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 3 of 10)

[COLONEL TAYLOR continues]

[Page 10]

The final document on this episode, or inquiry, is Exhibit USA 551, and this is the actual Order of 25th June, 1944, constituting O.K.W.'s reply to the inquiry from the Supreme Command West, signed by Keitel, initialled by Warlimont and Jodl. I will read this, beginning with:
"Subject: Treatment of Commando Participants.

1. Even after the landing of Anglo-Americans in France, the order of the Fuehrer on the destruction of terror and sabotage units of 18th October, 1942, remains fully in force.

Enemy soldiers in uniform in the immediate combat area of the bridgehead, that is, in the area of the divisions fighting in the most forward lines, as well as of the reserves up to the Corps Commands, according to number 5 of the basic order of 18th October, 1942, remain exempted.

2. All members of terror and sabotage units, found outside the immediate combat area, including fundamentally all parachutists, are to be killed in combat. In special cases, they are to be turned over to the S.D.

3. All troops, committed outside the combat area of Normandy, are to be informed, briefly and succinctly, according to the directives issued for it, about the duty to destroy enemy terror and sabotage units.

4. Supreme Commander West will report immediately each day, how many saboteurs have been liquidated in this manner. This applies especially also to undertakings by the military commanders. The number is to be published daily in the Armed Forces Communique to exercise a frightening effect, as had already been done towards previous Commando undertakings in the same manner."

Your Lordship, there is just one further development in connection with this order, this basic order, and that was in July, 1944. The question was then raised within the German High Command as to whether the order should be applied to members of foreign military missions, with special regard to the British, American and Soviet Military Missions which were co-operating with Allied Forces in South- eastern Europe, notably in Yugoslavia. A long document signed by Warlimont, which is 1279-PS, and becomes Exhibit USA 552, embodies the discussions which were held at O.K.W. I think I need not read from this document, and merely wish to point out that the Armed Forces Operational Staff recommended, that the order should be applied

[Page 11]

to these military missions, and drew up a draft to this effect. I would, however, like to read Document 537-PS, which becomes Exhibit USA 553. This is the order which actually resulted from these discussions. It is dated 30th July, 1944. I will read it in full:
"Subject: Treatment of members of foreign 'Military Missions,' captured together with Partisans.

In the areas of the High Command South-east and South- west, members of foreign so-called 'Military Missions' (Anglo-American as well as Soviet-Russian), captured in the course of the struggle against Partisans, shall not receive the treatment as specified in the special orders regarding the treatment of captured Partisans. Therefore, they are not to be treated as prisoners of war but in conformity with the Fuehrer's order concerning the elimination of terror and sabotage troops of 18th October, 1942.

This order shall not be transmitted to other units of the Armed Forces via the High Commands and equivalent staffs, and is to be destroyed after being made known.

The Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, Keitel."

Pursuant to this order, approximately fifteen members of an Allied Military Mission to Slovakia were executed in January, 1945, as is shown by Document L-51, which is already in the record as Exhibit USA 521, and which has been read in full by Lieutenant Harris. I will not read it again.

This concludes the presentation of documents with respect to the order of the 18th October, 1942, and its subsequent enforcement and application. I can pass from here to another subject.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn for ten minutes now.

(A recess was taken.)

COL. TAYLOR: Your Lordship, the order I have just been discussing operated chiefly in the Western theatre of war. This was natural, since Germany occupied almost the entire Western coast of Europe from 1940 until the last year of the war, and during that period land fighting in Western Europe was largely limited to Commando Operations.

I want to pass now to the Eastern front, where there was large-scale land fighting in Poland and the Soviet Union, from 1941 on. Here the German forces were fighting among a hostile population and had to face extensive Partisan activities behind their lines. I propose to show here that the activities of the German Armed Forces against Partisans and against other elements of the population became a vehicle for carrying out Nazi political and racial policies, and a vehicle for the massacre of Jews, and numerous segments of the Slav population which were regarded by the Nazis as undesirable. I will show that it was the policy of the German Armed Forces to behave with the utmost severity to the civilian population of the occupied territories, and that its military operations, particularly against Partisans, were so conducted as to advance the Nazi policies to which I have referred.

I will show that they supported, assisted and acted in co- operation with the S.S. groups to which reference has been made in the presentation by Major Farr and Colonel Storey.

I do not plan to make a full or even partial showing of War Crimes on the Eastern front. That will be done by the Soviet delegation. Nor do I plan to retrace the ground covered by Colonel Storey and Major Farr during their presentation of the evidence against the S.S., S.D. and Gestapo, except to the extent necessary to clarify the relations between these organisations and the German Armed Forces, and to demonstrate their close collaboration in the occupied territories of Eastern Europe.

[Page 12]

The first document to which I will make reference is Document C-50, which will be Exhibit USA 554, and it will show that these policies of severity were determined upon and made official even before the invasion of the Soviet Union took place. This document consists of an order by Hitler, dated 13th May, 1941, and two covering transmittal sheets of subsequent date. I ask the Tribunal to note, on Page 4 of the translation, that the order is signed by Keitel, the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, and also to note the distribution, which appears at the foot of the second sheet, showing the distribution to the principal staff sections. The order itself begins on the third page, and that is where I propose to read. The document is entitled "Order concerning the exercise of martial jurisdiction and procedure in the area 'Barbarossa' and special military measures."
"The application of martial law aims, in the first place, at maintaining discipline.

The fact that the operational areas in the East are so far-flung, the battle strategy which this necessitates, and the peculiar qualities of the enemy, confront the courts martial with problems which, being short-staffed, they cannot solve while hostilities are in progress, and until some degree of pacification has been achieved in the conquered areas, unless jurisdiction is confined, in the first instance, to its main task.

