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 7 of 10)

[COL. TAYLOR continues]

[Page 27]

Q. Did the highest Military Leaders issue instructions that anti-Partisan operations were to be conducted with severity?

A. Yes.

Q. Did the highest Military Authorities issue any detailed instructions concerning the methods to be used in anti- Partisan warfare?

A. No.

Q. What was the result, in the occupied territories, of this lack of detailed directives from above?

A. Since orders proved insufficient, a wild state of anarchy resulted in all anti-Partisan operations.

[Page 28]

Q. In your opinion, were the measures taken in anti-Partisan operations far more severe than the circumstances warranted, or were they not?

A. Since there were no definite orders and since the Lower Command was forced to act independently, many undertakings were executed according to the character of the officer in command and to the quality of the troops. These, naturally, varied very considerably. I am of opinion that operations on numerous occasions, not only failed in their purpose, but they very often overshot their mark.

Q. Did these measures result in the unnecessary killing of large numbers of the civilian population?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you report these excessive measures to the commanders of the Army Groups and other Wehrmacht officers with whom you collaborated?

A. These measures were generally known. There was no necessity to make any special report, since every operation was directly reported in each individual case and in its every detail, and was known to every responsible leader.

Q. Were any effective steps taken by the highest military authorities or by any commanders of Army Groups to suppress these excesses?

A. I remember that General von Schenkendorff, in particular, made numerous reports in this connection. He discussed them with me, and later we both forwarded them through our service channels.

Q. Did these reports by General von Schenkendorff have any effect?

A. No.

Q. Why not?

A. Quartermaster General Wagner certainly attempted to effect a change by imposing on the troops a more rigid line of conduct, but he did not succeed in his purpose.

Q. Was an order ever issued, and that by the Highest Authorities, that German soldiers who had committed offences against the civilian population were not to be punished in the military courts?

A. Yes, a similar order was given.

Q. Did this order prove an obstacle to correcting the excesses of the troops?

A. Yes, in my opinion this order prevented the only possible way of dealing with the excesses, since you can educate the soldiery only if you wield disciplinary powers, if you have jurisdiction over the troops and are able to do something to check the excesses.

Q. What decorations did you win during the War?

A. In this war I received the Clusters to the Iron Cross I and II, the German Cross in gold and the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross.

COLONEL TAYLOR: Your Lordship, the witness is available for examination by others.

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

COLONEL POKROVSKY: If you will permit me, I wish to ask a series of questions:

(Direct examination by Colonel Pokrovsky.)

Q. Which forces of the Police and S.S. were at your disposal in 1941 and 1942, when you were Chief Leader of the Police and S.S. in the Rear Zone of the Central Army Group?

A. There were directly under my command, in 1941, one Police Regiment of the Regular Police, and occasionally, for about two or three months at a time, one S.S. Cavalry Brigade.

Q. Was the Einsatzgruppe B, headed by Nebe, under your command?

A. No.

Q. Did you or did you not receive Nebe's reports?

A. Not directly, but I saw to it that they reached me eventually.

Q. What do you know of the activities of Einsatzgruppe B?

[Page 29]

A. Einsatzgruppe B was in Smolensky, where it operated exactly like all the other Einsatz Groups. We heard everywhere, in conversations, that the Jews were being rounded up and sent to the ghettos.

Q. Did you report to the Commands of the Operational Groups, on the activities of Einsatzgruppe B?

A. I learned about their activities directly through Schenkendorff, who was at the head of Army Group Centre.

Q. Did you know of the order issued by the Commander of the Sixth Army, General Reichenau, regarding the Partisan Movement?

A. Would you be good enough to repeat the name; was it General von Reichenau?

Q. Yes.

A. Yes, I know about that. I think it was in 1941, although it might have been in 1942; there was an order by General von Reichenau which was sent to all the Wehrmacht Commanders, and in this order he opposed the actions taken against the Jews and Partisans.

Q. In 1943 or later were there, under your command, units or companies specially selected to combat the Partisan Movement?

A. In 1943, as Chief of the anti-Partisan Movement, I had no particular authority or command, since I was Head of the Central Office, but I did lead some operations whenever the authority of two commanders overlapped.

Q. Do you know anything about the existence of a special brigade consisting of smugglers, poachers and persons released from prison?

A. Of all the troops considered suitable for anti-Partisan struggle in the beginning of 1942, one battalion, under the command of Dirlewanger was introduced into the Army Group Centre, and this battalion was gradually strengthened by the addition of reserve units until it reached the proportions, first of a regiment and, later, of a brigade. This "Dirlewanger Brigade" consisted for the greater part of previously convicted criminals, officially of so-called poachers, although there were, amongst them, authentic criminals convicted of burglary, murder, etc.

Q. How do you explain the fact that the German Army Command so willingly strengthened and increased its forces by adding to them from the ranks of criminals and directing these criminals specifically against the Partisans?

A. I am of the opinion that this step was closely connected with a speech made by Heinrich Himmler, at the beginning of 1941 prior to the campaign against Russia, when he spoke at the Weselburg of the purpose of the Russian campaign, which was, he said, to decimate the Slav population by thirty million, and that in order to achieve this purpose units of inferior calibre would have to be introduced.

Q. Have I understood you correctly when I say that the calibre of the human element, introduced by the commanders to fight the Partisans, had been given careful, prior consideration? Had they received precise instructions how to treat the population and how to act against the Partisans? I am now referring to the proposed and officially sanctioned extermination of the populace.

