The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Then it is fair to say that what you objected to about
Hitler in this matter were his methods?

A. That I do not understand. I do not understand what you

Q. What aims did you and your colleagues hope to gain
through Hitler on the question of rearmament if not through
the methods Hitler himself was using?

A. The aim itself achieved by rearmament was to protect
ourselves from an aggressive war, particularly coming from
the East. This had been attempted earlier by the Stresemann
Government, by peaceful means through Geneva. What I said
regarding the speed of the rearmament was in answer to a
question by the defence counsel whether Hitler ever
criticized the generals. I myself have never discussed
rearmament with Hitler giving him my point of view.

Q. Now, you knew; from reading the newspapers, did you not,
that Hitler was adopting what I would call a diplomatic

                                                  [Page 101]

A. I do not know what you mean by that. He effected a
diplomatic offensive at Munich and at Godesberg. Is that
what you mean by it?

Q. Let me put it in a slightly different way. Was it not
clear to any reasonably well-informed citizen that a strong
military machine was an essential part of Hitler's general
foreign policy, was it or was it not clear?

A. That was evident, for with Hitler's creation of this
military machine Germany could feel secure against any
attack from abroad. What we had not succeeded in doing by
peaceful means, Hitler achieved with a stroke of his pen;
that is, the rearmament programme. But I stress the fact
once more, for an attack on Poland, these limited thirty-six
divisions were far too weak.

Q. Now is it your opinion that Schuschnigg would have given
in to Hitler if he had not known that Hitler had a strong
military machine?

A. That, I do not believe

DR. LATERNSER: I object, Mr. President. This question is not
permissible because the witness does not know what
Schuschnigg thought at the moment and he cannot testify as
to what was in the mind of Schuschnigg. I request that this
question be ruled out.

MR. CALVACORESSI: My Lord, I should have thought it was a
question of common knowledge and that everyone was
discussing this matter at the time. I am not asking him what
was in Schuschnigg's mind, but I am asking whether in his
mind he thought Hitler could have achieved what he did
achieve without a strong arm. He can give an answer to that

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps the Tribunal can judge for themselves
about it.

MR. CALVACORESSI: If your Lordship pleases. I do not want to
go over ground that has already been very well covered, but
I only want to draw your attention to this matter which, of
course, has not been gone over in connection with this
particular part of the case. My Lord, if the Tribunal wish
to refresh their minds on this point, I would ask them to
refer to that part of the transcript from Page 6876, where
the defendant Ribbentrop was cross-examined on matters
concerning it.

THE WITNESS: I am very willing to answer the question.


Q. I do not think, witness that the Tribunal is interested
in hearing any more on this point. Now, the last point with
which I want to deal is the question of the conduct of the
war. You know, of course, about the Commando Order and it is
not necessary for us to look at it again. You had said today
that it was never carried out in your area when you were in
the West?

A. Yes.

Q. And you told the OKW in 1944 that it had been carried

A. Yes.

Q. Will you please state, categorically, which of those two
statements is true, because they cannot both be true.

A. They do not conflict because I told the defence counsel
that the Commando order was not carried out by us, it was
put through without comment. Since, however, it went to the
Army from Hitler and had been announced in the Army
bulletin, one would have had to say at that time: "No, I
will not carry out that order," and then one would have been
dismissed. We simply did not carry out the order, and when I
asked to have it rescinded, I wrote in paragraph I: "The
order has been followed." That was, as I will call it
openly, an insincerity. I told you why I said so, I cannot
explain it in any other way. Anyhow, I beg you to believe me
that it was not carried out.

Q. Whether it was issued or not, there is no doubt, is
there, whether it was carried out or not, and there is no
doubt that it was issued through regular Army channels and
whatever may be the true picture of the number of men who
may have

                                                  [Page 102]

lost their lives as a result of the issuance of this illegal
order, it is clear, is it not, that the mere issuing of this
order through regular Army channels shows that there was
something wrong with, something rotten in the military
leadership of Germany?

