The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Twenty-Eighth Day: Monday, January 7th, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[COLONEL TAYLOR continues]

[Page 6]

The next document, your Honour, is 508-PS, which will be Exhibit USA 545. Now, the Hitler Order of 18th October, 1942, was actually carried out in a number of instances, of which we have the documentary proof for several. Document 508-PS shows that during the night of l9th-20th November, 1942, a British freight glider crashed near Egersund, in Norway. The glider carried a British Commando Unit of 17 men, of whom three were apparently killed in the crash. All were in British uniform. Fourteen survivors were executed in accordance with the Hitler Order, the evening of 20th November. In proof of this I will read certain extracts from 508-PS, beginning on Page 1 of the translation, the paragraph numbered (1):
"(1) Following supplementary report is made about landing of a British freight glider at Egersund in the night of -"
It reads 11th November in the translation, but I believe in the original it was 20th November; that is a typographical error.
"(a) No firing on the part of the German defence.

(b) The towing plane (Wellington) has crashed after touching the ground; 7-man crew dead. The attached freight glider also crashed; of the 17-man crew 14 alive. Indisputably a sabotage force. Fuehrer Order has been carried out."

I pass to Page 3 of the translation, on which page appear two teletype messages. I wish to read the first two paragraphs at the top of that page.
"On 20th November, 1942, at 5.50 an enemy plane was found 15 km. N.E. of Egersund. It is a British aircraft (towed glider) made of wood, without engine. Of the 17- member crew three are dead, six are severely, the others slightly wounded.

All wore English khaki uniforms without sleeve-insignia. Furthermore, following items were found: 8 knapsacks, tents, skis and radiosender, exact number is unknown. The glider carried rifles, light machine guns and machine pistols, number unknown. At present the prisoners are with the battalion in Egersund."

Passing to the second teletype message, the first paragraph:
"Beside the 17-member crew extensive sabotage material and work equipment were found. Therefore the sabotage purpose was absolutely proved. The 280th Infantry Division ordered the execution according to the Fuehrer Order. The execution was carried out toward the evening of 20th November. Some of the prisoners wore blue ski- suits under their khaki uniforms which had no insignia on the sleeves. During a short interrogation the survivors have revealed nothing but their names, ranks and serial numbers."
I pass to the last paragraph of that teletype, at the foot of Page 3 of the translation:
"In connection with the shooting of the members of the crew, the Armed Forces Commander of Norway has issued an order to the district commanders, according to which the interrogations by G-2" - that was Ic in the German - "and by B.D.S." - police - "are important before the execution of the Fuehrer Order; in case of paragraph No. 4 of the Fuehrer Order the prisoners are to be handed over to the B.D.S."
Your Lordship, the next document is 512-PS, Exhibit USA 546. This document recites three specific instances where the Hitler Order was carried out in Norway, and especially emphasises the desirability of taking individual Commandos prisoner for interrogation. I read from Document 512-PS, dated 13th December, 1942:
"According to the last sentence of the Fuehrer Order of 18th October, individual saboteurs can be spared for the time being in order to keep them for interrogation. The importance of this measure was proved in the

[Page 7]

cases of the Glomfjord, 2-man torpedo Drontheirn, and glider plane Stavanger, where interrogations resulted in valuable knowledge of enemy intentions. Since in the case of Egersund the saboteur was liquidated immediately and no clues were found, therefore Armed Forces Commander refers to the above mentioned last sentence of the Fuehrer Order calling for liquidation only after a short interrogation."
One final document from the Norwegian theatre of war is relevant.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Taylor, what does "R.K." in the last paragraph mean? The first words of the last paragraph?

COLONEL TAYLOR: Red Cross, Rotes Kreuz.

THE PRESIDENT: So they had a protest from the Red Cross?



COLONEL TAYLOR: That is "Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei (Sipo)."

Document 526-PS, which is Exhibit USA 502, dated 10th May, 1943, Colonel Storey has already brought to the Tribunal's attention in connection with the presentation against the Sicherheitsdienst.

I will first read the opening sentences:

"On the 30th March, 1943, in Toftefjord (degree of latitude 70), an enemy cutter was sighted. Cutter was blown up by enemy.

Crew: 2 dead and 10 taken prisoners.

Cutter sent from Scalloway (Shetland Isles) by the Norwegian Navy.

