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-Seventh Day: Thursday, 31st January, 1946
(Part 1 of 8)

[Page 299]



THE 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 morning's session on account of illness.

M. DUBOST: Before finishing, Gentlemen, I must read a few more documents concerning war prisoners.

First of all, it will be Document L-166, which we present as Exhibit RF-377, Page 65 in your document book. It concerns a note regarding pursuit planes, and summarises an interview with the Reich Marshal on 15 and 16 May 1944. Page 8, paragraph 20:

"The Reich Marshal will propose to the Fuehrer that American and British crews who fire on towns indiscriminately, on civilian trains in motion, or on soldiers dropping by parachute, shall be immediately shot on the spot."
The importance of this document need not be emphasised. It shows the guilt of the defendant Goering in reprisals against Allied military aviators brought down in Germany.

We shall now read Document R-1 17, which we submit as Exhibit RF 378.


M. DUBOST: Page 88.

Two Liberators brought down on 21 June 1944 in the district of Mecklenburg landed with their crews intact, fifteen men all told. All were shot on the pretext of attempting to escape. The documents which we present to you on Page 88 and which we submit as Exhibit RF 378 relate to this murder. They were found in the files of the headquarters of the Eleventh Luftgaukommando, and state that nine members of the crew were handed over to the local police.

The penultimate paragraph, third line:

"They were taken prisoner and handed over to the municipal police in Waren. Lieutenants Helton and Ludka were handed over on 21 June by the municipal police to the SS Understurmfuehrer and Commissar of the Criminal Police. Stamp of the Security Police in Furstenberg (Mecklenburg)."
Last paragraph:
"These seven prisoners were shot en route while attempting to escape."
Last line of the page:
"Lieutenants Helton and Ludka were also shot on the same day while attempting to escape."
Regarding the second Liberator, Page 91:
"Subject, Crash-landing of a Liberator on 21 June 1944, at 11.30 a.m." - this is the third paragraph - "six of crew shot while attempting to escape, one seriously wounded, was brought to the station hospital at Schuwrin."
Now, as Exhibit RF 379, we submit Document F-553, which the Tribunal will find on Page 101 of the document book. This document concerns the internment of war prisoners in concentration camps and extermination camps. Among the escaped prisoners a discrimination was made. If they were privates, or non-commissioned officers who had agreed to work, they were

[Page 300]

generally sent to the camp and punished in conformity with Article 47 and the following of the Geneva Convention. If they were officers or non-commissioned officers - this is a comment I am making on the document which I shall read to the Tribunal - if it was a question of officers or non- commissioned officers who refused to work they were handed over to the police and, in general, murdered without trial.

One understands the aim of this discrimination. Those French commissioned officers who, in spite of the pressure of the German authorities, refused to work in German war industry, had a very high conception of their patriotic duty. Their attempt to escape, therefore, created against them a kind of presumption of inadaptability to the Nazi Order, and they had to be eliminated. Extermination of these patriots assumed a systematic character from the beginning of 1944; and the responsibility of Keitel is unquestionably involved in this extermination, as he approved it if he did not specifically order it.

The document which the Tribunal has before it is a letter of protest by General Berard, Head of the French Delegation, to the German Armistice Commission, addressed to the German General Vogl, the chief of the said commission. It deals specifically with information reaching France concerning the extermination of escaped prisoners.

First paragraph, fourth line: "This note takes notice of a German organisation independent of the Wehrmacht, under whose authority fall escaped prisoners."

This note was addressed on 29 April 1944 by the commandant of OFLAG X-C. Page 102:

"Captain Lussus of OFLAG X-C," declares General Berard to the German Armistice Commission, "and Lieutenant Girot, also of OFLAG X-C, who had made an attempt to escape on 27 April 1944, were recaptured in the immediate vicinity by the camp guard.

"On 23 June 1944 the French PW liaison officer of OFLAG X-C received two funeral urns containing the ashes of these two officers. The commandant of the camp declared that no information could be given, and the French authorities remain ignorant of the date, place or circumstances of the deaths of Captain Lussus and Lieutenant Girot."

