The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/13

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Q. Witness, do you remember telling me last night that the
only prisoners of war handed over to the police were those
guilty of crimes or misdemeanours?

A. I did not express myself that way. I said if the police
apprehended prisoners of war they were those who committed a
crime during the escape, and as far as I know those who were
detained by the police were not returned to the camp. To
what extent the police kept prisoners of war, without
returning them to a camp, I was able to gather from
interrogations and explanations here.

Q. Would you look at Document D-569? Would you look first at
the top left-hand corner, which shows that it is a document
published by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht?

A. The document which I have before me has the following at
the top left-hand corner: The Reichsfuehrer S.S. and the
Inspector of Concentration Camps ...

Q. It is a document dated 22nd November, 1941. Have you got

A. Yes, I have it now.

Q. Now, look at the left-hand bottom corner, as to
distribution. The second person to whom it is distributed is
the Air Ministry and Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force on
22nd November, 1941. That would be you.

A. That is correct. I would like to make the following
statement in connection with this ...

Q. Just for a moment I would like you to study the document
and then make your statement upon it. I shall not stop you.
I want you to look at the third sentence in paragraph one.
This deals with Soviet prisoners of war, you understand. The
third sentence says: "If escaped Soviet prisoners of war are
returned to the camp in accordance with this order, they
have to be handed over to the nearest service station of the
Secret State Police."

"In any case" - and then paragraph 2 deals with the special
position - "if they commit crimes, owing to the fact that at
present these misdemeanours on the part of Soviet prisoners
of war are particularly frequent, due most likely to living
conditions still being somewhat unsettled, the following
temporary regulations come into force. They may be amended
later. If a Soviet prisoner of war commits any other
punishable offence, then the commandant of the camp must
hand the guilty man over to the head of the Security

Do I understand this document to say that a man who escapes
will be handed over to the Security Police? You understand
this document says a man who escapes will be handed over to
the Secret Police, a man who commits a crime, as you
mentioned, will be handed over to the Security Police. Were
not those the conditions that obtained from 1941 up to the
date we are dealing with in March, 1944?

A. I would like to read the few preceding paragraphs so that
no sentences will be torn from their context.


My Lord, while the witness is reading the document, might I
go over the technical matter of the arrangement of exhibits?
When I cross-examined Field-Marshal Kesselring I put in
three documents, UK-66, which becomes Exhibit

                                                  [Page 290]

GB 274; D-39, which becomes GB 275; and TC-91, which becomes
GB 276; so this document will become GB 277.

Q. Have you had an opportunity of reading it, Witness?

A. Yes, I have.

Q. Then I am right, am I not, in saying that the Soviet
prisoners of war who escaped were to be, after their return
to the camp, handed over to the Secret State Police? If they
committed a crime they were to be handed over to the
Security Police, is not that right?

A. Not exactly correct. I would like to point to the third
sentence in the first paragraph. There it says, "If a
prisoner-of-war camp is in the vicinity then the man who is
recaptured is to be transported there."

Q. But read the next sentence, "If a Soviet prisoner of war
is returned to the camp" - that is in accordance with this
order which you have just read - "he has to be handed over
to the nearest service station of the Secret State Police."
Your own sentence.

A. Yes, but the second paragraph which follows gives an
explanation of frequent criminal acts of Soviet prisoners of
war, etc., committed at that time. You read that yourself,
that is also related to this paragraph, No. 1, but this was
a separate order and it was distributed to the Army, the Air
Force and the Navy. I would like to give the explanation as
to its distribution. In this war there were not only
hundreds but thousands of current orders which were issued
by superiors to subordinate officers and were transmitted to
various departments. That does not mean that each of these
thousands of orders was submitted to the Commander-in-Chief;
only the most decisive and most important were shown to him.
The others went from department to department. Thus it is
that this order from the Chief of the High Command was
signed by a subordinate department and not by the Chief of
the High Command himself.

Q. This order would be dealt with by your Prisoner-of-War
Department in your Ministry, would it not?

A. This department, according to the procedure adopted for
these orders, received the order, but no other department
received it.

Q. I think the answer to my question must be "Yes." It would
be dealt with by the Prisoner-of-War Department - your
Ministry. Is not that so?

A. I would say yes.

Q. It is quicker, you see, if you say "Yes" in the
beginning; do you understand?

A. No; it depends upon whether I personally have read the
order or not, and I will then decide about my

Q. Well now, the escape ...

THE PRESIDENT: You were not asked about responsibility; you
were asked whether it would be dealt with by your Prisoner-
of-War Department.


