The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. But did not the Party and the armed forces work together
on a plan in the interests of the Reich?

A. The Party was working in the political world; and we were
working in the soldier's sphere. We cannot talk of a joint
plan of the Party and the Wehrmacht, because the
prerequisites for it were missing. First of all, the most
important requirement, a common basic attitude, was lacking.
Many methods of the Party, as is known, did not appeal to us
at all; and if there is no agreement even on such basic
questions as, for instance, Christianity, one can only say
that there is a lack of intellectual basis for a single
plan.

The second reason against it was the Party's claim for total
power; it again and again extended its efforts to influence
the armed forces, and I can say that we officers were
fighting a continuous battle against the influences of the
Party which strove for power over our soldiers, thereby to
push aside the soldierly element which we represented.

Then the third reason is that a plan of ours under Hitler
would have been out of the question. If anyone made a plan,
it was Hitler alone, and no one under him was allowed to
make plans, people just had to obey. Quite apart from that,
in the political and practical life of the Third Reich one
branch never knew what the other was doing, or what its
tasks were, so that there again there was no kind of
uniformity. There was, therefore, a lack of all the
necessary prerequisites for such a uniform plan.

                                                   [Page 45]

Q. What was your capacity in the General Staff of the Army?

A. In the General Staff, that is to say, the central
department of it, I was from 1929 to 1932 employed as senior
General Staff Officer, so to speak, in the First Division of
the Troops Department. Then in 1935 I became the Chief of
the Operations Department of the Army, and in 1936 I became
"Oberquartiermeister I," that is to say, Deputy Chief of the
General Staff of the Army.

Q. Did the Operations department come under your command as
"Oberquartiermeister"?

A. Yes, the Operations Department came under my orders. So
did the Organization Department and various other ones.

Q. So that you as the Chief of the Operations Department
would have had to deal with the employment of troops in the
event of war?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. But then you must have been informed about the aim and
the degree of armament?

A. Yes.

Q. Please be very brief.

A. The goal of our armament, first of all, in the twenties,
in the years before the seizure of power, was the most
elementary security against an unprovoked attack on the part
of even one of our neighbours. After all, since all our
neighbours had certain designs on German territories, we had
to reckon with such a possibility at all times. We were
perfectly aware of the fact that at best we could stand up
to such an attack for a few weeks only. But we were not
satisfied with that, to prevent, for instance, in the event
of an attack by Poland, a fait accompli being created by the
occupation of Upper Silesia. We wanted to make sure we could
go on fighting until the League of Nations would intervene.
Practically speaking, we were relying upon the League of
Nations, and we could only do so if we ourselves could in no
circumstances whatsoever be called the aggressors. At all
times, therefore, we had to avoid everything which might be
considered a violation of the Treaty of Versailles, or a
provocation. For that reason we in the First Division of the
Troops Department had formed a special group of officers who
had the sole duty, whenever the OKH or at that time Army
G.H.Q. were issuing orders, to make sure that no such
violations would result from them.

Q. Did you have plans for a mobilization at the time when
you were "Oberquartiermeister I"?

A. Yes. We had the very first mobilization plan, which
became valid on the 1st April, 1930; it was the
transformation of the 100,000 man-army to a war footing.
That mobilization plan was then brought up to date annually
after 1930.

Q. And before that time?

A. Until then there was no mobilization plan at all.

Q. Were there plans for strategic concentrations?

A. Plans for strategic concentrations did not exist at all
from the end of the Great War until 1935. In 1935 the first
strategic concentration plan was worked out, it was the so-
called "red" concentration which was a defensive forming up
along the Rhine; that is along our Western frontier, with
defensive forming up at the Czechoslovak and Polish
frontiers at the same time. And then there was a second
concentration plan called "green" which was made ready in
1937 , that -

THE PRESIDENT: Witness by "forming-up" do you mean
deployment? What do you call a forming-up plan? You mean
deployment?

THE WITNESS: By a "forming up" or "concentration plan" I
understand a plan according to which troops, in the event of
a threat of war, are got ready along the frontiers; a plan,
therefore, for the event of a political conflagration being
threatened. Whether it would lead to war - whether it is
from this assembly

                                                   [Page 46]

 that one would enter into a war, that has actually nothing
to do with the concentration plan. The concentration or
forming-up plan merely states where the troops are to be
assembled and, in the event of war, what would be the first
tasks for the army groups and armies.

BY DR. LATERNSER:

Q. Were those all the troop concentration plans, which you
have just described?

A. Those were the two forming-up plans which I as Deputy
Chief of the General Staff had been engaged with. The
concentration plan "white," which was against Poland, was
not worked out during my time. It must have been worked on
in 1939.

Q. When did you cease to be "Oberquartiermeister I" at the
OKH?

A. I left on the 4th February, 1938, at the time when
General von Fritsch was removed.

Q. And at that time the plan for concentration against
Poland was not yet in existence?

A. No. Only the concentration plan "red" existed, which was
a defensive securing of the Polish frontier in the event of
war.

