The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
12th March to 22nd March, 1946

Eightieth Day: Wednesday, 13th March, 1946
(Part 6 of 10)

[Sir David Maxwell Fyfe continues his cross examination of Field-Marshal Albert Kesselring]

[Page 58]

Q. Well, the Tribunal has heard about that meeting so often that I am not going to ask about it. I am only getting from you the people who were there.

Now, let me remind you of another meeting. On 9th June, 1941, there was a "Conference Barbarossa" for the attack on the Soviet Union. Do you remember that? Berchtesgaden.

A. Whether it was on 9th June I do not know. But I did take part in one conference.

Q. You were there, and again, before the Russian campaign, the people who were there were the holders of these supreme positions and the Oberbefehlshaber, were they not?

A. That is correct.

Q. Including those that had territorial commands, like, for example, General von Falkenhorst, who was the Army High Commander in Norway at that time? He was there?

A. General von Falkenhorst?

Q. Yes.

A. It is quite possible.

Q. General Stumpf of Air Fleet 5 and - as I do not know what the ranks were I will just give the names - Rundstedt, Reichenau, Stulpnagel, Schubert, Kleist, and of course Bock, Kluge, Guderian, Haider, Kesselring; were they there?

A. The latter were certainly there. As for Stumpf and Falkenhorst, I cannot say.

Q. So that before a campaign it was customary, was it not, for the holders of these high positions to meet the Fuehrer?

A. Certainly.

Q. Now, I want you to help me on just one other small point. Do you remember saying yesterday to Dr. Laternser that the members of this alleged group were far too concerned with high matters of strategy to have anything to do with Fifth Columnists? Do you remember saying that, or words to that effect?

A. Yes.

Q. I do not know if you are aware of this, but outside Germany the name Quisling has become an ordinary word of use as an alternative to Fifth Columnist. Did you know that? You talk about a Quisling, meaning a Fifth Columnist. You have not heard that?

A. No, I did not know that.

Q. You know who Quisling was?

A. Yes, indeed I do.

Q. Well, I should like you to listen to this, because it concerns your Service. The defendant Rosenberg, in January, 1940, wrote to the Fuehrer as follows:

"Assuming that his" - that is, Quisling's - "statements would be of special interest to the Marschall of the Reich, Goering, for aero-strategical reasons, Quisling was referred to State Secretary Korner by the Foreign Affairs Bureau."
Did he come to you at all for aero-strategical reasons?

[Page 59]

A. That is unknown to me.

Q. Now, did you know that the defendant Raeder introduced Quisling to Hitler in December, 1939? Did you know that?

A. No, that is unknown to me.

Q. You agree that the Head of the German Air Force and the Head of the German Navy are important members of this group of Commanders-in-Chief, are they not.

A. Supreme Commanders, yes.

Q. If they had dealings with the typical Fifth Columnist, perhaps members of the group had more to do with Fifth Columnists than you knew.

A. Yesterday I merely spoke from the point of view of the Supreme Commanders on the front and our tasks were in a different sphere.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I think I have finished, but perhaps your Lordship would allow me just over the adjournment to see if there is any small point.

My Lord, the other thing is this. I think we ought to put in these documents to which I have referred, because the defence may want to deal with them later on.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, if they have not already been put in.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I think some of the orders have not been put in. I have read part of them into the record, and I will put them in.

THE PRESIDENT: They must be put in and marked then.

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)



Q. Will you direct your attention to the text after the bomb plot in Rome on 23rd March, 1944. Do you remember what I have in mind - the bomb plot in Rome? At that time your Chief of Staff was General Westphal, and he reported the plot directly to General Buettler? Perhaps you will help me as to the pronunciation? B - u - e -

A. Winter.

Q. General what?

A. General Winter.

Q. Did he not report to a General Buettler, spelled B - u - e - t - t - l - e - r?

A. von Buttlar.

Q. General von Buttlar?

A. This was his predecessor.

Q. General von Buttlar informed your Chief of Staff that he would have to report the matter to the Fuehrer, is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. And he got in touch with the defendant Jodl, and the defendant Jodl and the defendant Keitel reported the matter to the Fuehrer?

A. That is probably correct.

Q. The Fuehrer gave an order that either 10 or 20 - you are not quite sure which, but you rather think 20 - Italians should be killed?

A. I believe that that is a report from Westphal, which I must assume is correct.

Q. Can you remember now, Witness, whether it was 10 or 20?

A. I assume 10, I do not know the exact number.

Q. You do not know the exact number?

A. I assume 10.

Q. We will take it as 10 for the moment.

The competent authority for Rome was General von Mackensen, was it not?

[Page 60]

A. General Mackensen was Commander-in-Chief of the 14th Army, and the Commander of Rome was subordinate to him.

Q. And the person, to use your words, who advised him on this matter was a man called Kapler, was it not?

A. Kapler, of the Security Service.

Q. What was he? An Obergruppenfuehrer or something like that?

A. Obersturmbannfuehrer.

Q. You remember that, after some comments in the "Osservatore Romano," you had an inquiry directed into this incident by your Intelligence officer whose name was Zolling, do you not?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And you also got a report from Kapler himself, did you not?

A. Kapler merely had a brief report relayed to me by telephone to the effect that he had a corresponding number of condemned men available.

Q. Did not Kapler tell you that he had executed 382 people?

A. The execution was in the hands of the 14th Army and I finally received only the news of its being carried out without any further explanation, and had no direct conversation with Kapler.

