The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Dissenting Soviet Opinion
General Staff
(Part 2 of 2)

[Page 147]

As early as 13th May, 1941, OKW ordered the troops to use any terrorist measures against the civilian populations of the temporarily occupied regions of the Soviet Union.

Here a special stipulation read: "To confirm only such sentences as are in accordance with the political intentions of the Leadership." (G-50.)

2. OKW and the General Staff issued the most brutal decrees an orders for relentless measures against the unarmed peaceful population and the prisoners of war.

In the decree of special liability to punishment in the region "Barbarossa" while preparing for the attack upon the Soviet Union the OKW abolished beforehand the jurisdiction of the military courts, granting the right of repressions over the peaceful population to individual officers and soldiers.

It is particularly stated there that:

"Crimes of hostile civilians are excluded from the jurisdiction of the courts martial ...." "Suspected elements must be immediately delivered to the officer. The latter will decide whether they should be shot...." "it is absolutely forbidden to hold suspects for the purpose of bringing them to trial." There are also provisions for "the most extreme measures, and, in particular, 'measures for mass violence', if circumstances do not permit the rapid detection of the guilty."

In the same decree of the OKW the guarantee of impunity was assured in advance to the military criminals from the service personnel of the German Army. It states there as follows: "The bringing of suits of actions, committed by officials of the Army and by the service personnel against hostile civilians is not obligatory even in cases where such actions at the same time constitute military crimes or offenses .."

In the course of the war the High Command consistently followed this policy, increasing its terroristic actions with regard to prisoners of war and the peaceful populations of occupied countries.

The OKW directive of 16th September, 1941, states;

"It is important to realise that human life in the countries to which this refers, means nothing, and that intimidating action is possible only through the application of unusual brutality" (PS-98).

Addressing the commanders of the army groups on 23rd July, 1941, the OKW simply briefed them as follows: "It is not in the demand for additional security detachments, but in the application of appropriate draconic measures that the commanding officers must use to keep order in the regions under their jurisdiction" (PS-459).

The OKW directive of16th December, 1941, states:

"The troops ..have the right and are obliged to apply ..any measures whatsoever also against women and children if this contributes to success. . ." (USSR-16).

[Page 148]

Among the most brutal OKW directives concerning the treatment of prisoners of war one must consider the order entitled "Kugel (bullet)" The reasons for resorting to capital punishment for prisoners of war were offenses, which according to international conventions, generally should not carry any punishment (for example, escape from the camp).

Another order, "Nacht und Nebel" states:

"Penalty for such offenses, consisting of loss of freedom and even a life sentence is a sign of weakness. Only death sentence or measures which entail ignorance of the fate of the guilty by local population will achieve real effectiveness." (L-90, US-224 Transcript, Afternoon Session, 25th January, 1946)

In the course of the present Trial a great deal of evidence of application of the "Kugel" order has been submitted. One of the examples of this kind of crime is the murder of 50 officer-pilots. The fact that this crime was inspired by the High Command cannot be doubted.

OKW also distributed an order for the destruction of the "commando" units. The original order was submitted to the Court (PS-498, US-501). According to this order officers and soldiers of the "commando" units had to be shot, except in cases when they were to be questioned, after which they were shot in any case.

These orders were unswervingly carried out by the commanding officers of Army units. In June, 1944, Rundstedt, the Commander-in-Chief of the German troops in the West, reported that Hitler's order in regard to "the treatment of the 'commando' groups of the enemy is still being carried out" (PS-531, US-550).

3. The High Command, along with the SS and the Police, is guilty of the most brutal police actions in the occupied regions.

The instructions relating to special regions, issued by OKW on 13th March, 1941, contemplated the necessity of synchronizing the activities in occupied territories between the army command and the Reichsfuehrer of the SS. As is seen from the testimony of the chief of the 3d Department of RSHA and who was concurrently chief of the Einsatzgruppe "D" Otto Ohlendorf, and of the chief of the VI Department of RSHA, Walter Schellenberg, in accordance with OKW instructions there was an agreement made between the General Staff and the RSHA about the organisation of special "operational groups" of the Security Police and SD - "Einsatzgruppen" assigned to the appropriate army detachments.

Crimes committed by the Einsatzgruppen on the territory of the temporarily occupied regions are countless. The Einsatzgruppen were acting in close contact with the commanding officers of the appropriate army groups.

The following excerpt from the report of Einsatzgruppe "A" is extremely characteristic as evidence:

"among our functions as the establishment of personal liaison with the commanding officer both at the front and in the rear. It must be pointed out that the relations with the army were of the best, in some cases very close, almost hearty, as, for instance, the commander of the tank group, Colonel-General Hoppner" (L-180).

4. The representatives of the High Command acted in all the echelons of the army as members of a criminal group.

The directives of the OKW and the General Staff, in spite of the manifest violations of international law and customs of warfare, not only did not provoke any protest on the part of the higher staff officers of the command of the various groups of the armies but were inflexibly applied and supplemented by still more cruel orders in the development of such directives.

[Page 149]

In this connection it is characteristic to note the directive of Fieldmarshal von Reichenau, army group commander, addressed to his soldiers: "The soldier in the eastern territories is not only a warrior skilled in the art of warfare but a bearer of a merciless national ideology." And elsewhere, calling for the extermination of the Jews, von Reichenau wrote: "Thus the soldier must be in full cognizance of the necessity for harsh and just revenge on those sub-humans, the Jews" (US-556).

As another example the order of Fieldmarshal von Mannstein addressed to his soldiers can be referred to. On the basis of the "political aims of the war" the Fieldmarshal cynically appealed to his soldiers to wage the war in violation of the "recognised laws of warfare in Europe" (US- 927).

Thus, in the course of the hearing of evidence it has been proven beyond all doubt that the General Staff and the High Command of the Hitlerite Army comprised a highly dangerous criminal organisation.


I consider it my duty as a Judge to draw up my dissenting opinion concerning those important questions on which I disagree with the decision adopted by the members of the Tribunal.

Soviet Member, IMT,
Major General Jurisprudence
I. T. Nikitchenko

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