The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/6

Q. And you in turn issued an order on l7th June, 1944, when
you were commanding in Italy? Do you remember that? I will
show you in one moment, if I can get the German copy out of
the file. I will just read a short passage again so that the
Tribunal will have it in mind; but, Witness, please refer to
any other passage because I want to give a fair impression
of the order:

  "(1) The Partisan situation in the Italian theatre,
  particularly central, Italy, has recently deteriorated to
  such an extent that it constitutes a serious danger to
  the fighting troops and their supply lines as well as to
  the war industry and economic potential. The fight
  against the Partisans
  
                                                   [Page 54]
  
  must be carried on with all means at our disposal and
  with the utmost severity. I will protect any commander
  who exceeds our usual restraint in the choice of severity
  of the methods he adopts against Partisans. In this
  connection the old principle holds good that a mistake in
  the choice of methods in executing one's orders is better
  than failure or neglect to act."

Do you remember that, Witness?

A. Yes, I remember that order.

Q. Do you remember three days later, so that there will be
no mistake as to what you meant, that you issued this
further one, another "top secret" order; reading the third
line after saying, "The announcement does not represent an
empty threat," you say:

  "It is the duty of all troops and police in my command to
  adopt the severest measures. Every act of violence
  committed by Partisans must be punished immediately.
  Reports submitted must also give details of counter-
  measures taken. Wherever there is evidence of
  considerable numbers of Partisan groups a proportion of
  the male population of the area will be arrested, and in
  the event of an act of violence being committed these men
  will be shot."

Now, I want to take only two examples, Witness, of the way
that that was carried out. You remember when one of your
officers, Colonel von Gablenz, was captured by Partisans; do
you remember?

A. General von Gablenz?

Q. I think he was a colonel at this stage, it was 26th June,
just after your order. You remember Colonel von Gablenz
being captured, do you?

A. No.

Q. He was a colonel of the lines of communication; not a
very important officer, but still a colonel.

A. Yes, I remember.

Q. Now, just look at these two documents. Is this right? -
this is an extract from the daily situation report by the
Commander-in-Chief of South-west Italy for 26th June.

  "Partisan situation. North of Arezzo, Colonel von
  Gablenz, a member of the staff of the officer commanding
  lines of communication, area Tenth Army, was captured by
  bandits. The entire male population of the villages on
  the stretch of road concerned was taken into custody."

It was further announced that all these hostages would be
shot, if the captured colonel were not set free within 48
hours. Remember that?

A. Not in detail, but in general -

Q. No, no, but do you remember the incident?

A. Yes.

Q. Look at the next bit, which is the two-day situation
report, the report for two days later, 28th June, the second
paragraph:

  "As reprisal for the capture of Colonel Freiherr von
  Gablenz, so far 560 persons, including 250 men, have been
  taken into custody."

Is that your conception of what is meant by "steps necessary
to deal with Partisan warfare," that 410 women and children
should be taken into custody?

A. That was not necessary, but in connection with this I may
-

Q. Let us take one other example. You remember Civitella?
You remember what was done at Civitella by your forces, do
you not?

A. At the moment, no.

Q. Well, just let me remind you what was done at Civitella -
that was on 18th June, one day after your order:

                                                   [Page 55]

  
  "Two German soldiers were killed and a third wounded in a
  fight with Partisans in the village of Civitella. Fearing
  reprisals, the inhabitants evacuated the village, but
  when the Germans discovered this, punitive action was
  postponed. On 29th June" - that, you will remember,
  Witness, was nine days after your proclamation to
  reinforce your order - "when the local inhabitants were
  returned and were feeling secure once more, the Germans
  carried out a well-organised reprisal, combing the
  neighbourhood. Innocent inhabitants were often shot on
  sight. During that day, 212 men, women and children in
  the immediate district were killed. Some of the dead
  women were found completely naked. In the course of
  investigations, a nominal roll of the dead has been
  compiled and is complete with the exception of a few
  names whose bodies could not be identified. Ages of the
  dead ranged from one year to 84 years. Approximately one
  hundred houses were destroyed by fire. Some of the
  victims were burned alive in their homes."

