The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Will you state your full name, please? Can you hear now?

A. Walter von Brauchitsch.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will
speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Field-Marshal, what was the last position which you held?

A. Supreme Commander of the Army.

Q. During what period were you Supreme Commander of the

A. 1938 to 1941.

Q. On 4th February, 1938, you succeeded Colonel-General von
Fritsch as Supreme Commander of the Army. When you took over
this position, did Fritsch inform you of the intentions
which Hitler made known in the conference of 5th November,

A. No.

Q. Did, by any chance, Hitler himself inform you of these

A. No.

Q. Or did Colonel-General Beck, who was then Chief of the
General Staff of the Army, inform you of them?

A. No, he did not either.

Q. Since such plans were in existence, would it have been
necessary to inform you of them on your taking over the post
of Supreme Commander of the Army?

A. In my view, certainly.

Q. When did you learn what was discussed at that conference
of 5th November, 1937?

A. Only here in Nuremberg.

Q. Were you, as Supreme Commander of the Army, consulted by
Hitler before the occupation of Austria?

A. No.

Q. Did a plan exist for military action against Austria?

A. No; at least I do not know of one.

Q. Did that action come as a surprise to you?

A. It came as a complete surprise to me. I was not, as the
witness Gisevius said, called away from the session of the
Court. I was not in Berlin at all, but

                                                   [Page 24]

away on a duty journey. I heard of the orders which were
given only after my return.

Q. Did not doubts arise in your mind at that time?

A. I feared fraternal strife and I feared also that this
action would result in further conflict.

Q. Did not Papen meet you in the Reich Chancellery on 11th
March, 1938, and congratulate you after the order for the
march into Austria had been withdrawn again in the course of
that day?

A. I heartily welcomed the withdrawal of the order to march
in. I was in the Reich Chancellery, and it is quite possible
that Papen congratulated me on that occasion.

Q. Were you consulted on the political questions before the
occupation of the Sudetenland?

A. No, never.

Q. Did a plan for military action exist in this case?

A. For Austria?

Q. No, for the occupation of the Sudenteland.

A. No, no plan existed in this case either.

Q. Did you not, before the end of the Sudeten occupation,
request Field-marshal Keitel to use his whole influence to
ensure that the demarcation lines agreed on should under no
circumstances be overstepped.

A. That is correct.

Q. The witness Gisevius testified here that after May, 1938,
Colonel-General Beck no longer handled the affairs of the
Chief of the General Staff. Is that correct?

A. That is an error. Colonel-General Beck handled the
affairs of the Chief of the General Staff in their entirety
until the 1st September, 1938.

Q. Colonel-General Beck had written a memorandum which has
already been dealt with here, and which therefore I shall
not again bring up in detail. In that  memorandum he opposed
the occupation of the Sudetenland, and warned against a war
on two fronts. What did you do with that memorandum?

A. I had very serious doubts about a policy supported by
military measures. Colonel-General Beck had composed a
memorandum in which he reached the conclusion, from a
military point of view, that a war in the heart of Europe
would lead to a world conflict. Since I believed these
considerations to be absolutely fundamental, I took the
opportunity of presenting them to the Commanding Generals,
whom, for a different reason - for the discussion of
internal Army affairs - I had ordered to a conference in
Berlin. I asked everyone present for his opinion, and we
approved unanimously the ideas contained in the memorandum.
This memorandum was then sent to Hitler. The result was a
heated argument about it, in the course of which he told me,
among other things, that - this was the essence of it - he
alone knew quite well what he had to do.

Q. When, approximately, was that?

A. That was at the end of July, the second half of July,

Q. In what connection was Colonel-General Adam relieved of
his command?

A. A conference of officers of the General Staff with the
Fuehrer, who had convened it, had taken place in August.
During that conference General Adam's chief of staff -
General Adam was Group Commander in Wiesbaden at that time -
had expressed ideas similar to those contained in the
memorandum, and in doing so had cited the authority of his
commanding officer. That was the first incident leading to
his release which, however, did not take place until
October, 1938, after a personal report by General Adam. The
issue concerned an inspection tour of the West Wall, during
which General Adam had expressed his views.

Q. What military preparations did you order before the
occupation of Czechoslovakia?

                                                   [Page 25]

A. I issued no orders at all. Hitler had ordered at that
time that the troops in the near-by army district be kept in
an increased state of alert.

Q. Did a military plan exist for the occupation of

A. A plan did not exist. Only Hitler's orders were executed.

Q. Then things gradually came to a head. Did you, during
1939, warn Hitler against a war?

A. Yes, on account of the instructions given in connection
with the Polish problem. I had very grave anxiety about
Hitler and feared that, against the will of the nation, we
might slide into a war. For that reason I again spoke of
this memorandum in July, 1939, during a talk with Hitler
alone. I also said that he would be risking all the gains
acquired by peaceful means. Hitler would not allow any
argument, as was his habit, and merely replied that it was a
matter for the political leaders, and one that had nothing
to do with me.

Q. Did you not, at that time, have a discussion with Lutze,
who was then the Chief of Staff of the SA?

A. I talked to the Chief of Staff of the SA, and mentioned
to him the fears of which I have just spoken. Lutze shared
my views. I discussed these matters with him in the hope
that he would find an occasion to express these views to

Q. Field-Marshal, were you in touch with the Foreign Office
during this period of tension?

A. No, I was not, because the Foreign Office was not allowed
to send any information to the Supreme Command of the Army.

Q. Were you in touch with other leading political organs?

A. No.

Q. The conference on 23rd May, 1939, is of particularly
great importance. Did you at that time, gain the impression
that war had been decided upon?

