The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
November 20 to December 1, 1945

Ninth Day: Friday, 30th November, 1945
(Part 5 of 9)

[COLONEL AMEN continues]

[Page 283]

Q. To whom in the ordinary course did these protests go?

A. The protests were addressed to Canaris' superior officer, that is to say, to the Chief of the O.K.W.

[Page 284]

Q. Who was that?

A. It was Keitel, at that time.

Q. Did these protests in the ordinary course go also to Jodl?

A. That I cannot say, but it is possible.

Q. Now, will you tell the Tribunal what the grounds of the protests which you made were.

A. The basis was, above all, that it was contrary to the interpretation of International Law that soldiers, that is to say, not agents or spies, but soldiers clearly recognisable as such, should be killed after they had been taken prisoner. That was the main point and one also of concern to my section, since it also comprised soldiers who had to carry out such or similar tasks in their capacity as soldiers.

Q. Were there any other grounds urged in protest against these orders?

A. Certainly. Other reasons were also mentioned in accordance with the interests of the different sections affected by these orders. For the Amt Ausland, it was the point of view of International Law. The Abwehr Division III was particularly interested to interrogate soldiers captured in commando raids, rather than see them killed.

Q. Were there any other chiefs of the Amt Abwehr who assisted in the preparation of these protests?

A. As far as I remember to-day, no.

Q. You mentioned Admiral Burckner, did you not?

A. Yes, Burckner belonged to the Amt-Ausland Abwehr, but he wasn't the chief, but only Section Chief of Amt Ausland.

Q. Now, have you ever heard of an operation known as "Gustav"?

A. The name "Gustav" was applied not to an operation but to an undertaking very like or similar to the one which was demanded for the elimination of Marshal Weygand.

Q. Will you tell the Tribunal what was the meaning of "Gustav"?

A. "Gustav" was the expression used by the Chief of the O.K.W. as a cover name to be used in conversations on the question of General Giraud.

Q. When you say the Chief of the O.K.W., are you referring to Keitel?

A. Yes.

Q. And are you referring to General Giraud of the French Army?

A. Yes, General Giraud of the French Army who, according to my recollection, fled from Koenigstein in 1942.

Q. Do you know of any order issued with respect to General Giraud?

A. Yes.

Q. Who issued such an order?

A. The Chief of the O.K.W., Keitel, gave an order of this kind to Canaris, not in writing but an oral order.

Q. How did you come to know about this order?

A. I knew of this order in the same way as certain other chiefs of the sections, e.g., Chief of Abwehr Section 1, Bentivigny, and a few other officers. We all heard it at a discussion with Canaris.

Q. What was the substance of the order?

A. The essential part of this order was to eliminate Giraud in the same way as Weygand.

Q. When you say "eliminate" what do you mean?

A. I mean the same as in the case of Marshal Weygand, that is, he was to be killed.

Q. Do you recall the approximate date when this order was given by Keitel to Canaris?

A. This order was given to Canaris repeatedly. I cannot say for certain when it was given for the first time as I was not present. It was probably after the

[Page 285]

flight of Giraud from Koenigstein and it was probably given for the first time prior to the attempt on the life of Heydrich, in Prague. According to my notes, this subject was discussed with me by Keitel in July of the same year. Canaris also being present.

Q. Well now, what did Keitel first say to you personally about this affair?

A. I cannot give the exact text, but the meaning was that he proclaimed the intention of having Giraud killed, similarly as in the case of Weygand, and asked me how the matter was progressing.

Q. And what did you say to him on that occasion?

A. I cannot remember the exact words. I probably gave some evasive answer, or one that would permit time to be gained.

Q. Now, was this question later discussed by you at any time?

A. According to my recollection, this question was once more discussed in August. The exact date can be found in my notes. Canaris telephoned me in my private apartment one evening and said impatiently that Keitel was urging him again about Giraud, and the Section Chiefs were to meet the next day on this question.

The next day that meeting was held and Canaris repeated in this larger circle what he had said to me over the phone the night before, that he was being continually pressed by Keitel that something must at last be done in this matter. Our attitude was the same as in the matter of Weygand. All those present rejected flatly this new demand to carry out a murder. We mentioned our decision to Canaris, who also was of the same opinion, and Canaris thereupon went down to Keitel in order to induce him to leave the Military Abwehr out of all such matters and to request that, as agreed prior to this, such matters should be left to the S.D.