That is the report of the United Nations War Crimes
Commission on the incident. Now, Witness, do you really
think that military necessity commands the killing of babies
of one and people of 84?

A. No.

Q. Well now, I just want to acquaint you with one subject
which you have dealt with yourself, that is the position of
the Hermann Goering Division. You mentioned one of the
persons I have in mind, but let me, in order to make it
clear to the Tribunal, just get clear who were your officers
at that time.

Did General Vietinghoff - I am sorry, I think it was von
Vietinghoff - did he command the 10th Army?

A. Yes.

Q. In 1944?

A. Yes.

Q. Was he directly under your orders?

A. Yes, he was under my command.

Q. Then I take it he is a fairly senior and responsible
General? -  I do not know his exact rank - full General or -

A. Full General.

Q. And under him was the 76th Corps, was it not, commanded
by General Herr; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And under General Herr was a Hermann Goering Division,
commanded by General Schmalz, whom you mentioned this
morning; is that right?

A. General von Schmalz commanded, but previously I mentioned
another name.

Q. I think it was Schmalz at this time. Now, the Hermann
Goering Division had been concerned in a number of these - I
call them incidents; what I mean by incidents is the sort of
thing which I have been describing at Civitella. Let me
remind you of one or two. Do you remember at Stia, on 13th
to 18th April, 137 civilians were killed, including 45 women
and children; do you remember that incident? Civitella, that
was on 29th June. And do you remember Buchini on 7th and 9th
July; do you remember an incident at Buchini?

A. It is possible, but I would have to study the details
first.

Q. Perhaps you will remember this; I will put it to you
generally, Witness, because it is a perfectly general course
of conduct, and there were a number of these incidents in
which the Hermann Goering Division was engaged. Do you
remember that?

A. There were many incidents like that on both sides, and I
would first have to study the exact details of the question.

                                                   [Page 56]

Q. Well, this is what I really want you to apply your mind
to. Is it correct that the Hermann Goering Division was only
under General Herr and General von Vietinghoff for tactical
purposes, and reported each day to Berlin to Reichsmarschall
Goering as to what they were doing?

A. The Hermann Goering Division was under the General
Command of the Army for tactical purposes, and I must assume
that subordination under the General Command of the Army
actually did exist. Whether there were any matters operating
outside that, I do not know.

Q. I will put the words exactly, and you can see where I
have got the words from the way I put them:

  "The First Airborne Divisions and the Hermann Goering
  Division, came under the Army Commanders only as regards
  tactics; for all other questions, on the other hand,
  directly under the Reichsmarschall, to whom they had to
  send daily reports. They were not permitted to receive
  orders from the Army Commanders concerning criminal
  proceedings, nor to report the results of such
  proceedings. Thus they carried on the war against
  guerrillas according to principles which to some extent
  deviated from those of the Army."

Is that a correct statement?

A. That conception is correct, but the point is, perhaps,
that the expression "tactics" can, of course, be understood
in a somewhat wider or narrower sense.

Q. The word what?

A. Tactics. That this tactical subordination can be
understood either in a wider or a narrower sense.

Q. Witness, that is why I read the whole thing to you,
because it is quite clear what the person's statement I am
reading means there, is it not? He says that they were not
permitted to receive orders from the Army Commanders on
criminal proceedings or to report the results, and that they
carried on the war against guerrillas according to
principles which deviated from those of General von
Vietinghoff, did they not?

A. This is the first time that I have heard of this, but if
another officer has said so then I must assume it is
correct.

Q. Well, are you sure it is the first time that you have
heard about it? It is very difficult to remember every
incident. Please do not think that I want to be offensive,
but I want you to try to remember. Did not General Herr make
numerous complaints to you about this anomalous position
with regard to the Hermann Goering Division, and did you
never give any official reply to General Herr's reports?

A. There were certainly not a number of reports from General
Herr. There may have been verbal consultations.

Q. In your command post?

A. Yes. May I add once more that such definitions of
attitude were in existence within the army group. With
regard to the case concerned, I must add that I do not know
whether this sector came under the heading "tactics" or
belonged to another function.