A. No. There are a number of circumstances and facts which
gave me the clear impression that there was no intention of
war. May I point out that since the autumn of 1938
negotiations with Poland had been m progress to clear up the
pending questions? Hitler had spoken in the Reichstag about
this problem. He had said that this was the only question
which still required a solution. In previous speeches he had
said that the rebuilding of the Wehrmacht was being carried
out only to protect the homeland. At the end of December,
1938, or during the first days of January, 1939, the High
Command of the Army received from the High Command of the
Wehrmacht the order that the Army should carry out the
proposed and planned construction programme by the year
1945, and that all preparations for any military action or
any other operation were prohibited. At the meeting of 23rd
May, 1939, Hitler said: "I should be an idiot if on account
of Poland I were to slide into a war, like those incapable
people of 1914." He [sic] order that rearmament should
continue during the period for which it had been planned,
that is, up to the years 1942 and 1943; and that order was
directly connected with the one which I had received at the
beginning of the year. Finally, he ordered that commissions
were to be appointed to investigate all the other problems
which had been touched upon. For me, all these facts were
the clearest proof that, in the case of Poland, too, it was
merely a policy supported by military measures.

Q. Did you bring up objections of any kind during that
conference of 23rd May, of which you have just spoken?

A. It was not a conference. It was an address of the Fuehrer
to his subordinates. There was no discussion about it.

Q- Field-Marshal, I think you misunderstood me.

A. No.

 Q.  I was asking you whether during the conference of 23rd
May you voiced objections of any kind?

A. Well, I gave my answer to that.

                                                   [Page 26]

Q. Was a plan of attack against Poland ever worked out
before that time, before May, 1939?

A. No, never.

Q. Did you, on 22nd August, 1939, still hope that war would
be avoided?

A. The reasons for that hope, which I have already
mentioned, remained unchanged. An additional reason was that
the trade agreement signed with the Soviet Union would, in
my view, convince Poland that to settle differences by
negotiations was the best way. Moreover, it was my opinion
that the isolation, of which Hitler had spoken, would also
result in Poland's readiness to negotiate. The decisive
point was that Hitler expressly said the negotiations with
Poland were continuing.

Q. What was the purpose of that speech, that speech of 22nd
August, as you saw it?

Q. In my view, that conference was first of all the
consequence of the objections which I had made to Hitler.
Secondly it was, in my view, Hitler's intention to increase
the confidence of the leaders under him in the policy which
he was pursuing, and to convince them completely of the
logic of his intentions.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn.

(The Court recessed until 1400 hours.)

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the defendant Hess
is absent.



BY DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the OKW and the General

Q. Field-Marshal, this morning we had reached the period of
tension just before the outbreak of the war.

THE PRESIDENT: Apparently the translation is not coming
through - is it all right now?


Q. On 25th August, 1938, the first order for marching in was
rescinded. During those days, did Hitler let you know that
negotiations would continue?

A. He personally gave me the order for the withdrawal of the
order to march in, and on that occasion he told me that
negotiations with Poland were still in progress.

Q. In contrast to the previous occupation of foreign areas,
all preparations before the Polish campaign had been drawn
up for the actual event? Did this lead you to believe that
actually there would be a war then?

A. No, for the following reason: After the Sudeten crisis
Hitler had heard from the various military leaders that
military preparations had not been taken seriously by them,
for the preparations in their scope were not commensurate
with the seriousness of the task at hand. Of course, it is
self-evident that if in political negotiations you wish to
threaten with military might there must be the absolute
impression of seriousness so far as the other party to the
negotiations, as well as your own people, are concerned.

For this very reason, in the case of Poland, Hitler, with
all emphasis, had pressed for preparations with the idea
that they were to be taken seriously.

A second point, however, was to be added. On Hitler's order,
a time schedule had been set up in

                                                   [Page 27]

A. No, I had no idea of that at all.

Q. After the conclusion of the hostile action you had
provided for military administration in Poland. Why was this
not effected?

A. The High Command of the Army had made preparations and
directions to the effect that the appeasement of the
occupied areas was to be brought about as soon as possible.
At the beginning of October I learned about excesses against
the Poles, carried out by personalities who were not under
the jurisdiction of the Army. I reported these matters to
the OKW and took the next occasion to see Hitler personally
and report about them. I asked him to see to it that matters
like these be prevented once and for all. Hitler did not
take any notice of this report of mine.

Frank originally was to have been a civil commissioner under
the Military Commander-in-Chief of Poland. In the second
half of October he was charged with the entire
administration. The Army relinquished its authority.

Q. After the campaign against Poland, did not tension arise
between the OKW and Hitler, and, if so, what were the

A. There were constant conflicts with the leadership of the
Party, and they arose from the most varied points. It would
take me too far afield to enumerate all of them, but I
should like to stress just three.

Point 1 applied to the influence of the chaplains which I
wanted to have retained in the Army under all circumstances;
the second point applied to the influence which the
leadership of the Party demanded in the settlement of
complaints; and the third point was the decree of
Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler, concerning the problem of marriage
and women, which matter I answered in the form of a decree
given to the Army.

Q. Now I should like to put a few questions relating to the
time before the Western offensive.

In connection with the Polish campaign, did the OKH provide
for an offensive against the Western Powers?

A. In no way had an offensive been planned. On the basis of
the order which I just mentioned previously, all
preparations had been prohibited and thereupon, as far as
defensive measures were concerned, no special measures had
been taken in advance. All directives and all directions
which were issued after the Polish campaign to the troops
that were being sent to the West were purely of a defensive

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