The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Do you know that before the beginning of the war against
the Soviet Union the defendant Goering issued a so-called
"Green Folder" containing directives on the control of
economic matters in the territories of the U.S.S.R. intended
for occupation?

A. Yes, that is known to me.

Q. Do you admit that in your directive of 16th June, 1941,
you instructed all the German Armed Forces to obey these
directives implicitly?

A. Yes, there is a directive which makes known to all units
of the Army the organisations which are assigned for
important tasks and what their responsibilities are, and
that all the military commands of the Army must act in
compliance therewith. That I passed on; it was not my order.
I passed it on.

                                                   [Page 66]

Q. Was it your own decree or were you merely obeying the
Fuehrer's instructions?

A. I merely passed on the orders received from the Fuehrer,
and I could not give any orders at all to Reich Marshal
Goering in that respect.

Q. You did not issue an order to Field Marshal Goering, but
addressed your order to the Armed Forces?

A. I could not give them any orders either; I could only
pass on the intentions of the Fuehrer to the Commander-in-
Chief of the Army, and he had to pass them on to his army
groups and armies.

Q. You did not disagree with these intentions of the

A. I did not raise any objection, since this did not concern
the sphere of the O.K.W. I followed out the order and passed
it on.

Q. Do you admit that this order of yours contained
instructions for the immediate and complete economic
exploitation of the occupied regions of the Soviet Union in
the interest of German war economy?

A. I did not issue such an order giving the aims and tasks
which were to be carried out by the organisation "Economic
Staff Oldenburg" (Wirtschaftsstab Oldenburg), since I had
received no order to that effect. I only passed on the
contents of the "Green Folder" to the High Command of the
Army, for appropriate action.

Q. Do you admit that the directives contained in Goering's
"Green Folder" were aimed at the plunder of the material
wealth of the Soviet Union and all its citizens?

A. No. In my opinion nothing was said of destruction.
Instead of destruction one ought to say exploitation of
surplus, especially in the field of the food supply, and the
utilisation of raw materials for the entire war economy of
Germany, but not the destruction of them.

Q. Please repeat what you have just said.

A. I said that in the "Green Folder" were the principles for
the utilisation of present and future reserves which were
considered surplus, but never for their destruction. To
cause the Soviet population to starve by such destruction,
that was not the intention. I have seen these things on the
spot and am therefore qualified to speak about them.

Q. You do not consider that plunder?

A. The conflict over words, whether booty, or exploitation
of reserves found during the war, or looting, or the like,
is a matter of concepts which I believe need not be defined
here. Everyone uses his own expressions in this respect.

Q. Very well, do not let us argue about it. I have one last
question to ask you with regard to the attack on the Soviet
Union: Do you agree that the methods of warfare adopted by
the German Army in the East differed radically from the
general concept of military necessity?

A. No, I cannot admit that in this form; I would rather say,
the fact that the brutalising - I have used this term before
- that the brutalising of the war against the Soviet Union
and in the East occurred, is not to be attributed to
instigation by the German Army but to those conditions which
I have stated in an affidavit submitted by my counsel to the
Tribunal. I would furthermore like to ask the Russian
Prosecutor to read it so that he can see my opinion about

Q. Very well. To conclude the question of aggression and to
pass to the question of atrocities, I have to ask you the
following question, and I trust you will give the Tribunal
the information you possess in your capacity as Hitler's
closest adviser in the matter of military plans.

My question is the following: What tasks did the Supreme
Military Command entrust to the German Armed Forces in the
event of Germany concluding a victorious war against the
Soviet Union?

A. I do not know what you mean by that. What were the
directives to the military leaders in the event of a victory
over the Soviet Union? May I ask you to put this question
differently. I did not understand it.

                                                   [Page 67]

Q. I refer to the problems for the further conduct of the
war after a successful conclusion of the Eastern campaign.

A. Then that could occur which actually did occur later,
that is, the landing of the British and American forces in
France, in Denmark or in Germany, etc. There were various
possibilities of warfare which might occur and which could
not be anticipated at all.

Q. I am not asking this question in general. You are
evidently acquainted with the document entitled "A Manual of
Naval Warfare" which had already been drafted on 8th August,
1941, and contained plans for the subsequent conduct of the
war after the conclusion of the Eastern campaign. I refer
here to the drafting of plans for the invasion of Iraq,
Syria and Egypt. Do you know this document?

