The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/11/19

Q. And in any case, the Norwegian invasion was not the
affair of the OKH, but of the OKW?

A. I cannot tell you whether it was an affair of the Navy or
of the OKW.

Q. Now, in general, before the war, you would say your
picture is: the generals were left alone to occupy
themselves with training exercises and the training of
relatively small details and units. Is that a fair summary
of the evidence you gave before the Commission?

A. That probably is a misunderstanding. The smaller training
exercises were a matter for the divisional commanders and
commanding generals, and only General von Fritsch asked the
supreme commanders that they too should concern themselves
with smaller details occasionally.

Q. Anyhow, during this period when the boundaries of Germany
were rapidly expanding, you say that the problem of defence
came first in the minds of the military leadership of
Germany?

A. I did not quite understand that. Did you say the borders
of Germany were expanding? That was not the case. It was
only in 1938 through the Sudeten affair and until -

Q. I mean from the beginning of the period of the Anschluss
until tile outbreak of the war with Poland?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. And you said this morning that the exercises which were
held at that time were defensive exercises, defensive
manoeuvres?

                                                   [Page 97]

A. I did not hold any manoeuvres any more. After the Sudeten
war in 1938, I was pensioned. Whether and to what extent
manoeuvres were carried out in 1939 is beyond my knowledge.

Q. And you referred this morning to pre 1939 manoeuvres, and
as I understand it, you spoke of these manoeuvres as simply
defensive exercises?

A. Yes. These were the manoeuvres in 1936 and 1937. During
the latter, I myself, as an army commander, was leading an
army in Pomerania against an enemy attack on Germany.

Q. Would you describe as defensive exercises those which
were held with Stukas and other forces at Guernica in Spain?

A. About that I cannot give you any information. When the
rearmament had been decided upon in 1935 or 1936, I think
the air force introduced Stukas too. But I do not know that.
At any rate, I considered that at that time any type of
weapon was justified within the rearmed Army.

Q. We will pass on to another point. You told us that German
officers were severely aloof from politics?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it not the case that this policy is very closely
associated with the name of General von Seeckt?

A. General von Seeckt took the greatest care in the
Reichswehr that no officer concerned himself with political
matters. What he himself did politically, that is another
story, and about that I cannot give you any information.

Q. Is it not true to say that the reason why General von
Seeckt was determined to keep the Army out of politics is
the fact that at the time when he took over there had just
been the Kapp Putsch?

A. That I do not believe. It is a very ancient Prussian
tradition that an officer does not concern himself with
politics. And General von Seeckt was just as loyal to the
right - as in the Kapp Putsch - as to the left - the
Communist revolt in the Ruhr, for example - always
supporting the constitution of the Weimar Government. That
was our general attitude.

Q. I have no doubt that all is perfectly true, but I suggest
to you that this whole Prussian policy was revised and
insisted upon by von Seeckt because as a result of the Kapp
Putsch he saw how important it was to keep the Army out of
entanglements with incompetent politicians.

A. That is entirely my view too. All the more since the
Hitler Putsch in 1923 placed the Army in a very difficult
position because the Bavarian division was commencing to
detach itself from Seeckt.

Q. Now, Kapp was a failure, was he not? He tried
unsuccessfully to overthrow the Republic?

A. No. Seeckt never tried to overthrow the Republic.

Q. I said Kapp.

A. I beg your pardon then; I misunderstood you.

Q. I will repeat that Kapp was a failure, was he not? He
tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the Republic?

A. Kapp was a failure and a very stupid one at that, a very
stupid putsch which could never succeed.

Q. But after 1933 or 1934 Hitler was not a failure, was he?

A. I shall have to state that Hitler, under Hindenburg's
Government, by legal means, namely, by the majority of the
people, was called into the Government, as the leader of the
strongest party. That was a perfectly democratic way in
keeping with the constitution, and not by means of a putsch.

Q. I am not concerned with the forms of democracy or
anything like that. I was only asking you whether, after
1933-1934, it was plain that Hitler was not a failure; he
was doing very well, was he not?

