The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-06/tgmwc-06-57.05

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-06-57.05
Last-Modified: 1997/10/25

BY DR. LATERNSER: (counsel for General Staff and High
Command): I have only a few more questions to ask the

Q. Witness, did you not know when you took over your office
as Quartermaster-General, that the preparations which Major-
General Marx had already

                                                  [Page 265]
begun, and which you then continued, were intended only for
a possible contingency?

A. One could think so, of course, but very soon in the
course of the work, things appeared which made it seem very
probable that these theoretical preparations were to be put
to practical use. In connection with the formulation of this
plan of operations for an attack in which, from the very
beginning, we were thinking in terms of using Roumainian
territory -- during that very time we saw the dispatch of
the first military mission, with training groups and an
entire Panzer division, just into that area for which the
theoretical preparations for an attack were being made.
Thus, gradually, the impression grew that this was a plan
which eventually would be executed.

Q. The reason for my question is this: I believe the date
which you gave as the inception of the plan, the autumn of
1940, is a little early, is it not?

A. The documents which I was given for that plan of offense
I explained in detail yesterday. They were submitted on 3
September, for upon the basis of these documents everything
was developed, and everything was actually executed like
that later.

Q. I mean this: that first this plan was considered or
conceived for an certain contingency, and then at a later
date, after a decision had been taken, it was used.

A. In retrospect, they fit together in perfect sequence,
first the theoretical preparation, and then the practical
preparation and execution.

Q. Do you know Directive No. 18 of 12th November, 1940,
issued by the former Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht?

A. I cannot remember it.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I refer now to a document
which has already been submitted by the American
prosecution, Document 444-PS. (Handing the document to the witness)

Q. I submit it to you, Witness. Page 8 is the one to I am
referring to.

A. I cannot remember that I have ever seen this.

Q. Witness, will you please repeat that answer once more?

A. I cannot remember ever having known anything about this

DR. LATERNSER: To inform the Court I am going to quote the
passage -- it is very short -- which I have just shown to
the witness. It is Page 8 of Document 444-PS, this
paragraph. I quote:

     "(5) Russia: Political conferences with the aim of
     clarifying the attitude of Russia for the near future
     have been started."
Q. Witness, after you have seen that passage you will have
to admit that I am right in saying that the time at which
the decision was taken to attack the Soviet Union must have
been later than the time you told us yesterday.

A. I can only say from my personal experience and my own
opinion as I look back now, following the entire
development, that there was a clear line from the beginning:
the conception of that plan as I found it on 3rd September,
1940, then the directive of December, 1940, and then its
execution. Just at which precise date the decision was taken
I do not know.

Q. Did you know that in 1939 the Soviet Union marched into
Poland with, in the opinion of German military experts,
very strong forces which were out of proportion -- according
to the opinions of these experts -- to the problem to be
solved at that time?

A. I only know of the fact that Soviet forces marched into
Poland, but I have never heard anything about the size of
the forces, nor have I ever heard anyone express surprise at
the strength of the forces that took part in the invasion.

Q. Do you know that before the German deployment on the
Eastern border much stronger Soviet forces had been aligned
along that border, especially very strong armoured forces in
the area of Bialystok?

A. No, I ever knew that.
                                                  [Page 266]
Q. Were not the first divisions transferred from West to
East, only after very strong Soviet forces were already in
position along the Eastern border?

A. About the relationship of troop movements from West to
East, and the practical execution of the plan, I know
nothing, because I had nothing to do it. First of all, in
the months of April and May, because of other duties, I was
present in the High Command of the Army for only a very
short time.

Q. Witness, you said yesterday that at the end of March,
1940, there was a conference at the Reich Chancellery, and
there General Halder gave you several points as reasons for
the intended attack on Yugoslavia. You mentioned firstly the
elimination of danger to the flank; secondly, the taking
possession of the rail line to Nish, and you stressed the
point that in case of an attack against Russia, the right
flank would be free to move. Were there not different
reasons for this attack? Were not there reasons which were
more important than the ones you mentioned?

A. I do not know of any others.

Q. As to this attack upon Yugoslavia, was not that also to
be done to relieve the Italians?

A. Yes, of course. That was the initial reason why an
operation against Greece was considered, and why that menace
to the flank had to be eliminated if we were to push forward
into Greece from Bulgaria.

Q. Was not there at that time some concern about co-
operation between Yugoslavia and Greece, which would have
enabled England to land forces on the Greek coast and
thereby gain a road to the Roumainian oil fields?