A. There was not a single person in the West who lost his
life on the strength of that Commando Order.

Q. The German soldier is well known for his discipline, is
he not?

A. Yes.

Q. And you would not suggest, I suppose, that he is more
liable to commit excesses than any other soldier?

A. That never happened in this case either. I want to tell
you again that in the West not a single man was killed on
account of that Commando Order.

Q. Well, I want to leave the Commando Order now. In general,
supposing for the sake of argument that we find that the
German soldier is normally well-disciplined and well-
behaved, if he would act and behave with unnecessary
brutality, would you not feel compelled to look for some
extraordinary outside motive?

A. Within my field of authority no brutalities occurred.

Q. If they did occur, you would have to look for some such
motive, would you not?

A. If the Commando Order was carried out elsewhere in
another theatre of war, then the commander of the unit in
question acted in accordance with Hitler's order, which they
had to assume as founded on International Law.

Q. I have already said that we are not talking about the
Commando Order any more. I am going to suggest to you that
if German soldiers, for the sake of argument, behaved badly
in occupied territory, a logical reason for it would be the
knowledge by them that their commanders had a ruthless
disregard and indifference for the sufferings of the

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks it is too hypothetical a
question to put to him.

MR. CALVACORESSI: If your Lordship pleases.


Q. You commanded the Army Group South in Russia in the
autumn of 1941, did you not?

A. Yes, the Army Group South.

Q. And one of your subordinate commanders was Field-Marshal
von Reichenau?

A. Yes.

Q. And you no doubt heard many times about the order which
Field-Marshal von Reichenau issued to the 6th Army about how
to behave in Russia?

A. I never discussed that with him nor do I recollect that I
had seen that order and had spoken about it as Chief of
Staff before I was taken to England. Von Reichenau had
repeatedly given orders which the army group never received
and which did not apply to it either. I do not recollect
having seen the so-called severity order (Haertebefehl) but
I do not deny on the other hand that through some channels
it may have reached my army group and probably got into the
office. At any rate, my former first general staff officer,
who is also interned here in Nuremberg, cannot recollect
either that we received that order for our information. It
was a matter of course that one could not approve of that
order, particularly since it was in contradiction of the
clear order -

Q. Well, just a minute, please. I only asked if you knew of
its existence, and I take it from what you have been saying
that you did not know of its existence. Are you saying that
Reichenau was exceptional in these matters?

A. Yes, correct.

Q. That he was exceptional?

A. Considering Reichenau's entire attitude and his
character, I assume that to be the case. General von
Manstein, General von Kleist, General Schobert,

                                                  [Page 103]

General von Stuelpnagel would never have issued such an
order on their own, especially since ... may I go on? -
General von Brauchitsch had given the strictest orders that
the conduct of the war in the East was to be carried out in
an absolutely soldierly manner and in accordance with the
rules and regulations.

Q: You see, yesterday we had put in evidence an order of
General Field-Marshal von Manstein which was strikingly
similar to the "Rundstedt" order. In some passages -

A. The "Reichenau" order, you mean.

THE PRESIDENT: You said the "Rundstedt" order.

MR. CALVACORESSI: I beg your pardon, my Lord.


Now, you commanded three, or was it four, armies in Army
Group South?

A. I had four armies under my command and the Roumanians

Q. And of these four armies which fought so far away so many
years ago, we have recovered orders of this kind from two. I
put it to you that any soldier of the 6th Army or the 11th
Army who received this order would be justified in assuming
that his Commanders-in-Chief were encouraging or at least
tolerating excesses, and now, just to show you that these
matters were not confined to the one army group or even to
one front, I want you to look at this signal, Document 4067-
PS, and it will be Exhibit USA 930.