Armament: 2 Colt machine guns; 2 mounted machine guns. Also a small transmitting set. There were likewise found on board: 4 tripods for mounting machine guns, 6 sub- m achine guns and 1,000 kilos of high explosives.

Cutter's Commander: Lt. Eskeland, of the Royal Norwegian Navy."

Passing to the word "Purposes":
Purpose: "Construction of an organisation for the sabotaging of strong-points, battery positions, staff and troop billets and bridges.

Assigner of Mission in London: Norwegian Major Munthe.

Fuehrer Order executed by Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service).

Wehrmacht Report of 6th April announces the following about it:

" 'In Northern Norway an enemy sabotage unit was engaged and destroyed on approaching the coast.'"
Now, shifting to the Italian theatre of war, I call the Court's attention to Document 509-PS, which will be Exhibit USA 547. This document is dated 7th November, 1943, and is a telegram from the Supreme Commander in Italy to O.K.W., and it shows that on 2nd November, 1943, three British Commandos, taken prisoner near Pescara in Italy, were given "special treatment" - (sonderbehandelt), which, as the Court knows from previous evidence in the case, meant death. What happened to the nine remaining prisoners of war in the hospital, we do not know.

I have one more document from the Italian theatre of war, 2610-PS, Exhibit USA 548. This specifically shows the carrying out of Hitler orders. It consists of an affidavit, dated 7th November, 1945, by Frederick W. Roche, a Major in the Army of the United States. Major Roche was the Judge Advocate of an American Military Commission which tried General Anton Dostler, formerly Commander of the 75th German Army Corps, for the unlawful execution of fifteen members of the United States armed forces. I will read from this affidavit:

"Frederick W. Roche, being duly sworn, deposes and says:

I am a Major in the, Army of the United States.

I was the Judge Advocate of the Military Commission which tried Anton Dostler for ordering the execution of the group of fifteen United States

[Page 8]

Army personnel who comprised the 'Ginny Mission.' This Military Commission, consisting of five officers, was appointed by command of General McNarney, by Special Orders No. 269, dated 26th September, 1945, Headquarters, Mediterranean theatre of Operations, United States Army, A.P.O. 512.

The Military Commission met at Rome, Italy, on 8th October, 1945, and proceeded with the trial of the case of the United States v. Anton Dostler. The trial of this case lasted four days and the findings and sentence were announced on the morning of 12th October, 1945. The charge and specification in this case are as follows:

Charge: Violation of the Law of War.

Specification: In that Anton Dostler, then General, commanding military forces for the German Reich, a belligerent enemy nation, to wit the 75th Army Corps, did on or about 24th March, 1944, in the vicinity of La Spezia, Italy, contrary to the law of war, order to be shot summarily a group of United States Army personnel consisting of two officers and thirteen enlisted men who had then recently been captured by forces under General Dostler, which order was carried into execution on or about 26th March, 1944, resulting in the death of the said fifteen members of the Army of the United States" - and a list of names follows.

I was present throughout the entire proceeding. I heard all the testimony and I am familiar with the records in this case. The facts developed in this proceeding are as follows: On the night of 22nd March, 1944, two officers and thirteen enlisted men of the 2677th Special Reconnaissance Battalion of the Army of the United States, disembarked from some United States Navy Boats and landed on the Italian coast near Stazione di Framura. All fifteen men were members of the army of the United States and were in the military service of the United States. When they landed on the Italian coast they were all properly dressed in the field uniform of the United States Army and they carried no civilian clothes. Their mission was to demolish a railroad tunnel on the main line between La Spezia and Genoa. That rail line was being used by the German forces to supply their fighting forces on the Cassino and Anzio Beachhead fronts. The entire group was captured on the morning of 24th March, 1944, by a patrol consisting of Fascist soldiers and a group of members of the German Army. All fifteen men were placed under interrogation in La Spezia and they were held in custody until the morning of 26th March, 1944, when they were all executed by a firing squad. These men were never tried nor were they brought before any court or given any hearing; they were shot by order of Anton Dostler, then General Commanding the 75th German Army Corps.

Anton Dostler took the stand in this case and testified, by way of defence, that he ordered the fifteen American soldiers to be shot pursuant to the Hitler Order of 18th October, 1942, on Commando Operations, which provided that Commandos were to be shot and not taken prisoners of war, even after they had been interrogated. He also testified that he would have been subject to court- martial proceedings if he did not obey the Hitler Order."