This is possible only if the troops take ruthless action themselves, against any threat from the enemy population.

For these reasons I herewith issue the following order effective for the area 'Barbarossa' (Area of Operations, Army Rear Area, and Area of Political Administration): I. Treatment of offences committed by Enemy Civilians.

1. Until further notice the military courts and the courts martial will not be competent for crimes committed by enemy civilians.

2. Guerrillas should be disposed of ruthlessly by the military, whether they are fighting or in flight.

3. Likewise all other attacks by enemy civilians on the Armed Forces its members and employees, are to be suppressed at once by the military, using the most extreme methods, until the assailants are destroyed.

4. Where such measures have been neglected or were not at first possible, persons suspected of criminal action will be brought at once before an officer. This officer will decide whether they are to be shot.

On the orders of an officer with the powers of, at least, a Battalion Commander, collective drastic measures will be taken without delay against localities from which cunning or malicious attacks are made on the Armed Forces, if circumstances do not permit of a quick identification of individual offenders.

5. It is expressly forbidden to keep suspects in custody in order to hand them over to the courts after the reinstatement of civil courts.

6. The Commanders-in-Chief of the Army Groups may, by agreement with the competent Naval and Air Force Commanders, reintroduce military jurisdiction for civilians, in areas which are sufficiently pacified.

For the area of the Political Administration this order will be given by the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.

II. Treatment of offence committed against inhabitants by members of the Wehrmacht and its employees.
1. With regard to offences committed against enemy civilians by members of the Wehrmacht and its employees, prosecution is not obligatory, even where the act is at the same time a military crime or offence.

2. When judging such offences, it must be borne in mind, whatever the circumstances, that the collapse of Germany in 1918, the subsequent

[Page 13]

sufferings of the German people and the fight against National Socialism which cost the blood of innumerable supporters of the movement, were caused primarily by Bolshevik influence and that no German has forgotten this fact.

3. Therefore, the judicial authority will decide in such cases whether disciplinary action is indicated, or whether legal proceedings are necessary. In the case of offences against inhabitants it will order a court martial only if maintenance of discipline or security of the forces call for such a measure. This applies, for instance, to serious offences originating in lack of self-control in sexual matters, or in a criminal disposition, and to those offences which indicate that the troops are threatening to get out of hand. Offences which have resulted in senseless destruction of billets or supplies or other captured material, to the disadvantage of our forces, should as a rule be judged no less severely.

The order to institute proceedings requires in every single case the signature of the judicial authority.

4. Extreme caution is indicated in assessing the credibility of statements made by enemy civilians.

III. Responsibility of Military Commanders within their sphere of competence: Military Commanders are personally responsible for seeing that:
1. Every commissioned officer of the units under their command is instructed promptly and in the most emphatic manner on principles set out under (1) above.

2. Their legal advisers are notified promptly of these instructions and of verbal information in which the political intentions of the High Command were explained to Commanders-in-Chief.

3. Only those court sentences are confirmed which are in accordance with the political intentions of the High Command.

IV. Security.

Once the camouflage is lifted, this decree will be treated as 'Most Secret.'"

Your Lordship, the next document will be C-148, Exhibit USA 555. Less than three months after the invasion of the Soviet Union, the instructions which I have just read were amplified and made even more drastic. Document C-148 is an order dated 16th September, 1941, signed by Keitel, and widely distributed, as is shown on the second sheet where the distribution is listed. This order is of general application in all theatres of war, but from its contents it is clearly of primary importance for the Eastern Front. I read, beginning at the start of the order:
"Subject: Communist Insurrection in occupied territories.

1. Since the beginning of the campaign against Soviet Russia, Communist insurrection movements have broken out everywhere in the area occupied by Germany. The type of action taken is growing from propaganda measures and attacks on individual members of the Armed Forces, to open rebellion and widespread guerrilla warfare.

It can be seen that this is a mass movement centrally directed by Moscow, which is also responsible for the apparently trivial isolated incidents in areas which otherwise have been quiet up to now.

In view of the many political and economic crises in the occupied areas, it must, moreover, be anticipated that nationalist and other circles will make full use of this opportunity of making difficulties for the German occupying forces, by associating themselves with the Communist insurrection.

[Page 14]

This creates an increasing danger to the German war effort, which shows itself chiefly in general insecurity for the occupying troops, and has already led to the withdrawal of forces to the main centres of disturbance.

2. The measures taken up to now, to deal with this general Communist insurrection movement, have proved inadequate. The Fuehrer has now given orders that we take action everywhere with the most drastic means, in order to crush the movement in the shortest possible time.

Only this course, which has always been followed successfully throughout the history of the extension of influence of great peoples, can restore order.

3. Action taken in this matter should be in accordance with the following general directions:

(a) It should be inferred, in every case of resistance to the German occupying forces, no matter what the individual circumstances, that it is of Communist origin.

(b) In order to nip these machinations in the bud, the most drastic measures should be taken immediately and on the first indication, so that the authority of the occupying forces may be maintained, and further spreading, prevented. In this connection it should be remembered that a human life, in the countries concerned, frequently counts for nothing, and a deterrent effect can be attained only by unusual severity. The death penalty for fifty to one hundred Communists should generally be regarded in these cases as suitable atonement for the death of one German soldier. The way in which sentences are carried out should still further increase the deterrent effect.

The reserve course of action, that of imposing relatively lenient penalties, and of being content, for deterrent purposes, with the threat of more severe measures, does not accord with these principles and should not be followed."

Unless the Court desires the next paragraph read, I will pass to Page 2, at the very end of the document, paragraph No. 4:
"The commanding officers in the occupied territories will see to it that these principles are made known without delay to all military establishments concerned in dealing with Communist measures of insurrection."
"Signed "Keitel."

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