Q. What was the attitude of the OKH, with reference to the
declaration of Germany's military sovereignty in 1935? At
that time you were still in the OKH, were you not?

A. 1935 ... No, I was still Chief of the General Staff at
the headquarters of Wehrkreis 3 (Military Area No. 3) when
military sovereignty was declared. But from my knowledge of
the General Staff I know that that declaration completely
surprised all of us at the time. I personally, and my
commanding general in Berlin, only heard of it over the
radio. The General Staff, had it been asked, would have
considered 21 divisions as the size of an army increase
which we would at that time consider suitable and attainable
from a practical point of view. The figure of 36 divisions
was due to a spontaneous decision made by Hitler.

Q. Was the occupation of the Rhineland demanded by the
military, and was it intended as a preparation for war?

A. No. We did not demand the military occupation. First of
all, we did not intend it to be a preparation for war. On
the contrary, at the time the occupation was carried out, I
was the Chief of the Operations Department, and I myself had
to draft the orders for that occupation. Since we were
completely surprised by the decision of the Fuehrer, I had
only one afternoon to do it in, because the following
morning the generals concerned came to receive their orders.
I know that at that time the Reich Minister of War and
General von Fritsch stated their objections, because they
warned Hitler against such a one-sided solution of this
question. That warning is the first source, in my opinion,
of the distrust which subsequently the Fuehrer increasingly
felt for the generals. Later, at a private conference I had
with him, he himself admitted that that was so, and
particularly as Blomberg at that time, when France was
mobilising thirteen divisions, had suggested that the three
battalions which we had pushed across the Rhine to the
western bank should be withdrawn. The intentions we then had
for the fortification of the Rhineland were purely defensive
ones. The Siegfried Line was planned, just as was the
Maginot Line, as a wall which would be as insurmountable as
possible in the event of attack.

Q. To what extent did military leaders participate in the
case of Austria? Surely you are well informed about that,
Field-Marshal?

A. One morning, and quite to my surprise, I was summoned to
the Fuehrer, together with General Beck, the Chief of the
General Staff. It was, I think, about eleven o'clock. The
Commander-in-Chief of the Army was not in Berlin. Hitler
revealed to us that he had decided that the Austrian
question was to be settled, in view of the intentions
announced by Schuschnigg the day before. He

                                                   [Page 47]

demanded our suggestions for a march into Austria, should
this be necessary. The Chief of the General Staff thereupon
suggested . . . explained that we should have to mobilize
the corps required for this, viz., the VII and XIII Bavarian
Corps and a Panzer division, but that such a mobilization,
in fact such a measure, was in no way prepared, since the
political leaders had never given us even as much as a hint
of such instructions. It would be necessary, therefore, to
improvise everything.

First of all, the Fuehrer did not want to agree to this
mobilization, but then he realised that if he wanted to
march in at all, troops would have to be mobile, and he
agreed, saying that he would have to march in on the
following Saturday - the day before the intended plebiscite
- if he wanted to march in at all. The result of it was that
the order for the mobilization of these corps had to be
given that very day, if the mobilization and assembly of the
forces on the border were to be completed in good time.

The conference started about 11 o'clock and went on until
about one and the orders would have to be ready to go out
that afternoon at six o'clock. They went out twenty minutes
late; I had to draft the orders for this concentration
myself, so that I had four or five hours altogether to do it
in. Before that, no thought whatever had been given to such
a thing. The so-called Case "Otto" had nothing at all to do
with this affair.

Q. So that, as the man responsible for the working out of
this order, you had just a few hours from the moment when
you knew nothing until the moment the order was ready to
issue?

A. Yes, that is right - about four or five hours.

Q. Did you as the responsible Oberquartiermeister I (Deputy
Chief of General Staff, Operations), responsible for war
plans, know anything at all about the conference which
Hitler held on 5th November, 1935?

A. No, I knew nothing about it.

Q. Did you participate in the conference of 10th August,
1938?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser ... Witness, the Tribunal would
like to know what you say the Plan "Otto" was for. What was
the plan made for?

A. We in the Army did not have a completed plan called
"Otto." I only know that that was a code word for some
measures or other of the OKW in the event of a restoration
attempt on the part of the Hapsburgs in Austria, in
connection with Italy. That possibility was always pending,
and I want to supplement my statement by saying that at the
time when Hitler gave us the orders for Austria his chief
worry had been not so much that there might be interference
on the part of the Western Powers, but his only worry was as
to how Italy would behave, because it appeared that Italy
always stuck together with Austria and the Hapsburgs.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, are you telling the Tribunal that you
do not know whether the Plan "Otto" was a plan for the
German Army or part of it to march into Austria?

