The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc//tgmwc-12/tgmwc-12-114.08

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/25

Q. Witness, you just mentioned the military oath. Do you
know whether Blomberg and General Beck opposed or tried to
oppose the pledge the armed forces gave to Hitler?

A. I know only that Beck until the last day of his life
considered the day he rendered his pledge to Hitler as the
blackest day of his life, and gave me an exact description
of how surprised and miserable he felt on that occasion. He
told me that he had been summoned to a military roll call;
and that suddenly it was announced that an oath of
allegiance was to be given to the new head of State; that
unexpectedly a new form of oath was to be used. Beck never
rid himself of the awful thought that at that time he
perhaps should not have given his oath. He told me that
while he was on his way home, he said to a comrade: "This is
the blackest day of my life."

Q. Witness, in your testimony, you also mentioned that
between the Polish campaign and the Western campaign, or
with the beginning of the Western campaign, a further
military putsch was to be tried, and that this putsch failed
because Halder and Fieldmarshal von Brauchitsch shirked it.
You used the term "shirked" previously in your testimony.
Now I ask you to tell me on the basis of what facts did you
arrive at this opinion that both these generals shirked -

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I do not raise an objection that this
is harmful to us if we have plenty of time, but this
evidence as to these putsches and threatened putsches and
rumoured putsches is all admissible here in our view only as
bearing on the attitude of the defendant Schacht. We are not
trying these generals for being or not being in a putsch.
For all purposes it is just as well they should not be in a
putsch. I do not know what purpose there can be in going
over it all again. I call the Tribunal's attention to the
limited purpose for which this historical material was
admitted, and I suggest that it is serving no purpose in
this connection to review it.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the answer to that, Dr. Laternser?

DR. LATERNSER: Since the witness talked about this complex
of questions and testified that Halder as well as
Brauchitsch "evaded" and I cannot establish whether in the
witness' judgement "shirked" is correct on the basis of the
facts, I believe I am obliged to clarify this point. In a
general sense I would like to add further that the
prosecution is also justified in entering into this point. I
refer to the contention of the French Prosecutor in which he
stated that in the light of all these circumstances it was
beyond comprehension that Halder as well as the entire
German people did not rise to a man against the regime.
Therefore, if I start from the viewpoint of the prosecution,
then my questions

                                                  [Page 258]

on this point, as I have just put them, are undoubtedly of
importance, and I, therefore, ask that this question be

THE PRESIDENT: The charge against the High Command is that
they were a criminal organisation within the meaning of the
Charter; that is to say that they planned an aggressive war
or that they committed War Crimes or Crimes Against Humanity
in connection with an aggressive war. Well, whether or not
they took part or were planning to take part in a putsch to
stop the war does not seem very material to any of those

DR. LATERNSER: I agree with you entirely, Mr. President,
that it cannot actually be considered of special importance,
but on the other hand -

THE PRESIDENT: I did not say that it was not of special
importance. I say that it was not material to the relevancy.
The Tribunal does not think that any of these questions are

DR. LATERNSER: Then I will withdraw that question. I have
one final question.


Q. Witness, can you tell me the names of those generals who
participated on 20 July?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what has that got to do with any charge
against the High Command?

DR. LATERNSER: The General Staff is accused of having
participated in a conspiracy. The question -

THE PRESIDENT: We are not here to consider the honour of the
High Command. We are here to consider whether or not they
are a criminal organisation within the meaning of the
Charter, and that is the only question with which we are
going to deal so far as you are concerned.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, the General Staff and the
O.K.W. is accused of having participated in a conspiracy. If
I prove, as I am trying to do with this question that, on
the contrary, instead of participating in a conspiracy, part
of the General Staff took part in an action against the
regime, then the answer to this question will indicate that
precisely the opposite was true; and, for that reason, I ask
that the question be permitted.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not think that what the
General Staff did in July, 1944, when the circumstances were
entirely different to what they were in September, 1939, has
any relevancy to the question whether they took part, either
before or in September, 1939.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, if I put myself in the place
of the prosecution I must assume that the prosecution
assumes that the conspiracy continued. It cannot be inferred
from testimony by the prosecution or from anything that has
been submitted that the conspiracy was to have stopped at a
certain period of time. So that the answer to this question
would be of importance, I believe of decisive importance.
Mr. President, I would like to supplement my statement.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Laternser.

DR. LATERNSER: I would like to add that it is precisely for
the membership of the group I represent that the period of
time between 1938 and May, 1944, is considered decisive.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean the group changed; therefore, they
might be different in 1944?

I DR. LATERNSER: I wish, to add that a particularly large
number of the membership of this group only joined this
group in the course of 1944 on the basis of their official
positions, and that I do consider this point important.



Q. Witness, my question was: Can you give me the names of
those generals who participated in the attempted
assassination of 20 July, 1944?

                                                  [Page 259]
A. Generaloberst Beck; General Fieldmarshal Witzleben,
General Hoeppner.

Q. One question: General Hoeppner was previously supreme
command of an army?

A. I believe so. In addition there was General von Haase,
and certainly a large number of other generals whom I cannot
enumerate off-hand. Here I have mentioned only the names of
those who were at the Bendlerstrasse that afternoon.