A. I share your opinion that this purpose was a decisive factor in the selection of certain commanders and of some quite definite formations.

Q. By what means and by what measures were Wehrmacht units brought into fight the Partisans? Were they specially recruited or were they introduced from time to time, according to some particular plan?

A. There was apparently no absolutely definite plan, but so- called large-scale operations were initiated at headquarters, planned and executed. Anti-Partisan fighting, however, was mostly of a spontaneous nature, since every lower commander was obliged to keep his own area free from Partisans, which means that he acted on his own initiative.

[Page 30]

Q. You have shown that in very many cases generals and officers of the Wehrmacht personally headed the operations against the Partisans. Can you give us some concrete facts and the names of some of the generals and officers?

A. I do not fully understand the purpose of the question. The names of commanders?

Q. You have told us that, in the course of certain operations during the struggle against the Partisans, officers and generals of the Wehrmacht conducted operations, and I now ask you if you can name some of the officers and generals?

A. I did not quite understand. Names? The idea is still not quite clear. Oh Yes! You mean the surnames of the generals. Partly. I remember General von Hartmann, in Central Russia. He either commanded a large-scale anti-Partisan operation or else led it in his capacity of highest ranking senior officer. I also remember General (Full General) Reinhardt; he had important Partisan groups in his rear zone. I should like to add that there was not a single general in the rear zone who had not participated in the struggle against the Partisans. I cannot, of course, bear in mind who had and who had not participated, but if I hear the names mentioned, I might remember if he had taken part in the anti-Partisan warfare or not.

Q. Could you tell us what undertaking had been commanded by General Ackmann?

A. No. I cannot remember that.

Q. Were there any general orders relating to prisoners of war, the civilian population or the Partisan Movement?

A. Unfortunately, there were no general instructions whatsoever to hand, which clearly stated how the Partisans or the population were to be treated. That was the complaint I made, namely, that no instructions had been issued concerning the treatment of the Partisans or even who was to be considered as a Partisan at all. When anything ever happened to the German Wehrmacht, orders were invariably missing to tell us clearly what was to be done by way of reprisals.

Q. Am I to understand that in the absence of direct orders, commanders were given a clear field and had the right to declare any person they liked a Partisan and treat him accordingly?

A. He certainly could and had to decide independently. No precise control was possible in individual cases, but the activities of all the troops introduced were constantly visible to the High Command, since in individual reports those counter-measures were scrupulously listed. This means that the number of Partisans killed in combat, the number of Partisans shot, of Partisan suspects shot, as well as the number of our own losses, had to be carefully reported. Equally careful reports had to be made on the amount of captured booty in the form of weapons, so that each leader could clearly realise how an operation worked out in practice.

Q. That means that each commander decided for himself whether there was any reason to suspect a man and to execute him?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know of any order prescribing the seizure of hostages and the burning of villages as a reprisal for abetting the Partisans?

A. No. I do not think that such orders were ever issued, and it is precisely this lack of orders that I deplore. It should, for instance, have been definitely stated how many people were to be executed for the killing of one, or of ten German soldiers.

Q. Am I to understand that if certain commanders burned villages as a punitive measure against the local population, they the commanders, would be acting on their own initiative?

A. Yes. These steps would be taken by a commander on his own initiative. His superior officers could do nothing about it, since orders emanating

[Page 31]

from the highest authorities definitely stated that if any damage were inflicted on the civilian population, no disciplinary or juridical measures could be taken.

Q. And can we assume that the same applied to the seizure of hostages?

A. Well, I consider that the question of hostages did not arise at all in the anti-Partisan struggle. In any case, I believe that the "Hostage System" was reserved exclusively for the Western Front. The term "hostage" was unknown in anti-Partisan warfare.

Q. Do you know anything about the forcible abduction and deportation to Germany of minors between 14 and 18 years of age?

A. I do not remember that in detail, but I do know that, when I was appointed Chief of anti-Partisan warfare, I welcomed the issue of an order that in future, during this struggle, Partisans and Partisan suspects would no longer be shot when arrested, but shipped to the Reich to work in the Sauckel organisation.

Q. If I understood you correctly, you replied to the question by my colleague, the American prosecutor, by saying that the struggle against the Partisan Movement was a pretext for destroying the Slav and Jewish population?

A. Yes.

Q. Was the Wehrmacht Command aware of the methods adopted for fighting the Partisan Movement and for destroying the Jewish population?

A. The methods were generally known, certainly by the military leaders. I do not, of course, know whether they were aware of the plan mentioned by Himmler.

Q. Did you personally take part in any conferences with generals of the Wehrmacht, during which the methods of anti- Partisan warfare were clearly and plainly discussed.

A. The methods of this warfare were discussed in detail and provided for, but at these discussions it was not mentioned that so-and-so many persons were to be shot. That is not at all how the matter should be understood.

Q. You have told us that the Germans intended to destroy the Slav population in order to reduce the number of Slavs to 30 million. Where did you get this figure and this order?

A. I wish to make an amendment: not to reduce to 30 million, but by 30 million. Himmler mentioned this in his speech at the Weselburg.

Q. Do you confirm the fact that actually all the measures carried out by the German commanders and by the Wehrmacht in the occupied Russian territories were directed to the sole purpose of reducing the number of Slavs and Jews by 30 million?

A. The meaning is not quite clear to me. Did the Wehrmacht know that the Slav population was to be diminished by 30 million? The sense is not clear. Would you kindly repeat the question?

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