In the meantime, while we were all there, I remember Pieckenbrock spoke, and I remember every word he said. He said it was about time that Keitel was told clearly that he should tell his Herr Hitler, that we, the Military Abwehr, were no murder organisation like the S.D. or the S.S. After a short time, Canaris came back and said it was now quite clear that he had convinced Keitel that we the Military Abwehr, were to be left out of such matters, and further measures were to be left to the S.D.

I must observe here and recall that Canaris had said to me that once this order had been given, the execution must be prevented at any cost. He would take care of that and I was to support him.

Q. I don't think you have yet told us just who were present at this conference?

A. The three Abwehr Chiefs were present, Colonel Pieckenbrock, whom I have already mentioned, Colonel-General Bentivigny, and I. Probably, also, General Oster, and possibly Burckner, but I cannot remember clearly. In my notes only those three chiefs are mentioned who all strictly rejected the proposal

Q. What was the next occasion when this matter was brought to your attention again?

A. A little later, it must have been September - the exact date has been recorded - Keitel rang me up in my private apartment. He asked me what was happening with "Gustav". "You know what I mean by 'Gustav'? " I said, "Yes, I know." "How is the matter progressing, I must know, it is very urgent." I answered, "I have no information on the subject. Canaris has reserved this matter to himself, and Canaris is not here, he is in Paris." Then came the order from Keitel, or rather, before he gave the order, he put one more question. "You know that the others are to carry out the order." By the others, he means the S.S. and S.D. respectively. I answered, "Yes, I know." Then came an order from Keitel to ask Muller immediately how the whole matter was progressing. "I must know it immediately," he said. I said, "Yes." I went at once to the office of the Ausland- Abwehr, General Oster, and informed him of what had happened, and asked for his advice as to what was to be done by Canaris and me in this extremely critical and difficult matter. I told him what, as Oster

[Page 286]

knew nothing yet of what it was expected to do, Canaris so far had told the S.D. concerning the murder of Giraud. General Oster advised me to fly to Paris immediately and to inform Canaris and to warn him. I flew the next day to Paris, and met Canaris at an hotel at dinner in a small circle, which included Admiral Burckner, and told Canaris what had happened. Canaris was horrified and amazed, and for a moment he saw no way out.

During the dinner Canaris asked me in the presence of Burckner and two other officers, i.e., Colonel Rudolph, and another officer whose name I have forgotten, as to the date when Giraud had fled from Koenigstein, and when Abwehr III had been in Prague, and at what time the assassination of Heydrich had taken place. I knew these dates, and told them to him. When he had the three dates, he was instantly relieved, and his face which had been very clouded, relaxed. He was certainly relieved in every way. I must say that in particular - at the three days' conference of the Abwehr, Heydrich was present. It was a meeting between Amt Abwehr III and the co-ordinating functionaries at the meeting of Prague.

Canaris then based his whole plan on these three dates. His plan was to attempt to show that Heydrich, during the conference, had passed on the order to carry out the action. That is to say, his plan was to use the death of Heydrich to wreck the whole proposition. The next day we flew to Berlin, and Canaris reported to Keitel that the matter was taking its course, and that Canaris had given Heydrich the necessary instructions at the three days' conference in Prague, and Heydrich had prepared everything, that is, a special purpose action had been started in order to have Giraud murdered, and that the matter was completed and all mapped out.

COLONEL AMEN: There was a mistake I think in the translation a little way back. If you don't mind will you please go back to where you first referred to Heydrich with Canaris, and repeat the story, because I think that the translation was incorrect. In other words, go back to the point where Canaris suddenly seemed relieved, and started to tell you what the apparent solution might be.

THE WITNESS: All those present saw that Canaris was much relieved, when he heard from me the three dates. His whole plan or his manoeuvring was a purely mental combination, possibly on the basis of his three dates, of which the essential part was the date of the escape of Giraud, and the three-day conference, and typical of his mentality. Had this combination been made prior to Giraud's escape, it would probably not have stood the test.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, what is the reason for the repetition?

COLONEL AMEN: There was a mistake in the record. If it is the wish of the Tribunal, I shall not get him to repeat it any further.

