The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Dissenting Soviet Opinion:
General Staff
(Part 1 of 2)

[Page 144]

VI. Incorrect Judgment with Regard to the General Staff and the OKW.

The verdict incorrectly rejects the accusation of criminal activity directed against the General Staff and the OKW.

The rejection of the accusation of criminal activity of the General Staff and of the OKW contradicts both the actual situation and the evidence submitted in the course of the Trial.

[Page 145]

It has been established beyond doubt that the Leadership Corps of the Armed Forces of Nazi Germany, together with the SS Party machine, represented the most important agency in preparing and realizing the Nazi aggressive and man-hating program. This was constantly and forcefully reiterated by the Hitlerites themselves in their official bulletins meant for the officer personnel of the armed forces. In the Nazi Party bulletin called "Politics and the Officer in the III Reich" it is quite clearly stated that the Nazi regime is founded on "two pillars: the Party and the Armed Forces. Both are forms of expression of the same philosophy of life ..the tasks before the Party and the Armed Forces are in an organic relationship to each other and each bears the same responsibility ..both these agencies depend on each other's successor failure." (PS-4060, US-928)

This organic inter-relationship between the Nazi Party and the SS on the one hand and the Nazi Armed Forces on the other hand, was particularly evident among the upper circles of military hierarchy which the Indictment groups together under the concept of criminal organisationthat is, among the members of the General Staff and the OKW.

The very selection of members of the Supreme Command of the Army in Nazi Germany was based on the criteria of their loyalty to the regime and their readiness not to pursue aggressive militaristic policies but also to fulfill such special directives as related to treatment meted out to prisoners of war and to the civilian populations of occupied territories.

The leaders of the German Armed Forces were not merely officers who reached certain levels of the military hierarchy. They represented, first of all, a closely-knit group which was entrusted with the most secret plans of the Nazi leadership. Evidence submitted to the Tribunal has fully confirmed the contention that the military leaders of Germany justified this trust completely and that they were the convinced followers and ardent executors of Hitler's plans.

It is not accidental that at the head of the Air Force stood the "second man" of the Nazi Reich, namely Goering; that the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy was Doenitz, subsequently designated by Hitler to be the latter's successor; that the command of the Ground Forces was concentrated in the hands of Keitel who signed the major part of the decrees concerning the execution of the prisoners of war and of the civilians in occupied territories.

Thus the comparisons made with the organisation of the supreme commands in Allied countries cannot be considered valid. In a democratic country, not one self-respecting military expert would agree to prepare plans for mass reprisals and merciless killings of prisoners of war side by side with plans of a purely military and strategic character.

Meanwhile it is precisely such matters that occupied the supreme command of the General Staff and of the OKW in Nazi Germany. The commission by them of the heaviest Crimes against Peace, of the War Crimes, and of the Crimes against humanity is not denied but is particularly emphasised in the verdict of the Tribunal. And yet the commission of these crimes has not brought the logical conclusion.

The verdict states:

"They have been a disgrace to the honorable profession of arms. Without their military guidance the aggressive ambitions of Hitler and his fellow Nazis would have been academic and sterile.."

And subsequently:

"Many of these men have made a mockery of the soldier's oath of obedience to military orders. When it suits their defense they say they had to obey; when confronted with Hitler's brutal crimes, which are shown

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to have been within their general knowledge, they say they disobeyed. The truth is they actively participated in all these crimes, or sat silent and acquiescent, witnessing the commission of crimes on a scale larger and more shocking than the world ever had the misfortune to know. This must be said."

All these assertions in the verdict are correct and are based on numerous and reliable depositions. It remains only incomprehensible why "these hundred or so higher officers" who have caused the world and their own country so much suffering should not be acknowledged a criminal organisation.

The verdict advances the following reasons for the decision, reasons quite contradictory to the facts:

(a) That the crimes were committed by representatives of the General Staff and of the OKW as private individuals and not as members of a criminal conspiracy.

(b) That the General Staff and the OKW were merely weapons in the hands of the conspirators and interpreters or executors of the conspirators' will.

Numerous evidence disputes such conclusions.

I. The leading representatives of the General Staff and of the OKW, along with a small circle of the higher Hitlerite officials, were called upon by the conspirators to participate in the development and the realization of the plans of aggression, not as passive functionaries, but as active participants in the conspiracy against peace and humanity.

Without their advice and active cooperation, Hitler could not have solved these problems.

In the majority of cases their opinion was decisive. It is impossible to imagine how the aggressive plans of Hitler's Germany could have been realised had it not been for the full support given him by the leading staff members of the armed forces.

Least of all did Hitler conceal his criminal plans and motivations from the leaders of the High Command.

For instance, while preparing for the attack on Poland, as early as 29th May, 1939, at a conference with the high military commanders of the new Reich Chancellery, he stated:

"For us the matter consists of the expansion of 'Lebensraum' to the East. Thus the question of sparing Poland cannot be considered, and, instead, we have to consider the decision to attack Poland at the first opportunity." (L-79)

Long before the seizure of Czechoslovakia, in a directive of 30th May, 1938, Hitler, addressing the representatives of the High Command, cynically stated:

"From the military and political point of view, the most favorable time is a lightning attack on the basis of some incident, by which Germany will have been strongly provoked and which will morally justify the military measures to at least part of the world opinion" (PS-388).

Prior to the invasion of Yugoslavia, in a directive dated 27th March, 1941, addressing the representatives of the High Command, Hitler wrote:

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"Even if Yugoslavia declares its loyalty, it must be considered an enemy and must, therefore, be smashed as soon as possible" (PS-1746).

While preparing for the invasion of the U.S.S.R., Hitler invited the representatives of the General Staff and the OKW to help him work out the related plans and directives not at all as simply the military experts.

In the instructions to apply propaganda in the region "Barbarossa" issued by the OKW in June, 1941, it is pointed out that:

"For the time we should not have propaganda directed at the dismemberment of the Soviet Union" (U.S.S.R.-477).

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