The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-09/tgmwc-09-79.01


Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-09/tgmwc-09-79.01
Last-Modified: 1999/12/6

                                                    [Page 1]

 VERBATIM PROCEEDINGS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL
SITTING AT NUREMBERG, GERMANY

SEVENTY-NINTH DAY

TUESDAY, 12TH MARCH, 1946

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, have you concluded your
interrogation?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the French prosecution wish to ask any
questions? Dr. Stahmer, do you wish to examine further?

DR. STAHMER: No, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can retire.

(Whereupon the witness left the witness box.)

DR. STAHMER: I call the next witness. Colonel of the Air
Force, Bernd von Brauchitsch.

The witness COLONEL BERND VON BRAUCHITSCH took the stand and
testified as follows.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat the oath after me. I swear by
God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure
truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

You may sit down if you wish.

BY DR. STAHMER:

Q. What is your name?

A. Bernd von Brauchitsch.

Q. Witness, what position did you hold on the staff of the
Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force?

A. I was the first Military Adjutant of the Commander-in-
Chief of the Air Force. I held the rank of Chief Adjutant. I
had the job of making the daily arrangements as ordered by
the Commander-in-Chief and working out the adjutant duty
roster. The military position had to be reported daily,
military reports and messages only in so far as they were
not communicated by the offices themselves. I had no command
function.

Q. In this activity did you know that on 25th March, 1944,
from the prison camp of Sagan, Stalag Luft III, 75 English
Air Force officers had escaped?

A. I knew of this event, as at that time it was reported
that a number of Air Force officers had escaped.

Q. Can you give us some information about the fate of these
officers after their escape?

A. The fate of these officers is not known to me.

Q. Were you never informed that 50 of these officers
allegedly were shot while trying to escape?

A. I heard only much later that a number of these officers
were said to have been shot.

Q. Can you tell us under what circumstances these shootings
were carried out?

A. No, I do not know anything about that.

Q. Did Reichsmarschall Goering order the shooting, or did he
have any part in these measures?

A. I do not know anything of the Reichsmarschall having
taken part or given an order in this matter.

Q. Do you know of the attitude of Hitler with regard to the
treatment of so-called terror fliers who were shot down?

                                                    [Page 2]

A. In the spring of 1944 the, number of civilian air-raid
casualties by machine gunning increased suddenly. These
attacks were directed against civilians working in the
fields, against secondary railroads and stations of no
military importance, against pedestrians and cyclists, all
within the homeland. This must have been the reason for
Hitler giving not only defence orders but also ordering
measures against the fliers themselves. As far as I know,
Hitler favoured drastic measures. Lynching was to be
countenanced.

Q. What was the attitude of the Reichsmarschall of the Air
Force to this order?

A. The Commander-in-Chief and the Chief of the General Staff
expressed their opinion that a most serious view must be
taken of these attacks directed solely against civilians.
Notwithstanding, no special measure should be taken against
these officers - the suggestion to lynch and not afford
protection to those who baled out could not be agreed with.
In view of the Hitler instructions, the Luftwaffe was forced
to deal with these questions. They endeavoured to prevent
these ideas of Hitler, of which they disapproved, from being
put into practice. A way had to be found and the solution
was to pretend that measures would be taken which, however,
were not actually carried out.

Then I was given the task, which was outside my duties, of
conferring with the O.K.W. about the definition of the term
terror fliers. All those cases which constituted violations
of International Law and criminal acts were the subject of
subsequent discussions and correspondence. These definitions
were mean to prevent lynching. The lengthy correspondence
also shows the attempts of the various offices to put the
matter off. At the end of June, 1944, the term terror fliers
was defined. The Stalag was instructed to report all cases
of violation but not to take any action. Thus we avoided
giving the orders that Hitler had willed.

Q. In your opinion, therefore, could we say that the
measures directed by Hitler were not carried out by the Air
Force?

A. Yes. It can be said that the measures directed by Hitler
were not carried out. As confirmed by the commanders of the
air fleets, their men did not receive any orders to shoot
enemy fliers or to turn them over to the S.D.

Q. Do you know anything about the Air Force receiving
directives to take hostages or to shoot them?

A. I do not know of any directive or order dealing with
hostages.

Q. Now one more question: Can you give us any information
about the treatment of the five enemy airmen who, in March,
1945, jumped into the Schorfheide and were captured?

A. In March, 1945, an American 4-engined bomber was shot
down after an attack over the Schorfheide. Part of the crew
saved themselves by jumping Some of them were injured and
sent to a hospital. The observer, an American captain who,
in civil life was a film director in Hollywood, was the
following day interrogated by the Reichsmarschall himself
about his mission and his jump.

DR. STAHMER: I have no more questions for this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any other defendants' counsel wish to ask
the witness any questions?

BY DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the
O.K.W.):

Q. I have only a few questions for- this witness. What post
did you hold when the war started?

A. At the outbreak of war I was at the War Academy and had
just left my squadron.

Q. Can one say that the outbreak of war made the
professional soldier happy? What was their mood at that
time?

A. No, one cannot say that the outbreak of war was greeted
with enthusiasm Rather, we faced this fact in all
earnestness. As young soldiers, we saw our mission in
training and educating our men for the defence of our
country.

                                                    [Page 3]

Q. What posts did you hold during the war? Were you ever on
the staff of an air fleet?

A. Only for a short time, when I served as group commander.
I was, throughout, adjutant of the Commander-in-Chief of the
Air Force.

