The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/27

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Q. May it please the Tribunal.

Dr. Gisevius, yesterday you made some reference to Herbert
Goering in saying that Schacht had sent word to you about
the Gestapo microphones in Schacht's house. Will you tell us
what relation Herbert Goering was to the defendant?

A. Herbert Goering was a cousin of the defendant. I had
known him for many years. Herbert, as well as his brothers
and sisters, had warned me years ago about the disaster
which would overtake Germany if at any time a man like their
cousin Hermann should get a position of even the smallest
responsibility. They acquainted me with the many
characteristics of the defendant, which all of us had come
to know in the meantime, starting with his vanity, and
continuing with his love of ostentation, his lack of
responsibility, his lack of scruples, even to the extent of
making stepping stones of the dead. From all this I already
had some idea what to expect of the defendant.

Q. Now, during the period when you were making these
investigations and having these early conversations with
Schacht, and up until about 1937, you, as I understand it,
were very critical of Schacht because he had helped the
Nazis to power and continued to support them. Is that true?

A. I did not understand how an intelligent man, and we who
was as capable in economics as he was, could enter into such
a close relationship with Hitler. I was all the more
bewildered when, from the very first day and in a thousand
small ways Schacht resisted the Nazis, and the German public
took pleasure in the many sharp and humorous remarks which
he made about them. Great was my bewilderment until I
actually met Schacht. And then ...

Q. During this period Schacht did have great influence with
the German people, did he not, particularly with German
people of responsibility and power?

A. He had great influence to the extent that many Germans
hoped to find a champion of decency and justice in him, when
they heard that he was fighting hard in that direction. I
remember his activity in the Ministry of Economics, where
officials who were not Party members ...

Q. I think we have covered that, and I am anxious to deal
with further material, if I may interrupt you.

A. Yes.

Q. During this period you reported to Dr. Schacht fully
concerning your findings about the criminal activities of
the Gestapo, did you not?

A. Yes; from time to time I spoke more frankly, and it is
obvious that I ...

Q. And he took the position, as I understand you, that
Hitler and Goering did not know about these things.

A. Yes. He was of the opinion that Hitler did not know
anything about such terrible things, and that Goering knew
at most only a part.

Q. And he stood by Goering until 1937, when the latter
pushed him out of the Economics Office, did he not?

A. I believe that was at the end of 1936. I may be wrong. I
believe it would be more correct to say that he looked for
support from Goering and hoped that he would protect him
from the Party and the Gestapo.

Q. In other words, Schacht did not heed your warnings about
Goering until late 1936 or 1937?

A. That is correct.

Q. And during this period there would be no doubt, would
there, that Schacht

                                                  [Page 272]

was the dominant economic figure in the rearmament programme
until he was superseded by Goering with the Four-Year Plan?

A. I do not know whether everything happened like that
exactly. He was, as Economics Minister, the leading man in
German economy, of course, not only for rearmament but for
all questions of German economy; rearmament was just one of

Q. Now Schacht believed, and as I understand it, you
believed, during all this period, that under German
constitutional law no war could be declared except by
authority of the Reich Cabinet. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. In other words, from the point of view of the German
Constitution, the war, as declared and carried out by
Hitler, was illegal, by German law, in your view.

A. According to our firm conviction, yes.

Q. I think we found out yesterday the position you were to
have if there was a successful overthrow of the Hitler
regime. Schacht was under consideration for Chancellor, was
he not, if that movement was successful?

A. No. It is only correct as to the first offer that Halder
made in August of 1938, or perhaps July, 1938, when he
visited Schacht for the first time. At that time, according
to the information which I received, Halder asked Schacht
whether, in the case of an overthrow, he would be ready to
take over a position like that. Schacht replied that he
would be ready for anything if the generals would eliminate
the Nazi regime and Hitler.

As early as 1939 individual opponents formed a group, and
Beck became the acknowledged head of all conspirators from
the left to the right wing. Goerdeler then came into the
picture together with Beck as the leading candidate for the
position of Reich Chancellor, so that after that time we
need speak only of Goerdeler in that regard.

Q. Now, I want to ask you some questions about the defendant
Keitel. Of course, we have heard that Hitler was the actual
head of the State, but I want to ask you whether Keitel
occupied a position of real leadership and power in the

A. Keitel occupied one of the most influential positions in
the Third Reich. I would like to say, at this point, that I
was a very close friend of four of the closest collaborators
of Keitel. One was the chief of the Ordnance Office in the
O.K.W., the murdered General Olbricht; the second was the
Chief of Intelligence service, Admiral Canaris, who was also
murdered; the third was the Chief of the Army Legal
Department, Ministerial Director Sack; he was also murdered.
And finally there was the Chief of the Armament Economy
Department, General Thomas, who escaped being murdered as
though by a miracle. A close friendship, I might say, bound
me to these men, and thus from these men I found out exactly
what tremendous influence Keitel had over the O.K.W. and in
all Army matters, and thereby what influence he wielded in,
representing the Army to the German people.