A. He had the majority of the people behind him.

                                                   [Page 98]

Q. That is an ascent to success which we pass over. Colonel-
General Reinhart has said that there was no single officer
who did not back up Hitler in his extraordinary successes.
Do you agree with that?

A. No.

Q. Von Blomberg has said that you and your colleagues in the
Army had at that time no reason to oppose Hitler because he
produced the results you desired? Do you disagree with that,
too?

A. That is not quite correct. We did our duty because Hitler
had been legally made Chancellor by Hindenburg, and because,
after his death, he appeared as Fuehrer.

Q. Well, the answer is no, you do not agree with the Field-
Marshal?

A. I have never agreed with Field-Marshal von Blomberg at
any time.

Q. Have you at any time agreed with Generaloberst
Blaskowitz?

A. How am I to understand that? He was one of my
subordinates; but I cannot confirm what he has said in the
affidavits in that form.

Q. Well, I am only putting to you the fact that when
Hitler's power was assured and there was no more danger of
his being a failure, the political, as well as the non-
political opponents began to disappear.

A. We always remained non-political. Of course there were
active National Socialists, like Reichenau and Blomberg, who
were in the Army, but the bulk was politically quite
indifferent.

Q. Surely it is common ground, is it not, that there was a
lot in common between Hitler's policy and the general
aspirations of you and your colleagues immediately after
1933?

A. Yes; that is to say the equality aimed at by Hitler and
achieved by him was welcomed by us, and that which was good
in the National Socialist movement, as I have already
emphasized, and which was mostly taken over from old
Prussian ideologies, we of course welcomed also; but we all
disapproved of the excesses which I have mentioned earlier,
the older generation at any rate.

Q. When you say that there was a certain amount that was
good in National Socialist ideas and that that was taken
over from the old Prussian times, are you not saying that
Hitler revived the old Prussian policy of Nationalistic
expansion and that you were glad about it?

A. That had very little to do with politics as such. The
principles are important: care for the worker, just as under
Bismarck, social welfare, common good which takes precedence
over all personal interest-those are the things I am
referring to.

Q. Now before the war did you and your colleagues at the
head of the Army discuss the question of the neutrality of
Belgium, for instance?

A. To my knowledge, no. We were not thinking of Belgium. We
always believed, as I said earlier today, that Poland would
some day attack Germany.

Q. Did you not say before the Commission that you used to
have discussions about the neutrality of Belgium?

A. No, that must be a mistake. Answering the question put by
the American Prosecutor, I only replied that a march through
Belgium, into the Ruhr was considered possible by us.

Q. Well, I have here a copy of the transcript of what was
said before the Commission.

I only need to read one sentence and it is at Page 1352 of
the English version. According to what I have here you said
that "The opinion concerning the neutrality of Belgium and
the Netherlands was very much doubted within the higher
military circles." Now this is what I want to ask you about
that: if you discussed that question, was that not a
political discussion?

A. May I just correct that? This statement before the
Commission was made concerning 1939, when we had drawn up
our troops in the West, and when the

                                                   [Page 99]

question arose whether Holland and Belgium would remain
neutral or not. My answer was given in that connection at
the time.

Q. Very well. You have also said that you opposed or you
fought Nazi totalitarian ideas; is that right?

A. May I ask you to repeat that question to me, please?

Q. You have said, I believe, that you opposed Nazi
totalitarian ideas?

A. We could not put up any resistance. I opposed it, as so
many of my comrades did.

Q. Well, was not that a political attitude, a political
standpoint?

A. Everybody can have a political standpoint for himself but
a soldier cannot participate in political activities. That
is what I understand by a political standpoint.

Q. A soldier, then, in your view, has political views but
may not express them; is that right?

A. Yes, that could be applicable. Of course one could speak
to a good friend about such questions and discuss them, but
there was never a meeting or a body called together for the
purpose of discussing political questions.

Q. Now I want to move on to the late 1930's. When you say
that all the generals - I forget your exact words this
morning, but most of the generals, you said, do maintain the
old non-political attitude. I want to show you a document.

MR. CALVACORESSI: My Lord, this is 4060-PS and it will be
Exhibit USA 928.