Q. Are you sure of that?

A. At the end - I expressly emphasise this once more - I conversed with him briefly by telephone after I had arrived at my command post and this report had been given me, as I said earlier. Otherwise I can recall no further direct communication. I do remember that perhaps eight or ten days later I met him and I told him that I was, to a certain extent, grateful to him that this very distasteful matter had been settled in a way which was, legally and morally, above reproach.

Q. Let us see what you had to be grateful about. You were interrogated about this on 8th January. Do you remember being asked this question? "Then Zolling did not tell you that all this number that was executed had previously been convicted of some crime punishable by death?" And you answered, "Yes, I have already said that. Yes, he did that. Even Kapler had told me that."

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. So the explanation which you say was given to you was that they took a number of people, 382 I suggest, who had been guilty of other crimes and executed them as a reprisal for the bomb plot, is not that correct?

A. That is correct, adding the assumption that these people had been sentenced to death.

Q. This has already been put to you. This is Kapler's account, that, of the 382, 176 had committed acts punishable by death; 22 were people whose cases were marked "closed"; 17 had been sentenced to terms of labour; 4 had actually been condemned to death; 4 had been arrested near the scene of the crime. That made 223.

Did not Kapler say to you, "Later the number of victims rose to 325 and I decided to add 57 Jews"? Did not Kapler give you these figures?

A. No.

Q. But you agree with this, that a large number of persons were executed in consequence of the order to kill 10 Italians, or maybe 20 Italians, for one German who had been killed?

A. I admit that, with the assumption, as I have already stated, that these were people who had already been sentenced to death.

Q. But it made no difference to you whether they had been convicted for the bomb outrage or for any other offence?

A. The situation was as follows: The Garigliano battle had begun to rage on the Southern front. At that time there was a bomb attack against a police company by people in Rome, who had been treated with unparalleled

[Page 61]

mildness until then. The excitement on the German side was such that I, as well as the officers under my command, including Embassy Councillor Mollhausen, had to take all measures to keep the situation under control. One had, therefore, to devise the best methods of satisfying public opinion on both sides and of preventing a repetition of such incidents, and it seemed to me that the most expedient step to take would be to make it quite clear that no violence of this sort could be used against the German Army or police without severe consequences. For me that was the essential point; whether X or Y was involved in this outrage was for me a question of subordinate importance. Of primary importance was only that public opinion be quieted within the shortest time, on the Roman as well as on the German side.

Q. Your first object was to take a third attitude, what some people might describe as terrorising the population, so that they would not repeat or do anything against the German Army or police.

A. I do not know - this expression comes from the Rotterdam examination. As far as I know and believe, I never used that expression. I have to repeat that I stood, if I may say this, on ideally friendly terms with the Italians - that was why I was called to Italy - and that I had the most compelling reason to win friendship and not to seek enmity, and I intervened only when it was a matter of cutting off the root of this evil growth decisively and quickly.

Q. I asked you various questions about your acts of friendship to the Italians this morning and I am not going back to them. I want to ask you just one other point about which perhaps you will be able to tell me. On the 2nd November, 1943, were you the Commanding General in Italy, that is, after you became ...

A. May I add something to the first point?

Q. You must come on to this point, and I want you to say whether you were the Commanding General in Italy on 2nd November, 1943? Were you?

A. Since November; since 2nd November, 1943.

Q. Do you remember sending a telegram to the O.K.W. that three British Commandos taken prisoners near Pescara were to be given special treatment?

A. That is correct.

Q. That means murder; it means that they were to be killed by the S.S.

A. No. I beg your pardon ...

Q. What, then, do you mean by special treatment?

A. These people at Pescara, as I have already mentioned once to-day, were not shot, but if they were wounded, were taken to a hospital and, as far as I recall, into a prisoner-of- war camp if they were not wounded.

Q. There were nine others who were taken to a hospital and three, according to your telegram, got special treatment. I am going to ask you about these taken to hospitals. What did you do with people who came under the Commando order who were taken to hospitals?

A. As I have already stated before, they were treated according to the principles of The Hague Convention as generally practised.

Q. Well, I am not going to argue with you whether the Commando order was in accordance with The Hague Convention. We know what the Commando order was, that people taken in Commandos were to be shot. What I am asking you is, supposing some Commandos had the misfortune to be wounded, what happened to them?

A. According to the text of this order they had to be shot. I have already said that in this case - I assume with the collaboration of General Jodl - the order was carried out in the normal fashion.

Q. Evidence has been heard in this Court that in Wilna it was the practice of the S.S. to kill out of hand new-born Jewish babies in hospitals. Can you give me your assurance that Commando troops who were wounded and taken to hospitals were not killed out of hand too?

[Page 62]

A. I assure you that I was not informed of any execution of this sort and would also not have tolerated it.


THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution wish for any further cross-examination?

Then, Dr. Stahmer, do you wish to re-examine?

DR. STAHMER (counsel for defendant Goering): The British prosecution has just submitted new facts which had not become known up to this time, especially about the shooting of hostages, which was carried out in Italy by the Hermann Goering Division in connection with the combating of Partisans, and for which the defendant Goering apparently is to be made responsible. In this connection new documents were submitted. At this time I am not in the position to answer these facts and these serious charges, and to put pertinent questions to the witness.

After a careful examination of the material, I shall submit the appropriate motions and I ask for the opportunity to make a statement as to whether I need further witnesses and have to recall the witness Kesselring.

Of course I shall limit myself to submitting only absolutely necessary requests for evidence within the framework of the accusations just made, in order to prevent an unnecessary prolongation of the trial.

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