The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Did you never hear anything of this kind?

A. No.

Q. What was the attitude of the Reichsmarshal towards
captured flyers in general?

A. I sometimes used to speak to the Reichsmarshal about

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I wish to interpose an objection. I
think we have been very liberal. I think we have been very
liberal in allowing all kinds of statements, but it does
seem to me that this passes anything that is suitable as
evidence. This witness has indicated that he has no
knowledge of the subject; he did not know the orders which
are in evidence, and he assumes to state the attitude of the
Reichsmarshal. I have no objection to his making any
statement of any facts from which this Tribunal may be
informed of the attitude of the Reichsmarshal, but I think
that for one witness to state the state of mind of another
person, without any facts whatever, passes the bounds of
what we can possibly allow here in evidence. It does not
help to solve the problem and I respectfully object to the
question and answer as not constituting credible and
relevant evidence on any subject before the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, I think you should confine
yourself to any facts and observations of the defendant
Goering. As the witness had just said that he never heard of
any action against the terror flyers at all, I do not see
how he could give evidence as to the attitude of the
defendant Goering about it.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President; I should like to formulate my
question as follows:

Q. Did Reichsmarshal Goering discuss with you, as to how
enemy flyers who had been shot down should be treated.

A. No.

Q. This, in your opinion, is a fact, is it not?

A. This was not discussed with me.

Q. I have one more question. Did he speak to you about the
fact that he was opposed to any cruelty in the treatment of
the enemy?

A. That was just what I wanted to say before. He said that
to me before the war, remembering the first World War.

Q. And what did he say about it?

A. That once they have been shot down, they are our
comrades; that was the gist of it.

DR. STAHMER: I have no more questions to put to the witness.
I place him at the disposal of the defence or the

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of you wish to ask this witness any

BY DR. HANS LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and

Q. Witness, as you know, the prosecution has grouped
together a certain circle of people consisting of the
highest-ranking military leaders in order to declare this
circle criminal. You probably know this circle?

A. Yes.

Q. Was there such a grouping of equivalent offices within
the German Armed Forces?

                                                  [Page 258]

A. I did not understand the question.

Q. Was there ever a grouping of offices within the German
Armed Forces like the one that has now been created in order
to form that group?

A. Yes. I believe that, ever since an army existed, there
have also been high-ranking leaders who were grouped under
their Commander-in-Chief.

Q. Were the holders of these offices occupied with the
elaboration of technical military problems on Hitler's
orders, or did they work out subjects on their own
initiative which were submitted to Hitler for execution?

A. No. The military leaders only acted upon the orders of
their superiors, that is, the Generals of the Air Force on
the orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, who
got his orders from the Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht;
that was Hitler, and before him, Hindenburg.

Q. Do you know whether this alleged group of the General
Staff and the OKW, as they are now combined, ever met

A. Before the attack on Poland only the Army and Navy
commanders who were assigned for action there, were called
together by Hitler; likewise, those who were to go into
action in the West in the Spring of 1940 were called
together by Hitler; the same thing happened again, so far as
I know, before the attack on Russia.

Q. Were you sometimes present at such conferences?

A. At some of them, yes.

Q. Could you describe the course of any such conference?
Particularly I attach value to the point, whether the higher
military commanders had an opportunity to make counter-
suggestions during these conferences?

A. I remember the conference with Hitler which took place on
the Obersalzberg before the Polish campaign. It was on 22nd
August. The Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the
Commanders of the Armies attended. Hitler stood in front
behind a large desk, and the generals sat in chairs next to
or behind each other. He made a speech giving the reasons,
the political situation, as he usually did, and his
intention. During this conference any reply or discussion on
the part of the generals was impossible. Whether there was a
subsequent conference dealing with the details I do not
know. I only know of this speech of Hitler's. Then, before
the attack on Russia, there was a different procedure. We
sat around a very large table, and the respective commanders
of the Army Groups and Armies had to demonstrate on the map
their intentions and the methods of executing the orders
which they had received, whereupon Hitler agreed in general
or, perhaps, in certain cases, said he would prefer greater
strength here and less strength there; his objections,
however, were only very slight.

Q. That means these conferences were more in the nature of a

A. Definitely, briefing.

Q. Can you tell me whether any member of the group "General
Staff" or of the so-called group "General Staff and OKW"
ever made suggestions to deviate from the International Law
in force?

A. Not that I know of.

Q. Do you know whether members of this alleged group
frequently met with politicians or high Party members?

A. In my opinion, no. I would like to say that for the
majority of these gentlemen. It goes without saying that the
Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces or the Chief of the
OKW, must frequently have held conferences with politicians
also. But the average commanders of the Army Groups, Navy or
Army commanders, had no opportunity to do so.

Q. Did the members of this so-called group, those who
belonged to the Army, Navy or Air Force, have discussions
amongst themselves?

A. If they were assigned to collaborate in a common task,
for example, if the Commander-in-Chief of an Army or an Army
Group had the Naval Commander-in-Chief working with him,
there were naturally discussions of this kind. But

                                                  [Page 259]

with a neighbouring C-in-C the relationship was certainly
loose, and with a more remote neighbour it did not exist at

Q. That means such discussions took place only with regard
to the execution of a common task?

A. Yes, for that purpose.

Q. Within the Air Force, is it true that this circle of
people included those officers who had held the position of
Chief of Staff of the Air Force or Commander-in-Chief of the
Air Force or of an air fleet during a certain period? I have
a list here of those generals of the Air Force who belonged
to that group, and I should like to ask you, with regard to
a few of them, which rank and position these generals had
when the war started. What was the rank of General Korten at
the outbreak of war?