Q. As chief adjutant, as you said before, with the Commander-
in-Chief of the Air Force, you had a lot of inside
information about the Luftwaffe?

A. In so far as material was available, yes.

Q. Now, according to your inside information, did the chiefs
of air fleets have any influence on political decisions or
the conduct of the war?

A. According to my information the chiefs of air fleets had
no influence on any political decisions. Their job was the
technical execution of the orders received, and orders on
the conduct of the air war were given more and more by
Hitler himself.

Q. Did the chiefs of air fleets make any suggestions to use
more severe methods in the conduct of the war?

A. I do not know of any suggestions of this kind made by
chiefs of air fleets. They were professional soldiers who
acted according to orders.

Q. I have still one question. Was there any co-ordination
between the Services? Was this co-ordination of a purely
official nature or did it go further?

A. There was co-ordination between the chief local offices
at the front; at a higher level it was effected by the
Fuehrer himself.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no more questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other defendant's counsel wish to
ask any questions? Do the prosecution wish to cross-examine?

CROSS-EXAMINATION

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I would ask that the witness be shown
Document 1156-PS of the United States documents.

BY MR. JUSTICE JACKSON:

Q. Do you recognise this document, Witness?

A. No, I do not know this document.

Q. I call your attention to the date, 20th March, 1941, and
I call your attention to the fact that it purports to be a
report to Reichsmarschall Goering at the 19th March, 1941,
meeting.

A. While in the Service, I attended military conferences
only if they did not take place at the Fuehrer's
headquarters or if they were not personal discussions. I
have not seen this document and I do not know the facts.

Q. Let me call your attention to Item 2, which refers to
you, I take it, and which reads:

  "The directive worked out by the W.I. regarding
  destructive measures to be undertaken by the Luftwaffe in
  the 'Fall Barbarossa' was agreed to by the
  Reichsmarschall. One copy was handed to Captain von
  Brauchitsch for transmission to the General Staff of the
  Luftwaffe."

I ask you whether that states the facts.

A. I cannot remember these facts, neither can I give any
information about the contents of the letter mentioned here.

Q. You knew about the "Fall Barbarossa," did you not?

A. I did not hear about the "Fall Barbarossa" until the
beginning of 1941. I was not present at the conferences.

Q. But you did know that certain destructive measures were
planned to be undertaken in connection with that by the
Luftwaffe, did you not?

A. I know only of the first missions given to the Luftwaffe
and I recollect that attacks on airfields were ordered.

                                                    [Page 4]

Q. Did it not also provide for attacks against cities,
particularly St. Petersburg?

A. To my recollection and knowledge, at the time this letter
was written nothing was said about these targets but only
about attacks on airfields, which were the main targets of
the Luftwaffe.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I will ask that the witness be shown
Document 735-PS, in evidence as Exhibit GB 151.

Q. That is in evidence and appears to be a most secret
document of which only three copies were made; is that
correct?

A. May I read this letter first before I answer the
question?

Q. I call your attention first to the signature at the end
of it and ask you if you recognise it?

A. The signature is that of Warlimont.

Q. Who was Warlimont?

A. Warlimont was the Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces
Operations Staff.

Q. And you knew him well and he knew you well, is not that
so?

A. I knew him by sight and on this occasion I spoke to him
for the first time.

Q. On the occasion of this meeting that is recorded in these
minutes, is that the occasion when you first met and spoke
to Warlimont?

A. When I first spoke to him officially, yes.

Q. That was on 6th June, 1944, when this meeting was held?

A. According to this letter, yes.

Q. Now, I call your attention to Paragraph 1 of the minutes
of this meeting, from which it appears that
Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner opened this meeting with a
report that a conference on the question of the airmen had
been held shortly before with the Reichsmarschall, the Reich
Foreign Minister and the Reichsfuehrer S.S. That is the
opening of it, is it not?

A. I know nothing of the record of this conference or even
that it took place.

Q. Who was the Reichsmarschall at that time?

A. I remember the fact because, on 6th June, the invasion
started and during the night of the 5th I phoned
Reichsmarschall Goering himself and informed him that the
invasion had started. In the morning he left Veldenstein for
Klessheim in order to attend there, in the afternoon, a
conference on the situation.

Q. This meeting is said to have been held in Klessheim on
the afternoon of 6th June, is it not?

A. I said once before that I do not know anything of the
meeting as such, or of the subject of the discussion.

Q. Yes, I understand, you were not present. Goering was
Reichsmarschall; is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister at that time, was he not?

A. Yes.

Q. And who was the Reichsfuehrer S.S.?

A. Himmler.

Q. Now, it was as a result of that meeting at which the
Foreign Minister -just follow the next sentence - "The
Foreign Minister wished to include every type of terror
attack on native civilian population."

It was agreed that this conference, which you did attend,
was to take place; is that not the sense of the first
paragraph?

A. In the first place, I was not at this meeting and,
secondly, I do not know anything about the subject as shown
in evidence here, as I said before.

Q. Well, were you not at the meeting with Kaltenbrunner
which Kaltenbrunner called?

A. I was not at the meeting with Kaltenbrunner which is
mentioned here.

Q. Despite the signature of Warlimont on these minutes which
indicate you were?

                                                    [Page 5]

A. In spite of the signature. May I first read the whole
document before I give a definite answer?


Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.