A. No, the Plan "Otto" only returned to my mind and became
clear to me when I read the interrogation record of Jodl. In
any case, a plan for a march into Austria did not exist in
the OKH, because I had to prepare these orders within a few
hours after the conference with Hitler.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but if the Plan "Otto" was not a plan
for the marching into Austria, what was it for?

A. That I cannot say because I only know that it was some
sort of plan on the part of the OKW connected with an
attempted restoration of the Hapsburgs in Austria but we
ourselves did not introduce any measures, as far as I can
remember, nor do I know whether I myself had anything at all
to do with this code name at the time; it may be so, but I
do not know now.

                                                   [Page 48]

THE PRESIDENT: Go on.

BY DR. LATERNSER:

Q. Field-Marshal, you participated in the conference on 10th
August, 1938. What was the purpose of that conference? What
was said there?

A. That conference was something quite unusual. The Fuehrer
had ordered to appear before him at the Berghof the Chiefs
of the General Staffs of those armies which, in the event of
a march into Czechoslovakia, would have to take up p their
positions on the frontier; but he did not summon the
Commanders-in-Chief to appear, as would have been natural,
but only - I might say - the younger generation of Army
chiefs. He must have known from the memorandum of General
Beck and its submission by General von Brauchitsch that the
Commanders-in-Chief and Commanding Generals opposed any
policy which might lead to a war, and that was why he
summoned us, in order to convince us of the necessity and
the correctness of his decision.

This was the first and only time, at a meeting of this kind,
that he permitted questions and a sort of discussion
afterwards. This was a mistake on his part in so far as even
the Chiefs of the General Staffs raised objections regarding
the possibility of an interference on the part of the
Western Powers and generally, regarding the danger of a war
that might ensue. This led to a very serious and most
unpleasant clash between the Fuehrer and General von
Wietersheim with reference to these questions. After that,
whenever such meetings took place, there was not a single
occasion when any question at all, or discussions, were
permitted by him.

Q. Were the operations in Austria and the Sudetenland to be
considered military rehearsals for a war?

A. No, that they certainly were not, because not only were
our troops not fully mobilised but the mobilization of these
corps on the occasion of the march into Austria also
demonstrated to us in any case that nothing had advanced
sufficiently to carry out a reasonably satisfactory
mobilization. If a war had occurred, neither our Western
frontier nor our Polish frontier could really have been
effectively defended by us, and there is no doubt
whatsoever, if Czechoslovakia had defended herself, that we
should have been hung up by her fortifications, for in
practice we did not have the means to break through. It
cannot therefore be called a military rehearsal. But it was
a matter of testing the political nervous system.

Q. When you were informed of the military preparations
against Poland, did you have the impression that an
aggressive war was intended?

A. I was considered for the position of Chief of the General
Staff of Army Group South in the mobilization plan for the
Polish campaign. When I received the plans for the assembly
I realised that it really was a strategic concentration for
an attack, but there were various very essential points
which militated against an intention of aggression.

The first one was that in the spring of 1939, and by order
of the Fuehrer, a sudden start was made with the erection of
the strongest fortifications along all the Eastern frontier.
Not only thousands of workers but entire divisions were
employed there to build these fortifications, and the entire
material from the Czech fortifications was transported there
and built in. A strip of the most fertile land in Silesia
was taken up by these fortifications, and that, of course,
would indicate anything but an aggressive intention.

The second point which was against it was the fact that
training continued on an entirely peace-time basis. I myself
- I was a divisional commander in peace time - remained with
my division at the training camp in Lusatia, far away,
therefore, from that part of the country where my division
would have to be drawn up.

                                                   [Page 49]

Besides, we knew of Chamberlain's speech in the House of
Commons in which he assured the Poles of Britain's
assistance, and since Hitler, on every occasion during the
time I was in the OKH, repeated the statement that he would
never enter into a war on two fronts, one could not possibly
think that, in view of that promise, he would indulge in
such an adventurous policy.

On the other hand, however, we had the most reliable
information - which was confirmed by subsequent facts - that
the Poles were proposing to assemble their troops in
Posnania for an offensive towards Berlin. We completely
failed to understand this intention in view of the entire
situation, but in fact that was the way the Poles drew up
their troops at a later stage. The eventuality of a war
might well be envisaged, therefore, and it was most likely,
due to the possibility that the Poles could look to Britain
for assistance; and if the political negotiations should
reach a crisis, the Poles might on their part do something
reckless and themselves attack, since they were already
forming up offensively; then, of course, a war would have
been inevitable.

Considering all these signs, one could hardly assume that
Hitler would, so to speak, pick a quarrel with Poland to
initiate an aggressive war against her. The conference at
Obersalzburg, for instance, on 22nd August, did not give me
the impression, either, that war was bound to come, an
impression that was neither mine nor that of the Commander-
in-Chief, Field-Marshal von Rundstedt, until 31st August or
1st September of that year, since an order to march in had
been withdrawn on the 25th.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours, 10th August, 1946.)

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