General Berard pointed out at the same time to the German Armistice Commission that the note - which the Tribunal will find on Page 104 - had been communicated by the commandant of OFLAG X-C to the French PW liaison officer responsible for his comrades at that camp.
"You will bring to the attention of your comrades the fact that there exists, for the control of people moving about illicitly, a German organisation which extends its activity over all zones of war from Poland to the Spanish frontier. Every escaped prisoner who is recaptured and found to be in possession of civilian goods, false papers, and identity cards and photographs, falls under the authority of this organisation. What becomes of him, I cannot tell you. Warn your comrades that this matter is particularly serious."
The significance of the last two lines becomes only too clear in the case of the two urns of the escaped officers, handed to the French liaison officer of the camp.

Our colleagues of the Soviet prosecution will present the methods by which the escapes of the officers from the Sagan camp were dealt with.

THE PRESIDENT: Was there any answer to this complaint? What have you just been reading, as I understand it, is a complaint made by the French General, Berard, to the German head of the Armistice Commission, is that right?

M. DUBOST: Mr. President, I do not know if there was an answer. What I know is that the archives in Vichy at the time of the Liberation were in part looted and in part destroyed through military action. If we had an answer

[Page 301]

it would have been found in the Vichy archives, for the documents we present now are the documents of the German archives of the German Armistice Commission. As to the French archives, I don't. know what has become of them. In any case it is possible they may have disappeared as a result of military action.

Will the Tribunal pardon me? I was about to inform it that my Soviet colleagues would present the repressive measures employed at Sagan camp against attempts to escape.

We submit as Exhibit RF 320, Document F-672, which the Tribunal will find on Page 115 of the document book. This is a report from the Service for War Prisoners and Deportees, dated 9 January 1946, which relates to the deportation to Buchenwald of twenty French war prisoners. This report must be considered as an authentic document, as well as the reports of war prisoners which are annexed thereto. On Page 116, the Tribunal may read the report of Claude Petit, former chief spokesman in Stalag 6-G.

"In September 1943" - and I am quoting the first paragraph -"as French civilian workers in Germany and France, transformed war prisoners" - transformed into workers is to be understood - "were deprived of all spiritual help, having not one priest among them, Lieutenant Piard, head chaplain of Stalag 6-G, after having spoken with the chaplain of the war prisoners, Abbe Rodhain, decided to transform into workers six war- prisoner priests, so that they could carry out their religious duties, among the French civilians."
I quote only three lines of the following paragraph; the first:
"This transformation of priests, which was difficult to accomplish, since the Gestapo did not authorise the presence of chaplains among civilian workers ... these priests and a few scouts organised a group of Catholic Action and a Scout group."
On Page 157, paragraph 3:
"From the beginning of 1944 the priests felt they were being watched by the Gestapo in their various activities."
The following paragraph:
"At the end of July 1944, the six priests were arrested almost simultaneously and taken to the prison of Brauweiler, near Cologne."
Page 116, first and second paragraphs :
"The same happened to the scouts."
I quote:
"Against this flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention I took numerous steps and made numerous protests, in order that the prisoners of war arrested by the Gestapo might be handed over to the military authorities. I likewise asked to be told the reason for their arrest."
Fifth paragraph:
"By reason of the rapid advance of the Allies who were approaching Aachen, all prisoners of Brauweiler were taken to Cologne ... "
(Dr. Stahmer, Counsel for defendant Goering, approached the lectern.)

M. DUBOST: Mr. President, before allowing the defence counsel to interrupt me, allow me to finish reading this document.


M. DUBOST: Thank you, Mr. President. From the last sentences of this, paragraph the Tribunal will learn that the German military authorities themselves took steps in order to learn the fate of these prisoners.

"The military authorities having no knowledge thereof, immediately wrote to Buchenwald, but received no answer. At the beginning of March, Major Bramkamp, Chief of the Abwehr was to go personally to Buchenwald."

[Page 302]

On Pages 120-121 the Tribunal will find the list of the prisoners who thus disappeared.