Q. One question, witness: Do you know whether Fieldmarshal
Rommel also participated in the affair of 20 July, 1944?

A. I cannot answer by merely saying "yes" for it is a fact
that Rommel, as well as Fieldmarshal von Kluge, did
participate. However, it would give a wrong picture if
Fieldmarshal Rommel were suddenly to appear in the category
of those who fought against Hitler. Rommel, as a typical
Party general, sought to join us very late, and we had a
very painful impression when suddenly, in the face of his
own military catastrophe, he proposed to us to have Hitler
assassinated, and then, if possible, Goering and Himmler as
well. And, even then, he did not wish to appear at the first
but to stay somewhat in the background in order that we
might profit by his popularity later on. Therefore, it is
extremely difficult to know whether these gentlemen, when
they joined our group, came as the defeated might, as people
who wished to save their reputation, or as people who, from
the beginning, stood for decency and honour.

Q. Did you yourself ever speak to Fieldmarshal Rommel about

A. No. I never considered it worth while to make his

Q. A further question: Did officers of the General Staff
participate on 20 July?

A. Yes, a large group.

Q. About how many would you say?

A. I cannot give you the number, for at that time I was not
informed of how many of the General Staff Staufenberg had on
his side. I do not doubt that Staufenberg, Colonel Hansen
and several other stout-hearted men had discovered a number
of clean, courageous officers of the General Staff, and that
they could count on the support of very many decent members
of the General Staff though they naturally could not
initiate them all into their plans beforehand.

Q. That will be sufficient for this point. Another question
has occurred to me. You mentioned General von Treskow
previously. Did you know von Treskow personally?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know anything about the fact that after he learned
that the commissar decree had been issued, General von
Treskow remonstrated with von Rundstedt, and that these
remonstrances contributed to the fact that the commissar
decree was not transmitted in Field Marshal von Rundstedt's

A. Treskow belonged to our group for many years and there
was no shameful action of this sort to which he did not,
from the very start, courageously call the attention of his
superiors. I remember how at that time we learned of the
famous commissar decree through hearsay, and immediately
sent a courier to Treskow to inform him of the bare purpose
of such an outrage. Then, after the decree had been
published, Treskow, at a time which had been pre-arranged,
remonstrated with von Rundstedt in the sense you described.

THE PRESIDENT: You said awhile ago that you were just going
to ask your last question.

                                                  [Page 260]

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I am sorry I could not keep to
that. A number of questions arose from the testimony of the
witness, but this was my last question.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other member of the defendant's
counsel wish to ask any questions of the witness?

(No response.)

Then does the prosecution desire to cross-examine?



Q. May it please the Tribunal, I have a few questions to ask
you, Dr. Gisevius, and if you will answer them as nearly as
possible by "yes" or "no," when you are capable of giving a
truthful answer, you will save a great deal of time.

The Tribunal perhaps should know your relations with the
prosecution. Is it not a fact that within two months of the
surrender of Germany I met you at Wiesbaden, and you related
to me your experiences in the conspiracy that you have
related here?

A. Yes.

Q. And you were later brought here, and after coming here
were interrogated by the prosecution as well as by the
Counsel for Frick and for Schacht?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, your attitude and viewpoint is, as I understand you,
that of a German who felt that loyalty to the German people
required continuous opposition to the Nazi regime. Is that a
correct statement of your position?

A. Yes.

Q. And you had a very large experience in police matters in

A. Yes.

Q. If your putsches or other moves to obtain power in
Germany were successful, it was planned that you would be in
charge of the police in the reorganisation, was it not?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. Either as Minister of the Interior or as Police
Commissioner, whatever it might be called.

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. Now, you represented the belief that it was not necessary
to govern Germany with concentration camps and with Gestapo
methods; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And you found all the ways of presenting your viewpoint
to the German people cut off by the Gestapo methods which
were used by the Nazi regime; is that a fact?

A. Yes.

Q. So that there was no way open to you to obtain any change
in German policy except through revolt or assassination, or
means of that kind?

A. No. I am convinced that until 1937 or the beginning of
1938 conditions could have been changed in Germany by means
of a majority in the Reich cabinet or by means of pressure
from the armed forces.

                                                  [Page 261]

Q. Then, you fix 1937 as the time when it ceased to be
possible by peaceful means to effect a change in Germany; is
that correct?

A. That is how I would judge it.

Q. Now, it was not until after 1937 that Schacht joined your
group; is that not a fact?

A. Yes, as I said, the group was not formed until 1937 or
1938, but Schacht had already introduced me to Goerdeler in
1936, and Schacht and Oster had known each other since 1936.
Naturally Schacht also had known a large number of other
members of the group for a long time.

Q. But Schacht did not become convinced, as I understand
your statement to us, until after 1937, until the putsch
affair, that he wouldn't be able to handle Hitler in some
peaceful way; is that not correct?

A. In what manner? In a peaceful manner or ...

Q. In a peaceful manner.

A. Yes, until the end of 1937 Schacht believed t1hat it
should be possible to remove Hitler legally.

Q. But by the end of 1937, as you now say, the possibility
of a peaceful removal of Hitler had ceased to exist.

A. That is what we thought.

Q. Yes; now, there was, as I understand your object in going
to the generals, there was no power in Germany that could
stop or deal with the Gestapo except the army.

A. Yes. I would answer that question in the affirmative.

Q. In addition to the Gestapo, this Nazi regime also had a
private army in the S.S., did they not, and for a period in
the S.A.?

A. Yes.

Q. And if you were to combat successfully the Nazi regime,
you had to have manpower which only the army had; is that

A. Yes, this manpower could be found only in the army, but
at the same time we also attempted to influence people in
the police, and. we needed all the decent officials in the
administrations, and, generally speaking, the broad masses
of the people.

Q. But the Wehrmacht was the source of power capable of
dealing with the S.S. and the Gestapo if the generals had
been willing?

A. That was our conviction.

Q. And that is the reason you kept seeking the help of the
generals and felt let down when finally they wouldn't give
you their assistance?

A. Yes.

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