It may be that Keitel did not influence Hitler to a great
extent. But I must testify here to the fact that Keitel
influenced the O.K.W. and the Army all the more. Keitel
decided which documents were to be transmitted to Hitler. It
was not possible for Admiral Canaris or one of the other
gentlemen I mentioned to submit an urgent report to Hitler
of his own accord. Keitel took it over, and what he did not
like he did not transmit, or he gave these men the official
order to abstain from making their report. Also, Keitel
repeatedly threatened these men telling them that they were
to limit themselves exclusively to their own specialised
sectors; and that he would not protect them with respect to
any political utterance which criticised the Party and the
Gestapo, with regard to persecution of the Jews, the murders
in Russia, or the anti-church campaign; and, as he said
later, he would not hesitate to dismiss these gentle-
                                                  [Page 273]

men from the Armed Forces and turn them over to the Gestapo.
I have read the notes in this connection which Admiral
Canaris made in his diary. I have read the notes of General
Oster in the same connection from the command conferences in
the O.K.W. I have talked with the Chief Judge of the Army,
Dr. Sack, about it, and it is my duty to testify here that
Field Marshal Keitel, who should have protected his
officers, repeatedly threatened them with the Gestapo. He
put these men under pressure, and they considered that as a
special insult.

Q. In other words, whether Keitel could control Hitler or
not, he did have a very large control of the entire O.K.W.
underneath him. Is that not true?

A. Did you say Hitler? No, Keitel.

Q. Whether Keitel could control Hitler or not he did control
and command the entire O.K.W.?

A. Yes.

Q. In other words, whatever Hitler's own inclinations may
have been, these men in this dock formed a ring around him
which kept out information from your group as to what was
going on unless they wanted Hitler to hear it, isn't that a

A. Yes. I believe that I should cite two more examples which
I consider especially significant. First of all, every means
was tried to incite Keitel to warn Hitler against the
invasion of Belgium and Holland, and to tell him, that is
Hitler, that the information which had been submitted by
him, that is Keitel, regarding the alleged violation of
neutrality by the Dutch and Belgians was wrong. The counter-
intelligence was to produce these reports which would
incriminate the Dutch and Belgians: Admiral Canaris at that
time refused to sign these reports. I ask that this be
verified. He told Keitel repeatedly that these reports,
which were supposedly produced by the O.K.W., were wrong.
That is one example of Keitel failing to transmit to Hitler
what he should have transmitted. Another example was when
Keitel was asked by Canaris and Thomas to submit to Hitler
the details of the murders in Poland and Russia. Admiral
Canaris and his friends were anxious to prevent even the
preparations for these mass murders and to inform Keitel
when these were being made by the Gestapo. We received proof
of what was going on through Nebe and others. Keitel was
informed as to this in detail, and here again he did not
resist; and he who did not stop the Gestapo at the beginning
should not be surprised if at the end a million-fold
injustice was the upshot.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson. I think you put your
question, "Did not these men in the dock form a ring which
prevented you getting to Hitler," and the question was
answered rather as though it applied only to Keitel. If you
intended to put it with reference to all defendants, I think
it ought to be cleared up.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think that is true.


Q. Each of the defendants who held ministerial positions of
any kind controlled the reports which should go to Hitler
from that particular ministry, did they not?

A. As far as this general question is concerned, I must
reply cautiously, for, first of all, it was a close group
which put a cordon of silence around Hitler. A man like von
Papen or von Neurath cannot be included in this group, for
it was obvious that von Papen and von Neurath, and perhaps
one of the other of the defendants, did not have the
possibility, except for a very short time, of having regular
access to Hitler, for besides von Neurath, Hitler already
had Ribbentrop. Thus I can only say that a certain group,
which is surely well known, composed the close circle of
which I am speaking.

Q. I should like you to identify those of the defendants who
had access to Hitler and those who were able to prevent
access to Hitler by their subordinates.

                                                  [Page 274]

These were, I suggest, Goering, Ribbentrop, Keitel,
Kaltenbrunner, Frick, and Schacht - during the period until
he broke with them, as you have testified - Donitz, Raeder,
Sauckel and Speer?

