The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Eighth Day: Wednesday, February 13, 1946
(Part 8 of 19)


The former Chief of Staff of the O.K.H., Franz Halder, interrogated on 31st October, 1945, testified -- I submit to the Tribunal an excerpt from this document, Exhibit USSR 341:

"Witness: Prior to the attack on Russia, the Fuehrer called a conference of all the commanders and persons connected with the Supreme Command on the question of the forthcoming attack on Russia. I cannot recall the exact date of this conference. I no longer know whether it took place before or after the invasion of Yugoslavia. At this conference the Fuehrer stated that the methods used in the war against the Russians will have to be different from those used in the war against the West."
I beg your pardon, I have forgotten to tell you that the place which I quoted from was on Page 24 of your document book.

[Page 311]

"Investigating Officer: 'What else did he say?'

"Witness: 'He said that the struggle between Russia and Germany is a Russian struggle. He stated that since the Russians were not signatories to the Hague Convention, the treatment of their prisoners of war does not have to follow the articles of the Convention.'"

DR. NELTE (counsel for defendant Keitel): Your Honour, General Halder is in the military prison here at Nuremberg, and he is a very important witness, not only to the testimony at hand, but also in general. I believe, according to our principles, which have been formulated by the High Tribunal in connection with Article 21 of the Charter, it might be important to hear this witness personally rather than use written testimony and I ask the Tribunal to decide this question.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, did you wish to make any answer to Dr. Nelte's request?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: With the permission of the Tribunal, I will submit to him my consideration in this case.

THE PRESIDENT: Proceed, please.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The testimony of Halder is of importance to us in one respect only, namely, that he states the fact of a special conference called by Hitler before the war; a conference at which the question of the treatment of Russian prisoners of war attracted particular attention. This fact also finds confirmation in other testimonies which were submitted by us to this Tribunal, and, therefore, I think that there is no reason and no need to examine this witness, since this interrogation may cause further delay, as it will refer to this question only, and the German defence may ask unnecessary questions. In case the German defence would consider it advisable to request the Tribunal to bring witness Halder here for cross-examination, it should be proper for the defence to submit to the Tribunal, in accordance with established procedure, an application and explain for what reason it wants to cross-examine witness Halder. The Tribunal would then have occasion to discuss this application and to grant it should they deem it proper to do so.

That is all I wanted to point out concerning this question.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal considers that if the interrogation of General Halder is to be used, and it has been used, that General Halder must be brought for cross- examination, provided it is true that he is in Nuremberg.

When a witness is called he is liable to cross-examination and the only reason for allowing interrogations to be used is on account of the difficulty of bringing witnesses to Nuremberg. Therefore, if an interrogation is allowed to be used and the witness is in Nuremberg, the witness must be produced for cross- examination -- I mean, of course, at a time which is convenient to counsel.

Colonel Pokrovsky, if this witness, General Halder, is in Nuremberg, you will have him brought here at a time which is convenient to you during the presentation of your case.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: With the permission of the Court, we will finally find out where Halder is at the present time and, if he is really in Nuremberg, he will be produced as a witness.


COLONEL POKROVSKY: We must here note another Fascist lie. Hitler was intentionally misrepresenting facts. That the Soviet Union had pledged to follow the statutes of the Hague Convention is generally known. Even the criminal code of the Soviet Union provides for the defence of the rights of prisoners of war, in accordance with International Law, and those guilty of violations are considered criminally responsible.

The Note of the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs in the U.S.S.R., Mr. V. M. Molotov, on 27th April, 1942, once again mentions the obligations of The

[Page 312]

Hague Convention which the Soviet Union had pledged to follow. To that Note I have already referred.

Continuing, I shall again quote from Halder's deposition concerning Hitler's speech. You will find it on Page 24:

"Furthermore, he (Hitler) said that in view of the political level of the Russian troops (at this point several dots follow in the original), to be brief -- he said that the so-called Commissars should not be considered prisoners of war."
It is impossible not to remark here that, owing to the superior political consciousness of the Red Army soldiers, the Hitlerites saw a Commissar or a Communist in almost every prisoner of war. Then there is recorded the following question of the investigating officer and the reply to it:
"Investigating Officer: Did the Fuehrer say anything about an order which should be issued on the subject?

"Witness: What I have just said was his order. He said that he wanted it carried out even if no written order followed."

After Halder's deposition, in the document book on your table, there is an extract from the deposition of the former Deputy Chief of the Operations Section of O.K.W. headquarters, General Warlimont, dated 12th November, 1945. He was testifying on oath before Leiutenant[sic]-Colonel Hinkel of the American Army. This document is the result of work accomplished by our American colleagues. The American prosecution has kindly placed this document at our disposal, which we in turn submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 263(a). I think the defence counsel wished to submit another request to the Tribunal. I therefore cede my place.

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, regarding General Warlimont, we have the same reasons which I just mentioned regarding General Halder. General Warlimont is also present in Nuremberg and is at your disposal for examination in the court.

THE PRESIDENT: What do you want to request now?

DR. NELTE: My application consists in the request to disallow the use of the document which the Soviet prosecutor has just wished to read out loud, and to direct that the witness, Warlimont, now present in Nuremberg, be called as a witness.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has just ruled that the interrogation of General Halder may be used, but if it is used, and it is being used, he must be submitted for cross- examination by the other counsel for the defendants. What more do you want?

DR. NELTE: I am not speaking about General Halder but about General Warlimont.

THE PRESIDENT: I thought we had already ruled upon General Warlimont; that he had to be called -- that is, only yesterday or the day before.

DR. NELTE: I believe that this ruling has escaped the memory of the Soviet prosecutor, otherwise he would not be reading this document out loud but would be introducing General Warlimont to the Court in person.

THE PRESIDENT: I think the ruling of the Tribunal was that the prosecutor should be entitled to use the interrogation, but if he did so, he must submit the witness for cross- examination. There fore, the Soviet prosecutor is entitled to read the interrogation and General Warlimont will then be produced for the purpose of cross examination.

DR. NELTE: Is he obliged to do this or may he use his own discretion?

THE PRESIDENT: I suppose he might use his own discretion and call the witness if he wanted to and not put in the interrogation.

[Page 313]

You see, Dr. Nelte, the position of the Tribunal is this. If the prosecuting counsel chooses to call the witness and not to use the interrogation, of course, he calls the witness, examines the witness, and the witness is liable to cross- examination by defence counsel. If, on the other hand, the prosecuting counsel wishes to use the interrogation, which he already has, he can do so, but if the witness is available in or near Nuremberg, he must still be produced for cross-examination.

The discretion which counsel for the prosecution has is as to whether they use an interrogation which they already have or call the witness. But in either case, the witness, if he is here, must be produced for cross-examination.

DR. NELTE: The witnesses, General Halder and General Warlimont, are both in Nuremberg and at our disposal. I merely wish to know whether the date when he is to be presented depends on the discretion of the chief prosecutor. We are interested in the possibility of holding the cross- examination when the prosecution has read out the written statement.

THE PRESIDENT: I thought that was a matter you might settle with the prosecuting counsel as to whether you wish to cross- examine him directly after the interrogation has been presented, or after a short delay. If I were to say that he is to be cross-examined immediately after the interrogation has been put in, probably defence counsel would say he wanted time to consider the interrogation. But you can surely settle that with Colonel Pokrovsky.

DR. NELTE: Then I will deal with Colonel Pokrovsky on this matter. Thank you.

PRESIDENT: Please proceed.

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