A. Yes, but it would also have been impossible to carry out
the Plan "Barbarossa." We would have been menaced on our
right flank and unprotected.

Q. I have received different information. In the decision to
attack Yugoslavia the Plan "Barbarossa" did not play the
important role which you said it did.

A. The Plan "Barbarossa" could not have been carried out if
Greece and Serbia, strengthened by British landings, had
fallen into the hands of the enemy.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we can adjourn.

                    (A recess was taken.)

Q. Witness, you were just speaking of the attack on
Yugoslavia. If I understood you correctly, you said that
this attack had to be carried out before the Plan Barbarossa
could be undertaken, as otherwise there would have been a
serious threat to the flanks. Did I understand you

A. Yes.

Q. You said yesterday that the overthrow of the government
in Yugoslavia was the reason for Hitler's attack on that
country. Do you know whether any plans for such an attack
existed, even before the revolution in Yugoslavia?

A. That is not known to me.

Q. Do you happen to know that the attack against Yugoslavia
had to be made at a very inconvenient time, and that it
caused a delay of the attack against the Soviet Union?

A. That is exactly what I said yesterday. It caused a
postponement of the attack on Russia, which had originally
been planned for the middle of May, weather permitting.

Q. But then there is a sort of contradiction here, if you
say that the attack against Yugoslavia took place at that
time although it was inconvenient, as the attack against
Russia was to be made.

A. I do not see any contradiction in that. As I saw the
situation, the Yugoslavian Government had made an agreement
with us, which placed the railway line from Belgrade to Nish
at our disposal. After that agreement was concluded, a
revolution took place in Yugoslavia which created a change
in her policy.

                                                  [Page 267]
Therefore, the plan to attack Yugoslavia was believed
necessary to eliminate a danger. In other words, I do not
see that the decision to attack Yugoslavia and the fact that
"Barbarossa" was delayed are contradictory. I merely see
that one is a prerequisite for the execution of the other.

Q. Witness, were you present at a conference of the General
Staff at the Obersalzberg on 3rd February, 1941?

A. Yes.

Q. Are you aware of the fact that at that time the strength
of the Soviet Russian troops was estimated at 100 infantry
divisions, 25 cavalry divisions, and 30 mechanized
divisions, and that that strength was reported by General

A. I cannot recollect that at all. Nor am I sure whether
General Halder was actually present during that conference.

Q. But, witness, such a conference must have been an unusual

A. Yes.

Q. And I believe that that conference must at least have
given the impression that there was a very strong
concentration of troops on the Eastern Front.

A. I myself have no recollection of any such impression.

Q. At the beginning of that attack against the Soviet Union,
were you still Quartermaster-General?

A. Yes.

Q. As far as I have been able to ascertain in the meantime,
it is part of the duties of that service department to make
positive suggestions regarding military operations, is that

A. That was once the case when there was a different
allocation of duties. At the time when I was Deputy Chief of
the General Staff I was not assigned that duty as part of my
job. The operational department was not under my control,
but immediately under the control of the Chief of the
General Staff. The General Staff Department, first of all,
gave me the task of running the training department and then
the organisation department, and that was in autumn 1941.
Therefore, it was not part of my sphere of activities to
make suggestions to the Chief of the General Staff regarding
operations which were in progress, or any other operations.
I merely had to carry out the duties allotted to me.

Q. Witness, can you give information on the subject of how
German prisoners of war were treated in the Soviet Union?

A. That question, about which such an incredible amount of
propaganda has been made, which led to the suicide of so
many German officers and other ranks at Stalingrad, I feel
myself bound ---

THE PRESIDENT: One moment. Cross-examination is questioning
on questions which are either relevant to the issues which
the Tribunal has to try, or questions relevant to the
credibility of the witness. Questions which relate to the
treatment of prisoners in the Soviet Union have got nothing
whatever to do with any of the issues which we have to try,
and they are not relevant to the credibility of the witness.
The Tribunal, therefore, will not hear them.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, may I give a reason why I ask
that question? May I make a short statement?


DR. LATERNSER: I should like to put that question for the
reason that I could ascertain how prisoners of war were, in
fact, treated, so that a large number of German families,
who are extremely worried on that subject, could thus be
given information about it, so that their worries would be

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal is of opinion that that is not a
matter with which the Tribunal is concerned.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions to ask the witness.

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