The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/6

Q. The preparations of the Luftwaffe for this invasion were
complete, and the invasion was only called off because the
supply of sea-going craft was not sufficient, is that not
true?

A. Yes. I have to supplement the previous statement by
saying that, of course, a certain interval between the
French campaign and the English campaign would have had to
elapse in order to effect the material replenishment of the
Air Force.

Q. Now, you also told the Strategic Bombing Survey that
Hitler had ordered not only the bombing of military targets,
including industrial production, but also the bombing of
political targets. Is that true?

A. After a certain date, yes.

Q. That is, to paralyse the government of the enemy. That is
what you meant by a political target, did you not?

A. That is not what I mean by political targets, but I
answered the question differently. I understood it
differently, namely, that this order became effective at a
later date.

Q. You attended the speech made by Hitler in August of 1939?

A. Yes.

Q. At that time you were informed that the attack on Poland
would begin immediately or very soon?

A. During that conference, the final decision to begin the
Polish campaign had not yet been reached. Negotiations were
still in progress and we were all still hoping that they
would bring favourable results.

Q. You were ordered on 15th August to get the Luftwaffe in
readiness for an attack on Poland?
                                                   [Page 46]

A. This order, as such, is not known to me in detail, but I
must admit that, for months before, we had made air
preparations and bases, in a general defensive direction,
always thinking of a defensive situation.

Q. You expected Poland to attack Germany in the air? Is that
your point?

A. At any rate, we took this possibility into consideration
on our side. The whole political situation was too obscure
for us to form a pertinent; incontestable judgement about
it.

Q. You have said, have you not, in substance, that you never
held conferences with Party leaders or talked politics or
had any contacts with politicians?

A. Yes.

Q. Was not your immediate superior the No. 2 politician of
Germany? Did you not know that?

A. I did, but I must emphasise that the conversations which
I had with the Reichsmarschall were 99 per cent. concerned
with military and organisational problems.

Q. But you knew that he, at all times, was one of the
leading men in Nazi politics?

A. Certainly.

Q. You testified that you knew of the order to shoot Soviet
Commissars?

A. Certainly.

Q. And that you did not approve it and did not carry it out.

A. I did not answer to that effect yesterday.

Q. What did you answer?

A. I answered as follows: That the Air Force, which was not
fighting on the ground, was not concerned with this problem,
and that an official notification of that order is no longer
in my recollection.

Q. Who executed that order? Who was expected to execute it?

A. I was only in Russia until November, 1941, and I can give
you no information on it.

Q. Did you ever hear of the S.S.?

A. Yes, of course.

A. And is it not a fact that the execution of that order was
committed to the S.S.?

A. I knew nothing about that.

Q. For what purpose, did you think, did the S.S. exist?

A. In my opinion, the S.S., as far as it was used in
military operations, was a special section of the Army,
indeed, a sort of guard of the Army.

Q. The S.S. was to guard the Army or to guard whom?

A. No - I mean that the S.S. divisions were, purely from the
point of view of number and material, well above the average
as far as equipment or normal Army divisions were concerned.

Q. Who was commanding the S.S.?

A. The S.S. was commanded by Himmler. As far as these
divisions were used within the Army, they were tactically
under the Army Commanders, Commanders of the Army Groups, or
the Corps Headquarters staffs to which they were attached.

Q. So far as they had special missions, they were under the
command of Himmler, is that right?

A. Yes, certainly: a very clear distinction.

Q. You testified yesterday that you did not consider
Hitler's Commando order binding on you, and that you did not
carry out that order, is that right?

A. In the Mediterranean theatre, yes.

Q. Was that because the order left discretion in your hands,
or because you just took discretion into your hands?

A. I made those reservations myself, firstly for ideological
considerations, and secondly, because in the Mediterranean I
had, as I said yesterday, a

                                                   [Page 47]
twofold command, and the German orders could not be included
in the general administration without modification.Q. Well
then, the extent to which an order of that kind was carried
out depended somewhat on the character and courage of the
officer who received it, did it not?

A. I would like to express it somewhat differently. These
orders - that Commando order, for instance - could be
interpreted in different ways-in so far as it was certainly
quite possible for the Supreme Commander to consider an
operation to be a special task, or a tactical measure which
was militarily justified by the military situation.

Q. You were in command of the forces in Italy at this time,
were you not, at the time of the Commando order?

A. With limitations. I was not in full command until
September, 1943.

Q. I will ask for you to be shown Document 498-PS, in
evidence as Exhibit 501.

I call your attention to paragraph No. 6 of that order which
reads as follows:

  "I will hold responsible, under military law, for failing
  to carry out this order, all commanders and officers who
  either have neglected their duty of instructing the
  troops about this order, or acted against this order
  where it was to be executed."

You see that paragraph in the order?

A. Yes, I have just read it.

Q. Now, did you ever report that you were not carrying out
this order or did you deceive your superior officers as to
whether it was being carried out?

A. In one special case that question was treated very
decisively at headquarters. This concerned the Commando
action "Pescara," where Adolf Hitler ordered the shooting of
certain people in spite of the fact that we, my troops and
I, wanted to spare them. I think, in particular, that the
influence of Jodl as an intermediary was decisive, namely,
that this subject was forgotten and that consequently these
people were kept alive, both in hospitals and prisoner-of-
war camps.

But I should not like to call it deception, the word you
used just now, for I wish to emphasise that, in my military
sector, I considered orders of this kind as, so to speak,
guiding orders, and this Commando order certainly allowed
for several interpretations.

Q. In other words, the extent to which one of these orders
would be carried out depended on the commanders in charge.
Hitler could not depend on it that an order as emphatic as
this would be carried out by his commanders? Was that the
state of the German Army?

