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 6 of 9)

[Page 288]

COLONEL AMEN to witness: As a member of the Abwehr, were you generally well informed on the plan of the German Reich for waging of war?

WITNESS: In so far as the office of the Abwehr was concerned in the preparation for these matters.

Q. Did any intelligence information ever come to your attention which was not available to an ordinary person, or to an ordinary officer in the army?

A. Yes, certainly. It is a function of my office.

Q. And, on the basis of the knowledge which you so obtained, did you in your group come to any decisions as to whether or not the attack on Poland, for example, was an unprovoked act of aggression?


WITNESS: Would you be kind enough to repeat the question?

THE PRESIDENT: That is one principal question which this Court has to decide. You cannot produce evidence upon a question which is within the province of the Court to decide.

COLONEL AMEN: Very well, sir. The witness is now available for cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it the Soviet prosecutor's wish to ask any questions of this witness? General Rudenko

DIRECT EXAMINATION BY GENERAL RUDENKO: You have made definite replies to questions and I should like to have certain details. Am I to understand you rightly that the insurgent units of the Ukrainian nationalists were organised under the direction of the German High Command?

A. They were Ukrainian immigrants from Galicia.

Q. And from these immigrants were formed insurgent units (Commandos).

A. Yes, "Commando" perhaps is not quite the right expression. They were people who were brought together in tents and were given a military or a semi-military training.

Q. What was the function of these Commandos?

A. They were organisations of immigrants from the Ukraine Galicia, as I already previously stated, who worked together with the Amt Abwehr.

Q. What were these troops supposed to accomplish?

A. Tasks were assigned to them from time to time at the beginning of the operation by the office in charge of the command. That is, in the case of orders originating from the office to which I belonged, they were determined by the OKW.

[Page 289]

Q. What functions did these groups have?

A. These Commandos were to carry out sabotage behind the enemy's front line.

Q. That is to say, in what territory?

A. In those territories with which Germany had entered into war or, speaking of a concrete case, such as the trial is concerned with, in Poland.

Q. Of course, in Poland. Well, sabotage and what else.

A. Sabotage, wrecking of bridges and other objectives of military importance. The Wehrmacht operational staff determined what was of military importance; details of that activity I have just described, namely, destruction of militarily important objectives or objectives important for a particular operation.

Q. But what about terroristic activities? I am asking you about the terroristic activities of these units.

A. Political tasks were not assigned to them by us, i.e., the Amt Ausland-Abwehr. Political assignments were made by the respective Reich office where it should be said, often as a result of erroneous ...

Q. You have misunderstood me. You are speaking about sabotage and I was asking you concerning terroristic acts of these organisations. Do you understand me? Was terror one of their tasks? Let me repeat again; as well as the sabotage acts, were there any terror acts assigned to them?

A. On our part never.

Q. You have told me that from your side there was no question of terrorism. From whose side was there? Who worked on this aspect?

A. Well, that was the whole point at the time. Each one of these military Abwehr units was being asked again and again to use their purely military organisation, which was established to take care of the tasks of the Armed Forces operation, for political or terroristic methods, as is clearly shown by the memorandum on our files concerning the campaign against Poland.

Q. Answering the question of Colonel Amen as to whether the Red Army men were looked upon as an ideological enemy and was subjected to corresponding measures, what do you mean by corresponding measures? I repeat the question. You have said that the Red Army man was looked upon by you, I mean by the German High Command, as an ideological enemy, and was to be subjected to the corresponding measures. What does it mean? What do you mean by "corresponding measures"?

A. By special measures I mean quite clearly all those brutal methods which were actually used and which I have already mentioned, and of which I am convinced there were many more, more than I could possibly have seen in my restricted field and more than were known to me.

Q. You have already told the Tribunal that there were special commandos for the screening of prisoners of war. I understand that they were screened in the following way: into those who were to be killed and the others who were to be interned in camps, is that right?

A. Yes, but these special commandos of the S.D. alone were concerned with the execution of those selected amongst the prisoners of war.

Q. That, of course, makes the chief of the commandos responsible and decisive for the question as to who was to die and who was not to die.

A. Yes, it was this very subject that was under discussion with Reinecke. The fact was mentioned that he was to be the head of one such commando which was to decide who, in view of the order, was to be looked upon as Bolshevistically tainted and who was not.

Q. And the chief of the commando decided upon his own authority, what to do with them.

A. Yes, at least up to the date of the discussion in which I participated upon an order from Canaris, this point, amongst others, was one of the most important ones of this discussion.

[Page 290]

Q. You have told us about your protest and the protest of Canaris against these atrocities, killings and so forth. What were the results of these protests?

A. As I have already stated, there were some very modest results, so modest that you can hardly call them results at all. The fact that executions were to take place out of sight of the troops or at least at a 500-metres distance, I can in no way call a result.

Q. What conversation did you have with Muller on this subject, concerning his concessions? You told us when you were asked by General Alexandrov (please who is Alexandrov?) you were questioned by Colonel Rosenblith, a representative of the Soviet Delegation. I am sorry I made a mistake. Perhaps you will remember your communication to Colonel Rosenblith regarding the conversation and the concession that Muller made. I shall ask you to tell us that part again.

A. Yes, correct. Yes, if the name is Alexandrov, though I do not know what Alexandrov meant in this connection.

Q. Alexandrov was a mistake on my part, forget it. I am interested in the question of Muller, concerning the shootings, torturings, and so forth.

A. I had a long conversation with Muller, especially with regard to the selections. I cited, to be concrete, the case of the Crimean Tartars, i.e., the case of Soviet Russian soldiers who, according to their nationality, originated from the Crimea; and cases where, for certain reasons, Mohammedan people were declared Jews, and were then executed. Apart from the brutality of these and all other similar measures, these cases proved the entirely irrational point of view, or points of view, incomprehensible to any normal person, which characterised the handling of the entire matter. To that, among other things, I made reference.