Q. Well, I am not really putting the point to you quite
clearly. What I am suggesting is this. If you disagree with
"numerous," will you accept "some," that one some occasions
General Herr reported to you that he was in difficulties
through this anomalous position of the Hermann Goering
Division?

A. That I can assume.

Q. Your Chief of Staff at this time was General Rottiger,
was he not?

A. Yes.

Q. From 10th June onwards? About this time did not General
Rottiger also talk to you about the position of the Hermann
Goering Division being under the special protection of
Reichsmarschall Goering in Berlin?

                                                   [Page 57]

A. Yes. We discussed that subject quite a lot.Q. Well, as
far as the particular incident, in which the Hermann Goering
Division was involved, is concerned, they took their orders
from the defendant Goering, who is sitting in the dock, did
they not, as to how they were treat the Partisans?

A. I could not tell you that. Those channels by-passed me.

Q. Yes. They by-passed you; they by-passed General Herr,
they by-passed Vietinghoff; they by-passed you, and went
straight to Berlin. That is right, is it not?

A. Yes certainly. That was the separate channel which
applied to the S.S. and to the Hermann Goring Division.

Q. Yes. You see, at the moment the Tribunal is dealing with
the case of the defendant Goering. That is why I ask you
these questions.

Now, just one or two short points. You remember Dr.
Laternser asking you one or two questions about the High
Command and the General Staff. Do you remember Dr. Laternser
asking you some questions?

A. Yes, I am aware of that.

Q. Well, I just wanted to clear one part out of the way
altogether. You must have realised, Witness, that the body
that is mentioned in this case has nothing to do with the
Staff Corps of the Germany Army. I think you made that clear
yourself yesterday.

A. With what did you say?

Q. With the Staff Corps. You had, both in the Army and the
Air Force, a corps of officers who had gone through the
Military Academy and were Staff officers of all ranks, I
suppose down to Captain, had you not?

A. The question is not quite clear to me.

Q. I am sorry. You had in both the Army and the Luftwaffe a
Staff Corps of officers who had been to the Military Academy
and became thereafter Staff officers. They had, I think, the
right of reporting directly to the Chief of Staff if they
wanted to? Is not that so? Is that right or wrong?

A. That is not correct, except, as I said yesterday, as far
as education was concerned. As far as the general attitude
was concerned, the General Chief of Staff had the right to
influence General Staff officers directly; but the other way
around, no.

Q. Well, that Corps went right down, I suppose, to Captain
or Lieutenant, did it not?

A. No, to Captain.

Q. I thought that was it. May I tell you, we are not
interested in that Corps at all. The prosecution are not
interested in that Corps at all.

Now, With regard to the persons who are named in the
Indictment: you know there are nine Commanders-in-Chief or
Staff positions named, and then the Oberbefehlshaber, who
commanded in certain areas or commanded certain fleets of
the Luftwaffe. You have looked at that, I suppose, have you?

A. Yes.

Q. I am trying to put it shortly, Witness, so that we will
not take too much time. I just want you to consider this.
Are not these people who are mentioned - that is, the heads
of the O.K.W., O.K.H., O.K.M., O.K.L. and their deputies and
the Oberbefehlshaber - the officers in the German Armed
Forces who would have had most to do with the policy and
planning of wars?

A. The Supreme Commanders of the branches of the Armed
Forces were, of course, the advisory organs of the Supreme
Head of the State in all military-political questions. The
Supreme Commanders of Army Groups had no influence whatever.

Q. Well, I should like you to take two examples. I think you
were present on both occasions. Before the attack on Poland
there was a meeting on 22nd August, which has been mentioned
here before. Did that consist of these

                                                   [Page 58]

higher officers that I mentioned, the heads of the various
branches, and also of the Oberbefehlshaber?

A. It consisted of the commanding officers of the war in
that military sector.

Q. Yes. Well, at that time the sector which was going to be
the subject of war was Poland. At that time the main purpose
was considering the Polish campaign, was it not? The main
purpose of that meeting, I suppose, was to consider the
Polish campaign with the possibility of a campaign against
the Western Powers if they came in?

A. About that I can give you no information. Generally
speaking, we only discussed Polish questions


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