A. You mentioned a few too many and some are missing. Take
the defendant Jodl, for instance. I would like to call your
attention to the strange influence which this defendant had
and the position he had with regard to controlling access to
Hitler. I believe my testimony shows that Schacht, on the
other hand, did not control access to Hitler, but that he
could only be glad about each open and decent report which
got through to Hitler from his and other ministries. As far
as the defendant Frick is concerned, I do not believe that
he was necessarily in a position to control access to
Hitler. I believe his problem concerns responsibility.

Q. Should I have included Funk in the group that had access
to Hitler?

A. Funk, without a doubt, had access to Hitler for a long
time, and for his part Funk had of course the responsibility
to see that affairs in the Ministry of Economics and in the
Reichsbank were conducted in the way Hitler desired. Without
a doubt Funk put his surpassingly expert knowledge at the
service of Hitler.

Q. Did you prepare or participate in preparing reports which
were sent to Keitel as to the criminal activities of the

A. Yes.

Q. Did others participate with you in the preparation of
those reports?

A. Yes, it was the work of a group. We gathered reports
about plans and preparations, of the Gestapo and we gathered
material about the first infamous acts, so that the
courageous men at the front, officers of the General Staff
and of the Army, went to the scene, prepared reports, and
made photographs, and this material came then to both
Canaris and Oster. Then the problem arose; how we could
bring this material to Keitel. It was generally known that
officers, even highly placed officers like Canaris and
Thomas, were forbidden to report on political matters. The
difficulty was, therefore, to avoid Canaris and the others
coming under the suspicion that they were dealing with
politics. We therefore employed the round-about method of
preparing so-called counter-intelligence agents' reports
from foreign countries or from occupied countries; and with
the pretext that different agents from all countries were
here reporting about these outrages, or that agents
travelling through or in foreign countries had found
photographs of these infamous acts, we then submitted these
reports to Field Marshal Keitel.

Q. Now, did Canaris and Oster participate in submitting
those reports to Keitel?

A. Yes. Without Canaris and Oster the working out and the
gathering of this material would have been inconceivable.

Q. And what positions did Canaris and Oster hold with
reference to Keitel at the time when these reports were
being submitted?

A. Canaris was the senior officer of the O.K.W. Officially
he even had to represent Keitel when the latter was absent.
Keitel was only concerned that some one else should take his
place at such times, usually his Party General Reinecke;
Oster, as the representative Chief of Staff for Canaris, was
also in close association with the latter. Keitel could not
have wished for closer contact with reality and truth than
through this connection with the Chief of his Wehrmacht
Intelligence Service.

Q. So these reports which were sent to Keitel came from the
highest men in his own organisation?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, what did they report to Keitel? Let me ask you if
they reported to him that there was a systematic programme
of murder of the insane going on.

A. Yes, indeed. On these subjects, too, records were
completed in detail,

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including the despairing reports of the directors of the
lunatic asylums. I recall this minutely because here too we
had a great difficulties in giving a reason for these
reports, and we actually put them through as reports of
foreign doctors who had heard of these things with

Q. Did he report to him the persecution and murder of the
Jews and the programme of extermination of the Jews that was
being carried out?

A. From the first Jewish pogroms in 1938 on, Keitel was
minutely informed of each new action against the Jews,
particularly about the establishment of the first gas
chamber, or rather, the establishment of the first mass
graves in the East, up to the erection of the murder
factories later.

Q. Did these reports mention the atrocities that were
committed in Poland against the Poles?

A. Yes, indeed, here I would say again that the atrocities
in Poland too, started with isolated murders which were so
horrible that we were still able to report on single cases,
and could add the names of the responsible S.S. leaders.
Here, too, Keitel was spared nothing of the terrible truth.

Q. And did that condition of informing Keitel also prevail
as to the atrocities against nationals in other occupied

A. Yes. First of all I must of course mention the atrocities
in Russia, because I must emphasise that Keitel now
certainly, on the basis of the Polish atrocities, had been
warned sufficiently so as to know what was to be expected in
Russia. I remember, too, how the preparation of these
orders, such as the order of the shooting of the commissars
and the "Nacht und Nebel" (Night and Fog) decree, was
continued for weeks in the O.K.W.; that, as soon as these
orders were in preparation, we begged Canaris and Oster to
present a petition to Keitel. But I would like to add that I
do not doubt that other courageous men also presented a
petition to Keitel in this connection and, since I belonged
to a certain group, the impression might be created that
only in this group were there persons who were interested in
these problems. But I would be concealing vital information
if I did not add that even in the High Command of the O.K.W.
and in the General Staff there were excellent men who did
everything to reach Keitel through their separate channels,
and that there were also brave men in many ministries who
tried to reach every officer whom they saw in order to plead
with him to order this injustice to cease.

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