and had nothing to do with
anything else. They were in that case purely members of the

Q. Was it possible for a Commander-in-Chief to punish an
S.S. man for any offence?

A. If a man was caught in the act I believe no Commander-in-
Chief would have hesitated; but apart from that, the last
resort for disciplinary measures and jurisdiction was the
Reichsfuehrer, Himmler, and not the Commanders-in-Chief of
the Army.

Q. Did the executives of the special action groups of the
S.D. have to report to the Commanders-in-Chief of the armies
upon what they did in accordance with Himmler's orders?

A. This question has been dealt with here in great detail by
the witness Ohlendorf, and I do not know what were the
connections which existed between the Commanders-in-Chief
and the special action groups and special action commandos.
I was not involved and took no part in it.

Q. That is not what I wanted to hear from you, Field
Marshal. I wanted to know whether the special action groups
of the S.D., according to your knowledge of the regulations,
were obliged to report to the military commanders in whose
rear areas they had carried out some special action.

A. I do not believe so; I do not know the orders which were
in force in this respect; I have not seen them.

Q. Do you know whether the higher military commanders at any
time were informed of the intention of Hitler or Himmler to
exterminate the Jews?

A. In my opinion, that was not the case, since I personally
was not informed either.

Q. Now, I have only one more question concerning the
prisoner-of-war complex. It became known during the war that
the conditions relating to the food supply of Soviet
prisoners of war during the first period of the Eastern
campaign were miserable. What accounted for the conditions
prevailing during that first period?

A. I can base my statement only on what the Commander-in-
Chief of the Army said during the situation report
conferences, at which he was almost invariably present. As I
recall, he repeatedly reported that it was clearly a problem
of vast numbers, for whom it required extraordinary efforts
of organisation to provide food supplies, housing and

Q. These conditions were without doubt chaotic during a
certain period of time. I am thinking of one particular
reason, and in order to refresh your memory, witness, I
would like to mention the following:

The Army had already prepared camps in the Reich for the
future prisoners of war, because it was planned in the
beginning that these prisoners should be transferred there.
In spite of these preparations, however, as has been stated
here, this action was negatived by a sudden order from
Hitler which prohibited such a transfer of Soviet prisoners.

A. I explained that this morning, and I said that during a
certain period, until September, the transfer of Soviet
prisoners of war to the Reich was prohibited, and only after
that was the transfer made possible, in order to utilise
their manpower.

Could not the deficiencies which appeared during this first
period have been remedied with the means at the disposal of
the troops?

                                                   [Page 57]

A. No - apparently not. I do not know about that. Only the
O.K.H., who were solely responsible, could know that.

Q. I have only a few more questions about the position of
the Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Operational Staff. When
was that position set up?

A. I believe in 1942.

Q. 1942. What was the rank connected with that position?

A. That of a colonel or a general.

Q. I do not mean rank as to title but as to position. Was
his position equal to that of a commander of a regiment or
of a division?

A. Well, I, may say it was like the position of a brigade
commander, a section chief.

Q. How many section chiefs were there in the O.K.W.?

A. I could not say exactly from memory, and I would not like
to give you wrong figures.

Q. What is your estimate?

A. I had 8 department chiefs, each of whom had, I estimate,
4 sections, 3 or 4 sections. Therefore about 30 to 35
section chiefs may have existed.

Q. The Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff was
one of the 30 section chiefs ?

A. No, I would not like to say that definitely. We had among
the department chiefs so-called department group chiefs, who
combined a few sections. That was about his position.

Q. What were the official duties connected with that

A. Naturally they were the supervision and direction of all
the work of that part of the Armed Forces Operations Staff
which belonged to the Fuehrer's headquarters. It was his
task to direct that work, in accordance with the directives
given by Jodl, the Chief of the Armed Forces Operations

Q. Was the Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff
responsible for the strategic planning to a particularly
high degree, as is maintained by the prosecution?

A. He was, of course, not responsible for that as
D.C.A.F.O.S. but, as a matter of fact, he belonged to the
small group of high ranking and outstanding general staff
officers who were concerned with these things, as Haider has
pointed out.

Q. I have one last question. Was the position of the Deputy
Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff therefore not
equal in importance to the other positions which are
included in the alleged group of the General Staff and the

A. I said that he was Chief of a departmental group in the
Armed Forces Operations Staff, and co-worker in the small
group of those who had to deal with operational and
strategical questions, but subordinate to General Jodl and
responsible for the work of the Arbeitsstab (working staff).

Q. Field Marshal, I believe that the question which I have
put to you was not completely answered. I have asked you
whether the significance of that position was equal or even
nearly equal to that of the other offices which are included
in the group of the general staff and the O.K.W.

A. No, certainly not, because in the group of the General
Staff and the O.K.W. there were the Commanders-in-Chief, the
Supreme Commanders and the Chiefs of the General Staff. He
certainly did not belong to those.

Q. Thank you.

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