A. No, but the situation can be explained as follows: If
such an operation is reported to a superior as a Commando
operation in the sense of that order, then the necessary
measures would have to be carried out. It depended, however,
on the way the operation was reported by the units
concerned, and I explained in detail yesterday that a
unified conception had gradually set in that men in uniform
who carried out a tactical move were not Commandos within
the sense of this order.

Q. You testified to-day, and another witness has testified
here, that if an order of Adolf Hitler were resisted, it
meant death. You are also testifying that an absolute order
to execute Commandos, under threat of punishment if you
failed, left you discretion to do it or not, and I want you
once and for all to tell the Tribunal which is the fact, and
then we will leave that subject.

A. I must repeat what I said before, namely, that the
Italian theatre of war was not to b compared with the other
theatres of war. Through the co-operation of Hitler and
Mussolini there was always considerable give and take,

                                                   [Page 48]

and, therefore, these orders made by O.K.W. did not
necessarily always apply to the Italian theatre of war.

Q. They were applied everywhere, so far as you know, except
in the Italian theatre, then?

A. That I cannot say. I have repeatedly had occasion to say
that I was confining myself exclusively to my own sphere of
operation, which was considerable.

Q. You testified, as I understand you, that you punished
looting on the part of your soldiers in Italy.

A. As soon as I heard of any instances, I punished them, and
I most strictly ordered the Army Commanders and Air Force
Commanders to do the same.

Q. Now, the punishment inflicted for any looting was always
very mild, was it not?

A. No, on the contrary. I even went so far as to have
culprits shot on the spot, and in that manner I succeeded in
remedying the disorder which had arisen.

Q. So a German general, dealing with a German soldier,
considers shooting the proper penalty for looting?

A. Such an extreme conclusion is not justified. On that
subject I wish to make the following remarks: If an Army -
as was the case with the 14th Army at the time - fell into a
certain disorder, the most severe measures were justified in
the interest of that Army's reputation and in the interest
of the population, in order to bring about orderly
conditions. I had heated discussions at headquarters on that
particular subject.

Apart from that, I was of the opinion that all penalties
eventually become useless, and therefore, for some time I
considered penalties purely as an educational means and not
really as punishment. Consequently, for some time penalties
were rather mild.

Q. You testified that you took vigorous steps to protect the
art treasures of Italy.

A. In so far as I was informed of art treasures, yes.

Q. What steps did you take, and against whom did you take
them?

A. Primarily they were preventive measures: first, by
excluding places of art and culture from the military field;
second, by having these places cleared if they were open to
air raids by the enemy; and third, by co-operating with
General Wolff and having these cultural and art treasures
removed to secure places. I am referring to the art
treasures of Cassino and Florence.

Q. Did you know that any treasures were removed from Mount
Cassino, for instance, and taken to Berlin?

A. Much later, at Mondorf, I heard about that. At the time
all I could recollect was that they were handed over to the
Vatican in Rome.

Q. Did you know that art treasures were taken and delivered
to Goering from Mount Cassino? Did you ever hear that?

A. I once heard something about some statue of a saint, but
I cannot really give you any more details.

Q. And if Goering received such a thing from Mount Cassino,
was it a violation of your orders?

A. The division "Hermann Goering" was stationed in that
sector. It was commanded by the former adjutant of Hermann
Goering, and it is clear that there was a certain connection
here, but to what extent I cannot tell you.

Q. I have a few more questions concerning your
interrogations.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better break off for 10
minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think, your Honours, that we will
save some duplication - perhaps save time-if I now yield to
Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, who is

                                                   [Page 49]

prepared on some of the subjects I was about to take up. I
think he is in a better position to take up the examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Whatever you think, Mr. Justice Jackson.

BY SIR DAVID MAXWELL ME:

Q. Witness, you have been told why Dr. Stahmer wanted you to
give evidence? Have you been told by Dr. Stahmer what
evidence to give?

A. The individual points were communicated to me, without
all questions being directly defined.

Q. I want to read you one sentence, so that you will have it
in mind, of Dr. Stahmer's statement: When Rotterdam became a
battle-zone in May, 1940, it became a military necessity to
employ bombers, as the encircled fighting parachute troops
who had no support from the artillery had urgently asked for
help from bombers.

Do you remember the incident? I wanted you to have it in
your mind.

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. Do you remember being asked about this incident in the
interrogation on 28th June, by the United States Bombing
Survey? Do you remember?

A. Certainly.

Q. In answer to the question "What about Rotterdam?" did you
say, "First, Rotterdam had been defended in the parts which
were later on attacked. Secondly, in this case one could
notice that a firm attitude had to be taken. This one attack
brought immediate peace to Holland. It was asked for by
Model and was approved by the O.K.W. It was a very small
part in the heart of Rotterdam."

Do you remember saying that?

A. Approximately I did say that, yes, and I repeated those
words yesterday.

Q. I want to deal first with the strategic aspects. I will
come to the tactical aspects later. Your strategic purpose
and real object was to take a firm attitude and secure
immediate peace, is not that correct?

A. That far-reaching task had not been given to me, but, as
I said yesterday, the meaning of General Wenninger's report
to me of the attack was that it resulted in the total
surrender of Holland.

Q. But I want you to think of your own words - "This was
approved by the O.K.W.; a firm attitude had to be taken."
Was not your purpose, in this attack, to secure a strategic
advantage by terrorisation of the people of Rotterdam?

A. That I can deny with the clearest conscience. Neither did
I say, when I was at Mondorf, that I had to adopt a firm
attitude. I merely said that the support which was demanded
by Student would have to be carried out. We had only the one
task, and that was to furnish artillery support for
Student's troops.


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