Q. Now, the escape about which I am asking you took place on
the night of 24th to 25th March. I want you to have that
date in mind. The decision to murder these young officers
must have been taken very quickly, because the first murder
which actually took place was on 26th March. Do you agree
with that? It must have been taken quickly?

A. I assume that this order, as I was informed later, was
given immediately, but it had no connection with this

Q. No, no; we are finished with that document; we are going
into the murder of these young men. The Grossfahndung - a
general hue and cry, I think, would be the British
translation - was also issued at once in order that these
men should be arrested; is not that so?

A. That is correct. Whenever there was an escape and such a
large number of prisoners escaped, automatically in the
whole Reich a hue and cry was raised, that is, all offices
had to be on the lookout to recapture the prisoners.

                                                  [Page 291]

Q. So that in order to give this order to murder these men,
and for the Grossfahndung, there must have been a meeting of
Hitler, at any rate with Himmler or Kaltenbrunner, in order
that that order would be put into effect; is not that so?

A. That is correct. According to what I heard, Himmler was
the first to report this escape to the Fuehrer.

Q. Now, General Westhoff, who was in defendant Keitel's
Kriegsgefangenenwesen, in his prisoner-of-war organisation,
says this, "On a date, which I think was 26th March, Keitel
said to him, 'This morning Goering reproached me in the
presence of Himmler for having let some more prisoners of
war escape. It was unheard of.'" Do you say that General
Westhoff is wrong?

A. Yes. This is not in accordance with the fact. General
Westhoff is referring to a statement of General Field-
Marshal Keitel. This utterance in itself is illogical, for I
could not accuse Keitel because he did not draw my attention
to it. The guarding was his responsibility and not mine.

Q. One of the defendant Keitel's officers dealing with this
matter was a general inspector, General Rottich. I do not
know if you know him.

A. No.

Q. Well, General Westhoff, as one could understand, is very
anxious to assure everyone that his senior officer had
nothing to do with it, and he goes on to say this about
General Rottich:

  "He was completely excluded from it by the fact that
  these matters were taken out of his hands. Apparently at
  that conference with the Fuehrer in the morning, that is
  to say, the conference between Himmler, Field-Marshal
  Keitel, and Goering, which took place in the Fuehrer's
  presence, the Fuehrer himself always took a hand in these
  affairs when officers escaped."

You say that is wrong? You were at no such conference?

A. I was not present at this conference, neither was General
Westhoff; he is giving a purely subjective view, not a
factual report.

Q. So that we find that - you think - Westhoff is wrong? You
see, Westhoff - he was a Colonel at this time, I think, and
now a Major-General Westhoff asks that the senior officers
be questioned about it, and he says this: "It should be
possible to find out whether Himmler made the suggestion to
the Fuehrer or to find that out from Goering, who was
present at the conference." Again and again Westhoff, who
after all is a comparatively junior officer, is saying that
the truth about this matter can be discovered from his
seniors. You say that it cannot?

A. I would not say that; I would just like to say that
General Westhoff was never present for even a moment,
therefore he cannot say "I know" or "I saw that
Reichsmarshal Goering was present." He is assuming this, or
he may have heard it.

Q. What he says is, you know, that Keitel blamed him, as I
have read to you; that Keitel went on to say to him at
General von Gravenitz's, "Gentlemen, the escapes must stop.
We must set an example. We shall take very severe measures.
I am only telling you that, that men who have escaped will
be shot; probably the majority of them are dead already."
You never heard anything of that?

A. I was neither present at the conversation - Keitel-
Westhoff-Gravenitz - nor at the conversation - Fuehrer-
Himmler. As far as I know General Westhoff will be
testifying here. Moreover, General Field-Marshal Keitel will
be able to say whether I was there or not.

Q. Well then, I am bound to put this to you. I come on to
your own Ministry. I suppose in general you take
responsibility for the actions of the

                                                  [Page 292]

officers of your Ministry from the rank of field officer and
above? - colonels and major-generals and lieutenant-

A. If they acted according to my directives and my
instructions, yes; if they acted against my directives and
instructions, no.

Q. Well now, just let us see what happened in your own
Ministry. Do you know that Colonel Walde made a personal
investigation of this matter at the camp? Did you know that?

A. The particulars about this investigation, as I explained
yesterday, are unknown to me; I know only that
investigations did take place.