My Lord, it is convenient to put this in at this point: I am
not suggesting that the witness is himself personally
concerned with it. This is a signal that was made to the
Panzer Army Africa in June, 1942, and I will read it, as it
is pretty short, in full


  "For Panzer Army Africa via the German General with the
  Supreme Command of the Italian Armed Forces in Rome. -
  OKH/Quartermaster-General for information - Supreme
  Command of the Air Force/Quartermaster-General for
  information-OKW/WR for information. Top Secret, only to
  be transmitted via officers. According to information
  received, numerous German political refugees are supposed
  to be amongst the Free French units in Africa. The
  Fuehrer has ordered that they are to be treated with the
  greatest severity. They are therefore to be disposed of
  without mercy in battle. Where this has not happened,
  they are to be shot nevertheless on the command of the
  nearest German officer immediately and without further
  ado, as long as they do not have to be kept back for the
  time being for purposes of intelligence. Handing a
  written copy of this order is forbidden. Commanders are
  to be informed verbally."

It is unsigned.

You see, whoever sent this order was conscious of its
criminality as appears quite clearly from the last two
sentences: "The Fuehrer has ordered that they are to be
treated with the greatest severity." The order which the
Army puts on that, in sending it out, is to kill. Do you
remember the death of Field-Marshal Rommel?

A. Yes.

Q. It was generally supposed at the time, was it not, that
there was something suspicious about the death of Rommel;
did you hear these rumours at that time?

A. No, I did not hear those rumours; otherwise I would have
refused to act as a representative of the Fuehrer at the
State funeral for Field-Marshal Rommel; that would have been
an infamy beyond words.

I only heard of those rumours from the American papers after
I was taken prisoner. According to these, Rommel's young son
was supposed to have said that his father took poison in
order not to be hanged.

Q. You never heard during all these months that preceded the
death of Rommel up to the end of the war, that it was being
generally said that Rommel had been "bumped off ".

                                                  [Page 104]

A. No; it was merely said that he had been under suspicion.

MR. CALVACORESSI: My Lord, I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Any other cross-examination? Dr. Laternser.



Q. Field-Marshal, you have been questioned with reference to
Affidavit No. 4, which comes from Field-Marshal von
Brauchitsch and is Exhibit USA 335. The prosecution attached
value to the assertion, as stated in this affidavit, that in
this manner - through personal visits of the supreme
commanders - the supreme commander was in a position to get
the advice of the other high commanders under him. What was
the nature of such advice; on which subject could it have
been given and in which way?

A. The matter was very simple. Let me go back a bit. Say I
am the commander of a regiment and give a task to my
battalion commander saying: "You will attack that village
with your battalion," and I go to see him and ask him, " How
do you want me to do this?" Upon which he replies, " I
should rather like to go to the left or farther to the right
where there is a better terrain." It is the same on a higher
level. The Commander-in-Chief of the Army comes to see me,
the army group commander, and he may say: "von Rundstedt,
how are you going to do it?" and I might say, "In such and
such a way and perhaps I will need one more division." That
is the only way of doing it, a kind of friendly discussion.
But I would never say to my superior, "What you are doing is
wrong, do it differently." Is this intelligible as I put it?

Q. I think so; then it concerns a discussion as to how the
special task assigned to that troop was to be carried out?

A. It was not a discussion with the chief commander
"whether" it was to be carried out, but a short discussion
on "how" it was to be carried out and how best it could be
achieved. Sometimes even a subordinate has a clever plan
which the superior accepts gratefully. That, of course, was
out of the question as far as Hitler was concerned.

Q. And on the other hand, there were always discussions and
meetings concerning the solving of tasks in all the armies?

A. Yes, I think so.

Q. Now, with reference to the Affidavit No. 5, of General
Blaskowitz. The prosecution l as emphasized that leaders of
army groups and armies had been in contact by means of
telephone, teletype and radio and had thus been in a
position to get situation reports from each other. Are we
not concerned with the ordinary daily communiques which
every unit commander had to make so as to facilitate any
military leadership?

A. Yes, definitely. These situation reports were made up in
the morning on what happened during the previous night, and
in the evening on what happened during the day. If there was
an action which was of particular importance to me as the
superior commander, then I would ask for reports not only
once or twice but possibly three times, by telephone or by
teletype: "How are things going? How are you doing? Are you
advancing or retreating?" That is the meaning of it.

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