THE PRESIDENT: It seems clear to the Tribunal what was said.

COLONEL AMEN: Very well.

Q. What, if anything, happened next in so far as the affair Giraud was concerned?

A. Nothing more happened. Giraud fled to North Africa, and I only heard that Hitler was very indignant about this escape, and said that the S.D. had failed miserably, that it would be written down in the records of the Hauptquartier. The man who told me this is in the American zone.

Q. Were you acquainted with Colonel Rowehls?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was he?

A. He was an officer. He was a colonel of the Luftwaffe.

Q. What was the work of the special squadron to which he was attached?

A. He had a special squadron for altitude flying, which operated together with the Ausland-Abwehr reconnaissance, in respect to certain States.

Q. Were you ever present when he reported to Canaris?

A. I was present occasionally.

[Page 287]

Q. Do you recall what Rowehls told Canaris on those occasions?

A. He reported on the result of the reconnaissance flight and submitted his findings to Abwehr 1 - that is, Amt Abwehr 1. I was responsible for this, and noted the results.

Q. Did you know over what territories these reconnaissance flights had been made?

A. They were taken over Poland and England and in the South- east sphere. I cannot say in any greater detail what territory, and what State in the South-east, but I know that this squadron was stationed in Budapest for such reconnaissance.

Q. Did you personally see some of these photographs?

A. Yes.

Q. Now will you tell the Tribunal the dates when you know that these reconnaissance flights over London and Leningrad were being made?

A. I cannot give the exact dates. I only remember being present at the Abwehr with Canaris, or with Bentivigny who was there sometimes, and Pieckenbrock; that these reconnaissance flights did take place, and that photographic material was furnished, and that the squadron operated from Hungarian airfields. I flew back to Berlin with them at one time. I knew some of the pilots from their activities.

Q. What I am going to ask you about now is the year, or years we will say, when these reconnaissance flights were being made?

A. In a certain part of 1939 before the beginning of the Polish campaign.

Q. Were these flights kept secret?

A. Yes, of course, they were secret.

Q. And why were these flights being made from Hungary, do you know?

A. A Luftwaffe expert would have to give this information.

Q. Have you in your possession a report of the treatment of the Jews in certain territories?

A. Yes, I have a report which probably came to us through Department III, and I made several copies for Canaris and one for myself, regarding incidents in Borisov.

Q. Is that an official report?

A. Yes, and it was a report. The files would show from what office it came to us. In this connection Borisov to me recalls the particular name of an Abwehr officer in connection with this shooting of Jews, an officer whom I knew quite well.

COLONEL AMEN: Now, may it please the Tribunal, I should like to offer in evidence a photostatic copy or copies of the entries made by the witness in every detail, together with a photostatic copy of the report. The originals are here in court, but cannot be lifted out of the box in which they are contained. They are so much damaged by a bomb explosion that if they were to be lifted out of the box, they would be destroyed beyond use, but we have had them photostated, and the photostatic copies are now available. That letter would be exhibit USA 80 - document 3047-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: Do I understand, Colonel Amen, that only such portions of these documents as are read in court will be in evidence?

COLONEL AMEN: Well, these have been used by the witness to refresh his recollection.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know they have.

COLONEL AMEN: And none of them have been read in full in Court, but they may be so read at any time, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: If you want them to go into evidence as documents, you must read them, of course. Colonel Amen, do you want to use the documents any more than you already used them for the purpose of refreshing the witness's memory?

[Page 288]

COLONEL AMEN: I do not, Sir, except that having used them in this fashion, I now think it is only fair to offer them in evidence for the information and scrutiny of the Tribunal; for my own purpose they have served their ends.

THE PRESIDENT: If the defence wants to see them for the purpose of cross-examination, of course, they may do so.

COLONEL AMEN: Oh, yes, Sir. I have offered it already, Sir, to be exhibit USA 80 - document 3047-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: But otherwise they may not be put in evidence?


THE PRESIDENT: From this damaged paper, it seems to contain a report on the execution of the Jews in Borisov.


THE PRESIDENT: That again will not be in evidence unless you read it.

COLONEL AMEN Correct, Sir. We will include that in the offer which I just made to you, that, unless what we are offering is desired by the Court, I will not offer it in evidence or read it.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, the Court does not desire it.

COLONEL AMEN: Very well.

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