The following is a true copy of the findings and sentence in the case of the United States against Anton Dostler, as these findings and sentence appear in the original record of the trial and as they were announced in open court at Rome, Italy, on 12th October, 1945:
"Findings: General Dostler, as President of this Commission it is my duty to inform you that the Commission, in closed session and upon secret written ballot, at least two-thirds of all the members of the

[Page 9]

Commission concurring, finds you of the specification and of the charge: Guilty.

Sentence: And again in closed session and upon secret written ballot, at least two-thirds of all the members of the Commission concurring, sentences you: to be shot to death by musketry."

Now the order of 18th October, 1942, remained in force, so far as we know, until the end of the war. I wish to offer Document 506-PS, which will be Exhibit USA 549. This document is dated 22nd June, 1944. It is initialled by Warlimont and in it the O.K.W. made it clear that the Hitler Order was to be applied even in cases where the Commando operation was undertaken by only one person. I will read the single paragraph of the order:
"The Operations Staff agrees with the view taken in the letter of the Army Group Judge to the Supreme Commander Southwest of 20th May, 1944. The Fuehrer Order is to be applied even if the enemy employs only one person for a task. Therefore, it does not make any difference if several persons or a single person take part in a Commando Operation. The reason for the special treatment of participants in a Commando Operation is that such operations do not correspond to the German concept of usage and customs of (land) warfare."
The Allied landing in Norway early in June, 1944, in the course of which large-scale airborne operations took place, raised among the Germans the question as to how far the Hitler Order would be applied in Normandy, and in France behind the German lines. I direct the Court's attention to Document 531-PS, which will be Exhibit USA 550. The memorandum is dated 23rd June, 1944, and is signed by Warlimont. Warlimont's memorandum starts by quoting a teletype from the Supreme Command in the West, inquiring what should be done about applying the Hitler Order to Airborne Troops and Commandos.

I would like to read a small part of the teletype from the beginning:

"Supreme Command West reports by teletype message, Top Secret, 23rd June, 1944:

The treatment of enemy Commando Groups has so far been carried out according to the order referred to." (If I may interpolate here, the order referred to is shown in the cross-reference to the Fuehrer Order of 13th October, 1942.)

"With the large-scale landing achieved, a new situation has arisen. The order referred to directs, in paragraph 5, that enemy soldiers who are taken prisoner in open combat or surrender within the limits of normal combat operations (such as large-scale landing operations and undertakings) are not to be treated according to paragraphs 3 and 4. It must be established in a form easily understood by the troops how far the concept 'within the limits of normal combat operations' is to be extended."

Then I pass down to sub-paragraph D and read the first sentence of that sub-paragraph.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you ought to read the latter part of "C."

COLONEL TAYLOR: Your Honour, I think it is all summarised in the one sentence.

THE PRESIDENT: The last sentence is the one that I mean.

COLONEL TAYLOR: "Considerable reprisals against our own prisoners must be expected if its contents become known."

Then, continuing with "D":

"The application of number 5 for all enemy soldiers in uniform penetrating from the outside into the occupied Western Areas, is held by the Supreme Command West to be the most correct and clearest solution."

[Page 10]

Accordingly, as it is there shown, the Supreme Command in the West directed that paragraph 5, which is the paragraph under which the orders for execution are not to be applied, should be utilised in the West.

At the foot of the page is the position taken by the Armed Forces Operational Staff, the recommendation they were making:

"1. The Commando Order remains basically in effect, even after the enemy landing in the West.

2. Number 5 of the Order is to be clarified to the effect that the Order is not valid for those enemy soldiers in uniform, who are captured in open combat in the immediate combat area of the beachhead by our troops committed there, or who surrender. Our troops committed in the immediate, combat area means the divisions fighting on the front line, as well as reserves up to and including Corps Headquarters.

3. Furthermore, in doubtful cases, enemy personnel who have fallen into our hands alive are to be turned over to the S.D., upon whom it is incumbent to determine whether the Commando Order is to be applied or not.

4. Supreme Command West is to see to it that all units committed in its zone are orally acquainted in a suitable manner with the Order concerning the treatment of members of Commando undertakings of 18th October, 1942, together with the above explanation."

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