A. I believe either Colonel or Lieutenant- Colonel but I am
not quite sure.

Q. Do you know what position he held?

A. I believe he was Chief of Staff of the Munich Air Fleet.

Q. Then, from August to October 1944, General Kreipe was
Chief of Staff of the Air Force. What was this officer when
the war started?

A. I presume Major or Lieutenant-Colonel.

Q. Yes. Do you know what position he had

A. No, at the moment I could not say exactly. It may be that
he was Chief of Staff of an air corps.

Q. Yes. And what rank did he have at the time as Chief of
Staff of an air

A. From Major to Colonel; that depends.

Q. General Koller also was Chief of Staff of the Air Force
for a short time. What was this officer when the war

A. I believe Lieutenant-Colonel.

Q. Then I have only a few more names. Do you know which rank
and position Dessloch had at the outbreak of war?

A. I do not remember exactly; perhaps Major-General or
Colonel. I do not know exactly.

Q. And General Pflugbeil?

A. The same.

Q. General Seidel?

A. Seidel, I believe, was already Major-General at the
outbreak of war.

Q. And which position did he have at that time?

A. He was Quartermaster-General in the General Staff.

Q. Which rank did that position have compared with
Commander, Commander-in-Chief, Divisional Commander ...?

A. Corps Commander is about the same as a Quartermaster-

Q. Yes. I have a few more questions concerning the Air Force
itself and the highest military leaders. From your testimony
it is to be concluded that in 1939 the Air Force was not
fully prepared for war. As to this point, could you state
the reasons for this unpreparedness of the Air Force for

A. During the few years between 1935 and 1939 - I mentioned
the figures for industry before - it would have been
impossible for any soldier in any country to build an air
force equal to the tasks with which we were faced from 1939
on. That is impossible. It is neither possible to create the
units nor to establish the schools and furnish them with
adequate teaching staffs, nor is it possible to develop the
planes which are necessary, and then to build them in
series. Nor is it possible in that short period to train or
produce air crews sufficiently qualified to meet the high
technical standards necessarily demanded for modem aircraft.
Likewise, it is impossible in such a short time to produce
ground crews which are technically highly qualified, and to
put them at the disposal of the Air Force and also of the
aviation industry. At the same time also . . .

                                                  [Page 260]

THE PRESIDENT: He said, that it is impossible. It should not
be necessary to go into this detail on this subject.

DR. LATERNSER: I have only a few more single questions.

Q. Did the Air Force expect resistance against the invasion
of Austria?

A. No. We knew definitely that there would be no resistance.
We did not take any arms with us.

Q. How was the reception there?

A. So friendly, it could not be friendlier in our own

Q. Were you, as Field-Marshal, informed in advance that war
was to be declared against the United States?

A. No.

Q. In this trial there are serious accusations against
German soldiers and their leaders on account of cruelties
committed. Was not every soldier sufficiently informed and
instructed about the regulations of International Law?

A. Yes. Each soldier had a pay book. On the first page of
the pay book were pasted ten commandments for the soldier.
They included all these questions.

Q. Can you give me examples of points contained in this

A. Yes. For instance, that no soldier, no prisoner, should
be shot; that looting was not permitted. By the way, I have
my pay book here. Treatment of prisoners of war; Red Cross;
civilian population inviolable; attitude of soldier when
himself prisoner of war and, in conclusion, the threat of
punishment for offences.

Q. If it became known that soldiers had committed offences
or outrages against the civilian population, did the
commanders concerned, so far as you know, interfere with the
severity necessary?

A. I know of some cases, I knew of some cases where that was
definitely the case, even the death penalty being imposed.

Q. So the commanders always strove under all circumstances
to maintain the discipline of the troops?

A. Yes. I can give a notable example. A general of the Air
Force had appropriated jewellery which belonged to a foreign
lady. He was sentenced to death and executed. I think it was
in 1943 or 1944.

Q. Witness, in particular during the critical days of 1939,
you were in close official contact with defendant Goering.
Did you ever hear through him about a large-scale plan for
waging an extensive war?

A. No.

Q. In your opinion, did the other high military leaders hear
or must they have heard about it?

A. No. All measures which were taken by Hitler, to begin
with the occupation of the Rhineland, came very suddenly, as
a rule only after a few hours' preparation. That applies to
Austria; that also applies to Czechoslovakia and to Prague.
The only time that we were told anything beforehand was the
affair with Poland, which I mentioned before, where we had a
conference on 23rd May.

Q. In all other cases, therefore, it was rather a surprise
to the military leaders?

A. Yes, a complete surprise.

Q. Now I have one more question: What was the possibility of
resignation for high military leaders during the war?

A. That has been explained several times. I have also
experienced it myself that it was not permitted to hand in
resignations. It was said if there was reason for anyone to
leave he would be informed by his superiors. In an
authoritarian state the subordinate, the citizen, had no
right to resign on his own initiative, whether he were a
soldier or a civilian.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no more questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn until Monday

(The Tribunal adjourned until 11th March, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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