Q. Now, on 27th March, that was a Monday, did you know that
there was a meeting in Berlin about this matter? Just let me
tell you who were there before you apply your mind to it, so
that you will know; Your Ministry was represented by Colonel
Walde, because Lieutenant-General Grosch had another
meeting, so he ordered his deputy to attend; the defendant
Keitel's organisation was represented by Colonel von
Reurmont; the Gestapo was represented by Gruppenfuehrer
Muller; the Kripo was represented by Gruppenfuehrer Nebe.
Now, all these officers were of course not on the policy
level, but they were high executive officers who had to deal
with the actual facts that were carried out, were they not?

A. They were not executive officers, in so far as it had not
been definitely established that executive powers are within
an officer's province. To the first question, whether I knew
about this meeting, I would say no. Colonel Walde I do not
even know personally.

Q. You mean to say, you are telling the Tribunal, that you
were never told about this meeting at any time?

A. Yes, I am saying that.

Q. I just want you to look at - let him have Walde's
statement - I want you to look at the statement of one of
the officers of your own Ministry on this. point. This is a
statement made by Oberst Ernst Walde, and - I am sorry I
have not another German copy, but I will get one in due
course-and in my copy, witness, it is at the foot of Page 2,
the beginning of the paragraph which I want you to look at
is as follows:

  "As recaptured prisoners were not to be taken back to
  their camp, according to an order issued several weeks
  previously" - can you find it?

A. Where can I find that?

Q. Well, in the English version it is at the middle of the
second page, and I want to ask you about the middle of that
paragraph. I do not know if you see a name - it stands out
in my copy - Major Dr. Huehnemorder; do you see that?

A. Yes, I have found it.

Q. Well, it is the sentence after the name Major Dr.
Huehnemorder appears "On this
Monday"-have you got that?

A. Yes.

Q. Thank you.

  "On this Monday a conference took place at the Security
  Headquarters (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) at Berlin,
  Albrechtsstrasse. As far as I remember this conference
  had been called by the Director of Prisoners of War,
  O.K.W., Kriegsgefangenenwesen, and I attended as
  representative of 'Luftwaffe Inspektion 17,' since
  General Grosch was unable to attend in person, for
  reasons which I cannot remember; the Director of
  Prisoners of War, as far as I know, was represented by
  Oberst von Reurmont, while, the Security Office was
  represented by Gruppenfuehrer Muller and Gruppenfuehrer
  Nebe, the Chief of the Kriminalpolizei at that time. I
  find it impossible to give a verbatim account of the
  conversation or to state what
                                                  [Page 293]
  was said by every single person. But I remember this
  much: that we were informed about a conference which had
  taken place on the previous day, that is Sunday, at the
  Fuehrer's Headquarters in connection with the mass escape
  from Sagan, in the course of which heated discussions had
  taken place between the participants. In this connection
  the names of Himmler, Goering and Keitel were mentioned.
  Whether Ribbentrop's name was also mentioned I do not
  remember. The Fuehrer was not mentioned. At this
  conference appropriate measures were said to have been
  discussed, or taken, to check any such mass escapes in
  future. The nature of these measures was not disclosed.
  Later and more or less in conclusion Gruppenfuehrer
  Muller declared that requisite orders had already been
  given and put into effect the previous morning. Regarding
  the search for escaped prisoners (Grossfahndung) he could
  or would not make any statement; he merely declared that
  according to reports so far received, shootings had taken
  place at some points for attempted escapes. I think he
  said that the number was ten or fifteen.
  After these remarks by Gruppenfuehrer Muller, which
  unmistakably caused a shattering effect, it became clear
  to me that a decision had been made by the highest
  authority, and that therefore any intervention by
  subordinate departments was impossible and pointless."

Now, this was announced at a meeting of persons that I would
call executives, that the shooting had already begun. Are
you telling this Tribunal that this matter was made clear to
these executives, including one of your own officers, and
was never told to you? Are you still saying that?

A. I am still saying that. Firstly, that I have never heard
anything about this conference. Secondly, that the officer
in question is only surmising when he mentions the names.
And thirdly, I would like to ask you also to mention the
beginning of this statement, which is as follows:

  "In this matter of the mass escape of British officers
  from prisoner-of-war camp No. 3, at Sagan on 24th or 25th
  March, 1944, I make the following statement:
  'I have to point out that in view of the absence of any
  documents, I am forced to reconstruct entirely from
  memory events which happened almost a year and nine
  months ago. I therefore ask that this fact and the
  possibility thus arising of my making a mistake be taken
  into consideration, and that due allowances be made.'"

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