The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
21st January to 1st February, 1946

Forty-Sixth Day: Wednesday, 30th January, 1946
(Part 3 of 7)

[Page 277]

THE PRESIDENT: I am just telling you that I rather think this may be the document, if it begins with "1,357 English prisoners of war... " Does it begin in that way?

M. DUBOST: The document which you have before you, Mr. President, deals

[Page 278]

with the transfer of British prisoners of war. The one about which I wished to speak and from which I wanted to read to you deals with the transfer of French prisoners. I think that it is not necessary for me to lengthen the proceedings by showing the Tribunal that the British and the French prisoners were treated in the same way. I shall, therefore, restrict myself to your document.
"1,357 British war prisoners of all ranks were marched out of Stalag 3 in three columns on 28 January, 1945, and were thereafter marched for distances varying from 17 to 31 kilometres per day to Spremberg, where they were entrained for Luckenwalde. Food, water, medical supplies were more or less non-existent throughout the trip. At least three prisoners had to be left at Muskau." - on the bottom of page, three lines before the end:

"On the 31st they covered the distance of thirty-one kilometres to Muskau. It is small wonder that at this stage three men, first lieutenants Kelly and Wise, and W.O Burton collapsed and had to be left in the hospital in Muskau."

Page 2, at the end of the document: "On the March," -the last paragraph -
"apart from the Red Cross parcels already referred to, the only rations issued were one loaf of bread and one issue of barley soup per man. The supply of water is described as 'haphazard.'
There were fifteen who escaped.

The camp conditions of the Franco-Belgian column were even more rigorous. The camps were organised in a manner which was contrary to all the rules of hygiene. The prisoners were crammed into a very narrow space. They had no heating or water. There were thirty to forty men in a room. (Boudot's statement).

M. Boudot's statement is to be found in the report on prisoners and deportees which was also handed to you the other day by M. Herzog. I suppose that the Tribunal has kept its documents of last Thursday -

THE PRESIDENT: We have kept these documents, but if we had them on the Bench before us you would not be able to see us.

M. DUBOST: Similar statements are found in the Red Cross report. Berger, who was in charge, under Himmler, from 1 October, 1944, of prisoner-of-war camps, has admitted, in the course of his interrogation, that the food supply of prisoners of war was entirely insufficient. The Tribunal will find on Page 3 of the document book, which is before it, an extract from Berger's interrogation. The original is submitted as Exhibit RF 355.

Second paragraph: "I visited a camp south of Berlin, the name of which I cannot remember at the moment. I shall perhaps remember later. At that time it was obvious to me that the food conditions were absolutely inadequate, and a violent argument between Himmler and myself arose. Himmler was violently opposed to continuing the distribution of Red Cross parcels in the prisoner-of-war camps at the same rate as before. As for me, I thought that in this case we should be faced with serious problems regarding the men's health."
We present Document 826-PS, as Exhibit RF 356. This document was issued by the Fuehrer's Headquarters. This is a report on a visit to Norway and Denmark. It is on Page 7 of your document book. Paragraph 3:
"All the prisoners of war in Norway receive an amount of food which enables them just to live without working. However, the cutting down of trees demands such hard work on the part of these prisoners of war that, if the food remains the same, a considerable lessening of production must soon be expected."
This note applies to the situation of the 82,000 prisoners of war who were held in Norway, 30,000 of whom were employed on very hard construction

[Page 279]

work which was being carried out by the Todt organisation. This is found in the first paragraph of Page 7.

I now present to the Tribunal Document 820-PS, Page 9 in the document book. It deals with the establishment of prisoner- of-war camps in the regions exposed to aerial bombardment. It was issued by Headquarters. It is dated 18.8.1943. It is addressed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force to the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht. We submit it as Exhibit RF 358, and we shall read to the Tribunal paragraph 3:

"The Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force, proposes to set up prisoner of war camps in the residential quarters of the cities in order to obtain a certain protection."
I omit a paragraph.
"In view of the above considerations, there is a question of setting up such camps immediately in a large number of towns where there is danger of air attacks. As the discussions with the City of Frankfurt ... have shown, these towns will support and hasten the construction of the camps by all means at their disposal."
The last paragraph:
"So far, there are in Germany about 8,000 prisoners-of- war who are British and American airmen (without counting those in hospital). By evacuating the camps actually in existence, which might be used to house bombed-out people, we should immediately have at our disposal prisoners of war for a fairly large number of such camps."
This refers to the camps set up in bombed areas and areas which were particularly exposed.