BY MR. CALVACORESSI:

Q. Now this is a draft of a speech which General Reinecke
proposed to give in the autumn of 1938 to some of the up and
coming military people. General Reinecke held a very high
position in the German Army, did he not?

A. At the end he was the Supreme Chairman of that National
Socialist leadership training outfit; in 1938 he must still
have been a junior staff officer, a very low grade of staff
officer.

Q. What do you mean by a junior staff officer; by the middle
of the war he was one of the few people who were immediately
subordinated to Keitel, was he not?

A. About that I cannot give you any information.

Q. But, anyhow, at this time he was a colonel. It is Page 2.

A. Yes.

Q. After all, he was a very high ranking officer.

A. Yes. But still one of the younger officers. About this
entire subject I cannot give any testimony. I have never at
any time had anything to do with it. As I have mentioned, I
was no longer active in November, 1938, and so I cannot give
you any information about these training courses.

Q. All I am asking you to do is to look at certain passages
in this document which I shall indicate to you and which, in
my submission, show that the extreme non-political attitude
of the generals was not maintained at this time.

A. That will be applicable in so far as Hitler tried
everything to make the armed forces National Socialist
minded -

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Calvacoressi, the witness has said that
he was retired at the time and has never seen the document.
You can put it in if it is a new document.

MR. CALVACORESSI: Should I read from this point or would it
be more convenient at the end of the cross-examination?

THE PRESIDENT: I think we can look at it ourselves.

MR. CALVACORESSI: If your Lordship pleases. My Lord, there
is another document which bears on the same subject and
which I will also put in at this point. That is 4065-PS, and
will be Exhibit USA 929.

THE PRESIDENT: What is the number of the PS?

                                                  [Page 100]

MR. CALVACORESSI: 4065, my Lord.

BY MR. CALVACORESSI:

Q. Now, Field-Marshal, I want to ask you a few questions
about the rearmament of Germany. You have told as that that
was purely defensive. Do you maintain that?

A. I had said before that the measures against Poland,
mentioned in Blomberg's affidavit, were of a purely
defensive nature. After the rearmament was carried out up to
thirty-six divisions, the German Army alone was still too
weak to conduct an aggressive war against Poland, not to
speak of aggression against a Western or an Eastern
neighbour. I still maintain my opinion that we are here
concerned with a defensive measure. If Hitler had planned a
war of aggression, he would at least have been compelled to
have three to four times as many divisions. This was utterly
impossible.

Q. Well, if you are defending yourselves, you must be
defending yourselves against somebody, and you said before
the Commission that you were, among other things, taking
defensive measures against the Lithuanians.

A. Yes.

Q. Are you still asking the Tribunal to believe that you
were very much concerned with the defence of Germany against
the Lithuanians?

A. May I give my answer? I called it, at the time, the basis
for the various games of war. Lithuania was menacing the
isolated province of East Prussia, because at that time
there was only one, and later three divisions. The Poles and
Czechs added together were fully in a position to attack
entire eastern Germany, not to mention that the French might
have crossed the Rhine in the West. Those were the
statements which I made, and which were the basis for our
manoeuvres. How were we going to defend ourselves against an
invasion from the East and West, or from the East alone, or
from the West alone?

Q. Well, now, we have already had that. You have never
agreed with General von Blomberg on any point, but I think I
will draw your attention to the fact that in June, 1937,
Marshal von Blomberg - who was, after all, War Minister and
Commander-in-Chief at that time - issued a directive in
which he said that Germany need not consider an attack from
any side. That is already in evidence, my Lord. It is a
quotation from Document C-175, Exhibit USA 69.

Now, you said that you thought Germany ought to rearm apart
from any war. Was it your opinion that Hitler was rearming
too fast?

A. No, on the contrary.

Q. He was not arming fast enough?

A. Well in a sense he was rearming too fast and he accused
Generals von Fritsch and von Blomberg of trying to slow down
the speedy rearmament. Many divisional commanders adopted
the same attitude. We could not keep pace with the
rearmament programme as we did not have enough trained
reservists.


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