Finally - Page 122 - a confirmation of this testimony by M. Souche, confidential agent of Kommando 624, who in paragraph 3 writes:

"Certain war prisoners transformed into workers, and French civilian workers, had organised in Cologne a group of 'Catholic Action' under the direction of the transformed war-prisoner priests, Pannier and Cleton."
Finally, Page 123 - and this is the end of my quotation:
"The arrests began with members of the 'Catholic Action'" and the accusations were " anti-German manoeuvres."
THE PRESIDENT: I do not know what Dr. Stahmer's objection is.

DR. STAHMER (Counsel for Goering): We are not in a position to follow the expose of the French prosecutor. First of all, the translation is not very good. Some sentences are left out. Especially, wrong numbers are mentioned. For instance, 612 has been mentioned. I have it here. It is quite a different document. We have not the document books and therefore we cannot follow the page citations. My colleagues also complain that they are not in a position to follow the proceedings with this manner of presentation.

THE PRESIDENT: May I see your document?

(It is handed up to the Bench.)

DR. STAHMER: This number was just mentioned and is confirmed by the other gentlemen.

THE PRESIDENT: The document which M. Dubost was reading was 672. The document you have got there is a different number.

DR. STAHMER: But this number was given us over the microphone, and not only I but the other counsel heard the same number. And not only this number, but all the numbers have been mentioned incorrectly.

Another difficulty is that we have not the document book. Page 118 has been referred to, but the number of the page does not mean anything to us. We cannot follow at this rate.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, I think the trouble really arises from the fact that you give the numbers too fast and the numbers are very often wrongly translated, not only into German but sometimes into English. It is very difficult for the interpreters to pick up all these numbers. First of all, you give the number of the document, then the number of the exhibit, then the page of the document book - and that means that the interpreters have got to translate many numbers spoken very quickly.

It is essential that the defendants should be able to follow the document, and as I understand it, they have not got the document books in the same shape we have. It is only the way we can follow But we have them now in this particular document book by page, and therefore it is absolutely essential to go slowly.

M. DUBOST: Mr. President, the document books have all been handed to the defence. All the documents have been presented to the defence.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you telling us that document books have been handed to the defence in the same shape they are handed to us, let us say, with page numbers on them? Speaking for myself, that is the only way I am able to follow the document. You mentioned Page 115 and that does show me where the document is. If I had not that page, I shouldn't be able to find the document.

M. DUBOST: Mr. President, I announced at the same time RF- 380, which is the number of the exhibit; F-672 is the classification number. All our documents bear a classification number. On the other hand, it was not possible to hand to the defence a document book with the pages numbered, like the one the Tribunal has, for it is not submitted in the same language. It is submitted

[Page 303]

in German and the pages are not in the same place. There is not an absolute identity of page numbering between the German document book and yours.

THE PRESIDENT: I am telling you the difficulties under which the defendants' counsel are working, and if we had simply a number of documents without the page numbering, we should be under a similar difficulty. And it is a very great difficulty. Therefore you must go very slowly in giving the identification of the document.

M. DUBOST: I will conform to the wishes of the Tribunal, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the document being read was Document 672.

DR. STAHMER: We cannot find Document 672. We have 673. We have nothing but loose sheets, and we have to hunt through them first to find the number. We have number 673 but we have not yet found number 672 among our documents. It is very difficult for us to follow a citation, because it takes us so much time to find the numbers even if they have been mentioned correctly.

THE PRESIDENT: I can understand the difficulty. Will you continue, M. Dubost, and do as I say, going very slowly so as to give the defendants' counsel as far as possible, the opportunity to find the document. And I think that you ought to do something satisfactory, if you can, to make it possible for them to find that document. An index, for instance, giving the order in which the documents are set out.

M. DUBOST. Three days ago, two document books in French, with pages numbered like the books which the Tribunal has before it, were handed to the defence. We were only able to hand two to them, for reasons of a technical nature. But at the same time we handed to the defence a sufficient number of documents in German to enable each defence counsel to have his file in German. Does the Tribunal ask me to collate the pages of the French document which we submit to the defence with the pages of a document book which we set up, seeing that the defence can do it and has the time to do it? Three days ago the two French document books were handed to the defence. They had the possibility of comparing the French texts with the German texts to make sure that our translations were correct and to prepare themselves for the sessions.

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