On Page 10 the Tribunal will find a document issued by the Fuehrer's Headquarters, dated 3-9-1943, still dealing with the establishment of these new prisoner of war camps for British and American airmen. We submit this document as Exhibit RF 359.

"(1) The Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force, is planning the establishment of other camps for Air Force prisoners, for these are coming in at the rate of more than 1,000 per month, and the space provided at the moment is becoming insufficient. The C in C Air Force proposes the establishment of these camps within residential quarters of the towns - as this will constitute at the same time a protection for the populations - and to transfer all the existing camps, where there are about 8,000 British and American Air Force prisoners, into larger towns threatened by enemy aircraft.

(2) The Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht, Chief of War Prisoners Department has approved this project in principle."

Page 12 of the document book which the Tribunal has before it, is Document F-551, which we shall submit as Exhibit RF 360. It deals with the condemnation of prisoners of war in violation of Article 60 and the following articles of the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention provides that the protecting power shall be advised of judicial prosecutions that are made against prisoners of war, and will have the right to be represented at the trial.

THE PRESIDENT: Where are you? We are on Page 12 but we have lost the place.

M. DUBOST: In the middle of Page 12 - the practical application of Articles 60-66. I am now about to read, or rather, I am commenting on this order.

I have explained to the Tribunal that Article 60 and the following articles of the Geneva Convention provide that the protecting power shall be advised of judicial prosecutions against war prisoners. The document which we submit as Exhibit RF 360 shows that these provisions were violated. We read on the first line

[Page 280]

"In practice, the application of Articles 60 and 66, particularly paragraph 2 of Article 66, of the Convention of 1929, concerning the treatment or prisoners of war, meets with serious difficulties. For the application of a severe penal jurisdiction it is intolerable that actually for the most serious offences - as for instance, attacking the guards - the death sentence cannot be executed until three months after its notification to the protecting power. The discipline of prisoners of war is bound to suffer from this."
I pass over the rest of the paragraph. (Page 12.)
"The following regulation is proposed: (a) The French should be made to feel confident that the trials of prisoners of war in German hands, will, as formerly, be carried out thoroughly and conscientiously. (b) Germany will designate a defence counsel and an interpreter. (c) In the case of a death sentence" (bottom of page 12) "a certain period of time shall elapse after notification has been be given to this effect."
On top of Page 13
"In this respect Germany must in any case reserve the right, even if this is not explicitly stipulated, to carry out the sentence immediately in periods of crises...."
Third paragraph:
"There is no question of authorising France, who might perhaps refer to Article 62, paragraph 3 (P.O.W.) of the Geneva Convention, to send a representative to the sessions of the German Military Tribunals."
We possess an example of the violation of Article 60 and those following of the Geneva Convention in the report of the Netherlands Government, which the Tribunal will find on Page 14 of the document book.

THE PRESIDENT: I think we better break off now.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours)

MARSHAL OF THE COURT: May it please the Court, I desire to announce that the defendants Kaltenbrunner and Seyss-Inquart will be absent from this afternoon's session due to illness.

THE PRESIDENT: I have an announcement to make.

When the attention of the Tribunal was called by the defendant Hess to the absence of his counsel, the Tribunal directed that the presentation of the individual case against Hess be postponed, so that counsel could be present when it was presented. So far as the cross-examination of witnesses who testified to matters affecting the general case and not against Hess specifically is concerned, it is the view of the Tribunal that the cross-examination conducted by counsel representing the defendants equally interested with Hess in this feature of the case, was sufficient to protect his interests, and the witnesses will therefore not be recalled.

The Tribunal has received a letter from the defendant Hess dated 30 of January, 1946, to the effect that he is dissatisfied with the services of counsel who has been appearing for him, and does not wish to be represented by him further, but wishes to represent himself.

The Tribunal is of the opinion that, having elected, in conformity with Article 16 of the Charter, to be represented by counsel, the defendant Hess ought not to be allowed at this stage of the Trial to dispense with the services of counsel and defend himself. The matter is of importance to the Tribunal, as well as to the defendant, and the Tribunal is of the opinion that it is not in the interests of the defendant that he should be unrepresented by counsel.

The Tribunal has therefore appointed Dr. Stahmer to represent the defendant Hess, in place of Dr. Rohrscheidt.