A. It has not been submitted to me so far. It is a surprise
at the moment, and I cannot recall it.

Q. You do not know this document? (To the Tribunal): This
document, your Honours, is Document S-57; it was submitted
to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 336. I will show it to you
in a minute. (The document was handed to the defendant.)

A. I see this document for the first time, at any rate here
during the
proceedings. It begins with the sentence:

  "A draft of directives concerning further plans after the
  end of the Eastern campaign was submitted to the Naval
  Operations Command."

This order or directive of the Navy I have never seen nor
could I have seen it. It is a draft of directives which
could only come from the High Command of the Armed Forces.
In the Armed Forces Operations Staff there were officers
from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and it is quite
possible that ideas which took shape of drafts of directives
were made known at the time to these officers. I cannot
remember any such draft of directives of the Armed Forces
Operations Staff but maybe General Jodl is in a position to
give information about that. I cannot remember it.

Q. You do not remember it? I shall not examine you about it
closely but you did see that the document planned the
seizure of Gibraltar with the active participation of Spain,
it planned an attack on Syria, Palestine, in the direction
of Egypt, etc. You say that you have no idea what this
document was about?

A. I shall be glad to give information about that. An attack
to seize Gibraltar, which is the gateway to the
Mediterranean, had already been planned for the preceding
winter but had not been carried out, that is, during the
winter of 1939-40. It was nothing new and the other topics
which have been mentioned were those which developed ideas
based on the situation existing north of the Caucasus as a
result of the operations. I do not mean to say that these
ideas were not given any thought, but I do not remember it
and I did not read every document or paper of the Armed
Forces Operations Staff when it was in the drafting stage.

Q. If you consider as mere scraps of paper documents
concerning the seizure of entire countries, then what did
your people consider as very important documents?

A. I can only state the following, which is true and
sincere. In war time one makes many a plan and considers
various possibilities which are not and cannot be carried
out in the face of the hard facts of reality. Therefore it
is not permissible to regard such papers afterwards as
entirely representative of the will and intention of the
operational and strategic war leadership.

Q. I agree with you that - from a historical point of view -
this document is at present of no importance whatsoever. But
taken in conjunction with the plan of the German General
Staff, at a time when this Staff thought it was going to
defeat the Soviet Union, then the document does acquire an
entirely different meaning. However, I shall not, for the
time being, examine you any further about this document.

I now pass on to the subject of atrocities and of your
attitude towards these

                                                   [Page 68]

crimes. Your counsel, Dr. Nelte, has already handed you the
principal documents of the prosecution on the subject of
atrocities. I do not therefore intend either to submit them
again or to enter into any detailed argument on the subject.
I shall merely examine you on the basic principles of these
documents, which were presented by your counsel during your

I shall first of all refer to Document TS-50, dated 13th
May, 1941, entitled "Directive on the application of Martial
Law in region 'Barbarossa' and on the adoption of special
measures by the Armies." Do you remember that document? It
was drawn up on 13 May, 1941, more than a month before the
outbreak of war against the Soviet Union. Do you remember
that in that document, drawn up before the war, instructions
were given that all suspect elements should immediately be
brought before an officer and that he would decide if they
were to be shot? Do you remember that condition? You signed
the document.

A. Yes, I have never denied that. But I have given the
necessary explanations as to how the document came into
being and who was its originator.

Q. Although you declare that you have already elucidated the
matter to your counsel, I am, nevertheless, obliged to put
this question to you in a slightly different form:

Did you consider that an officer had no right to shoot
people on the spot without trial or investigation?

A. In the German Army there have always been regimental
courts-martial for our own soldiers as well as for our
enemies, which could always be set up, consisting of one
officer and one or two soldiers, all the three of whom would
act as judges. That is what we call a regimental court-
martial (Standesgericht); the only requisite is always that
an officer must preside at this court. But as a matter of
principle I have to repeat the statement which I made

Q. One moment. Please reply to this question. Did not this
document do away with judicial proceedings in the case of so-
called suspects, at the same time leaving the right to shoot
them to the officer of the German Army? Is that correct?