Q. You told us where these measures were carried out.

THE PRESIDENT: He doesn't hear you, carry on but do a little bit more slowly.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Have you finished your conversation with Muller?

WITNESS: No, I didn't quite finish, I had many discussions with Muller and all this was a consensus of these discussions. All the subjects about which I have given evidence were discussed first with Muller as the man in authority in at least one sector. As for Reinecke, he then merely decided according to his own ideas, and his own point of view, and contrary to my views or those held by the Amt. I would be grateful if you would tell me what particular points you would like me to explain and I will gladly repeat them.

Q. Your usual topic of discussion was murders, shootings, and so forth, especially shootings. I am interested in all that. What did Muller say about it? How were shootings to take place, especially in relation to your protests?

A. He told me in a rather cynical form that in this case the shootings would take place somewhere else if the troops were too disturbed by them and if, as I described it, "their morale suffers," etc ., and that was the main meaning of what he said.

Q. That was the result of your protest?

A. Yes, that was the very poor result of our protest, and then still a certain concession ...

Q. And one last question. The conditions of the concentration camps where Soviet prisoners were taken and where mass destruction of prisoners was committed; were all these orders the result of directives of the German High Command?

A. In some sort of co-operation with the competent authorities, the Reichs-Sicherheitshauptamt. Corroborating all I have stated, I must point out that at the time, I myself did not read the orders, and that I learned of the work alone on parallel lines, or the collaboration, or the co-ordination in this question only from conversations and primarily from the conversations with Reinecke, and

[Page 291]

wherever I encountered a representative of the O.K.W. in the persons of Reinecke and of the afore-mentioned Muller.

Q. Excuse me, did you get to know that information in private or unofficial sessions or conversations?

A. It was a strictly official meeting called by General Reinecke. I was not there as "Lahousen", but as a representative of the Ausland-Abwehr.

Q. The orders which are passed on in these sessions, did they come to you directly from the German High Command?

A. They came from the German High Command and from one of the highest officers of the R.S.H.A., according to what Reinecke said during one of these discussions. I have never seen them with my own eyes, therefore this is all I can state.

Q. But you have heard during these meetings where and when they were discussed?

A. Yes, during the discussions, the course of which I have already described, or at least in its essential aspects, of course.

Q. And during these sessions which you mentioned were the questions raised about murders, and burning of cities?

A. There was no talk at these discussions about setting on fire, but mention was made of the orders which had been issued with respect to the prisoners.

Q. About the murders only.

A. About the executions.


THE PRESIDENT: Does the French prosecutor wish to ask any questions?

BY M. DUBOST: One single question.

Q. Who gave the orders for the liquidation of the army leaders?

A. I did not understand that - the destruction of the "Kommandos"? What was it exactly that you meant? Presumably the killing of members of the Kommando troops?

Q. Who gave the orders for the execution?

A. I did not read the order myself, but according to what was said in our circles about this subject, the idea came from Hitler himself, who was instrumental in reorganising the S.D., but who also has helped in the reforming of the S.D. I do not know.

Q. The defendants Keitel, Jodl, what orders did they handle; what orders did they give?

A. I cannot say that because I do not know.

Q. What were the reasons for these orders, as far as you know?

A. Not merely was it my opinion, but it was common knowledge, that the reasons for these orders were, to have an intimidating effect and thus to crush and paralyse the activity of the commandos.

Q. Who gave the order to have Generals Giraud and Weygand executed or murdered?

A. I did not hear the first part of the question. Who gave the order to kill Weygand and Giraud? The order to liquidate, that is, to be explicit, to murder Weygand and Giraud, as Canaris told me, came from Keitel. This order and this intention regarding the case Weygand, were furthermore directly transmitted to me in a personal remark on the part of Keitel. Keitel asked me after Canaris had read to him a report in my presence, On 23rd December, 1940, according to my notes, about the progress in the case Weygand.

As regards the second case, that is the case Giraud, it is a fact that the order came from Keitel to Canaris - this I heard first from Canaris himself - and so did the other chiefs who were present. I further heard of it a second time during a report from Canaris to Keitel, in my presence, in July, 1942, when this order was communicated to me in a manner similar to that of case Weygand, and, finally, in a

[Page 292]

direct manner, that is, a telephone conversation which I described here, received from Keitel and transmitted as urgent intelligence.

(The British Chief Prosecutor indicated that he had no questions to ask.)

THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to ask any questions, Dr. Nelte?

DR. NELTE (Counsel for defendant Keitel): The witness, Lahousen, has given very important evidence, particularly -

THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to make a speech now?

DR. NELTE: My client, the defendant Keitel, would like to put numerous questions to the witness after he has had a discussion with me. I therefore ask the Tribunal to allow either that there may be a considerable adjournment now, or that at the next session this question may be discussed in cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. You shall have an opportunity to cross-examine at 10 o'clock to-morrow. Does any member of the Tribunal wish to ask any questions of the witness now?


Q. I should like to ask the witness whether the orders for the killing of the Russians and in connection with the treatment of the prisoners were in writing?

A. As far as I know, yes, but I did not see or read these orders myself.

Q. Were they official orders?

A. Yes, they were official orders, of course, though the facts were brought out in a roundabout way. It was these orders which Reinecke and the others discussed and this is how I learned about their essential points; I did not read them myself at any time. Still, that they were not oral agreements I knew, because they were commented upon; consequently I knew that something existed in writing. Only, I cannot say whether there were one or more orders, or who signed them. This I did not claim to know. I submitted my knowledge which is based solely on discussions and reports from which I quite clearly could deduct the existence of orders.

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