Yes, M. Dubost.

[Page 281]

M. DUBOST: I beg the Tribunal to excuse me; I was completing the work which they had requested me to do in relation to concentration camps. I shall present to the Tribunal in a few moments, when I have completed the presentation of the question of prisoners of war, the end of the French presentation concerning concentration camps, which consists of very few matters; for we shall only have a few documents to cite since, subject to such counter-evidence as the defence may bring, the systematic repetition of the same methods seems, so far, sufficiently established.

We were at the point of reading a document of the Dutch Government, which has already been presented to the Tribunal under the number 324, and which establishes that a protest was lodged, following the execution and the secret condemnation to death of three officers: Lieutenants H. J. B. Ten Bosch, Braat and Thibo.

I think that the document to which I alluded this morning, which is the official report of the French Government concerning prisoners, is now in the hands of the Tribunal. It is the document submitted by M. Herzog under the number 46.

I ask the Tribunal to excuse me, as I cannot present this document again. I have no more copies.

It is evident from this document that the Nazis had a systematic policy of intimidation. They strove to keep the greatest possible number of prisoners of war in order to be able, if necessary, to exercise effective pressure on the countries from which these prisoners came. This policy was exercised by the illegal capture of prisoners, and also by the refusal, which was systematically upheld, to repatriate the prisoners whose state of health would have justified this measure.

Concerning the illegal capture of prisoners of war, we can cite the example of French prisoners.

The report of the Ministry of Prisoners of War and Deportees, to which we refer, indicates, on Page 4, that in 1940 certain French military formations laid down their arms at the time of the armistice, under an assurance given by the German Army that troops who had thus surrendered would not be taken into captivity. These troops were, nevertheless, captured. The Alpine Army had crossed the Rhone in order to be demobilised, and was West of the region of Vienne. They were taken prisoner and were sent to Germany until the end of July, 1940.

Moreover, non-combatant formations of special civilians were led into captivity and imprisoned in accordance with Himmler's orders, which directed that all Frenchmen of military age were to be seized indiscriminately. In short, it was only through special reports, and the private initiative of Unit Commanders, that not all Frenchmen were transferred to Germany.

Because of the enormous number of prisoners, and the difficulties that faced the German Army in taking all those men to Germany, the German Army decided, in 1940, to create what they called 'Front Stalags.'

The promise had been made to the de facto French Government, which was established after the armistice, that soldiers who were kept in these "Front Stalags" would be kept in France. Yet they began to be sent to Germany in October 1940.

In an additional report appended to the document book which is before you, the Ministry of Prisoners of War and Deportees points out the irregular capture of the troops of the fortified sector of Haguenau, the 22nd RIF, the 81st BCF, the 51st and 58th Infantry Regiments and a North African division. It is Document 668-F, Exhibit RF 361, the pages of which are not numbered. It is appended to the document book. I quote the document:

"Troops of the fortified sector of Haguenau - the 22nd RIF and the 81st BCF - fought until 25 June, 1.30, and only ceased firing

[Page 282]

after an agreement between the Colonel in charge of the sector and the German Generals, an agreement which guaranteed the troops the honours of war, and notably that they would not be made prisoners. The 51st and 58th Infantry Divisions, as well as a North African Division, withdrew towards Toul only after an agreement, signed on 22 June, between the French General Dubuisson and the German General Andreas, at Thuille aux Groseilles, (Meurthe et Moselle); an agreement guaranteeing military honours and confirming that the troops would not be imprisoned."
THE PRESIDENT: What official document does this document come from?

M. DUBOST: From the Ministry of Prisoners of War and Deportees. It is an additional report which was made by the French Government.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got any number for that report?

M. DUBOST: The French number is 668-F. A copy of the document is included in the file which is appended to the document book submitted to the Tribunal this morning. We submit it under the number -

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got the report on the captivity?

M. DUBOST: This report will be submitted to you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: It appears to be Appendix No. 2 to the report on the captivity, for the attention of the French Delegation to the Court of Justice at Nuremberg.

M. DUBOST: That is correct, sir. The information which I have just read to the Tribunal consists of extracts from a note from Darlan to Ambassador Scapini on 22 April, 1941.

THE PRESIDENT: But M. Dubost, is there anything to show that it is an official document, such as this book?

M. DUBOST: This document, Mr. President, bears no relation to the one which I am quoting.

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