A. In the case of German soldiers it was correct and was
permitted. There is a court-martial with judicial officers
and there is a court-martial which consists 0f soldiers.
These have the right to execute an appropriate sentence
against any soldier of the German Army in regimental court-
martial proceedings.

THE PRESIDENT: You are not answering the question. The
question is what right does this document give, not what the
orders in the German Army are.


Q. Can you reply to the following question? Did this
document do away with judicial proceedings and did it give
the German officer the right to shoot suspects, as stated

A. That was an order which was given to me by Hitler. He had
given me that order and I put my name under it. What that
means I explained in detail yesterday.

Q. You, Field Marshal, signed that decree. You considered
that the decree was irregular, you understood what the
consequences of that decree were likely to be. Then why did
you sign it?

A. I cannot say any more than that I put my name to it and I
thereby personally assumed in my position a degree of

Q. And one more question. This decree was dated 13th May,
1941, almost a month before the outbreak of war. So you had
planned the murder of human beings beforehand?

A. That I do not understand. It is correct that this order
was issued about four weeks before the beginning of the
campaign "Barbarossa," and four weeks before that it had
been communicated to the generals in a statement by Hitler.
They knew that weeks before.

Q. Do you know how this decree was actually applied?

A. I have already told the interrogating General of the
Soviet Army in the preliminary interrogations my opinion.
Whether generals discussed this order

                                                   [Page 69]

with me has not been mentioned, but I wish to point out that
it says specifically here that the higher commanders have
the right to suspend this order concerning court
jurisdiction as soon as their area is pacified. I have given
the same answer to every general who has asked me about the
reasons for and the effect of this order. I said that it
provided that they were allowed to suspend this order as
soon as they considered their area to be pacified. That was
an individual subjective question for the discretion of the

Q. And now for the final question in connection with this
order or directive. This order actually assured German
soldiers and officers complete impunity for arbitrary
actions and actions of lawlessness?

A. Within certain limits, the limit was strictly defined in
the verbal order to the generals, namely application of
severest disciplinary measures among their own troops.

Q. I think, defendant Keitel, that you have seen these
"definite limits" in the documents submitted to the Tribunal
and in the documentary films.

I shall now ask you the following question: On 12th May,
1941, the question of the treatment of captured Soviet
political commissars and military prisoners was under
consideration. Do you remember that document?

A. At the moment I cannot recall which one you mean. It is
not clear to me what you are referring to at the moment.

Q. I refer to the document dated 12th May, 1941, which
established that the political leaders of the Red Army
should not be recognised as prisoners of war but

A. I have only seen notes on it. I do not recall the
document at present but I know the facts. I cannot recall
the document at the moment. May I see it please?

Q. If you please.

THE PRESIDENT: What number is it?

GENERAL RUDENKO: 780-PS. It is a document dated 12th May,
1941, and it established that the political leaders of the
Red Army were not to be considered as prisoners of war but
that they should be annihilated.

A. It is not an order but a memorandum on a report by the
Department of National Defence, with the remark that
decisions by the Fuehrer are still required. The memorandum
probably refers to a suggested order - I remember this now;
I saw it at the time and the result of the report is not
mentioned but merely the suggestion which was put down for
its regulation yet to come. As far as I know, the ruling was
then communicated to the High Command of the Army as having
been approved by the Fuehrer or having been attended to or
discussed or agreed upon directly between the Fuehrer and
the Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

Q. What do you mean when you speak of "regulation"? We have
learned so many expressions from German Army terminology,
such as "regulation," "special regime," "execution," but
they all - translated into vulgar parlance, mean one thing,
and one thing only - murder.

A. I did not at all say "regulation." I do not know which
word was understood to mean that. I said that, in the sense
of that memorandum, according to my recollection, directives
bad been issued by Hitler to the Army at that time; that is,
an approval to the suggestion which has been made in the

Q. In that case you do not deny that as far back as May,
more than a month before the outbreak of war, the document
had already been drafted which provided for the annihilation
of Russian political commissars and military personnel. You
do not deny this?

A. No, that I do not deny. That was the result of the
directives which had been communicated and which had been
worked out here in writing by the generals.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 6th April, 1946, at 10.00

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