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

Eighty-Fourth Day: Monday, 18th March, 1946
(Part 2 of 9)

[The direct examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING continues]

[Page 175]

DR. SIEMERS (counsel for the defendant Raeder):

Q. The prosecution has submitted the diary of General Jodl as Document 1809-PS. In this diary there are two entries from the first half of 1940, in regard to which I should like to have your opinion. These two entries concern Russia at a time when Germany and Russia were on friendly terms.

I should like to say in advance that the substance of the intentions which are contained in these entries sound rather fantastic and that is why I would like to have your opinion as Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force.

I quote the first entry dated 13th February, 1940:

"Have learned from Admiral Canaris that the squadron Rowehl is to be employed in full force going from Bulgaria toward the Caucasus. The Air Force must explain with whom this false idea originated."
The second entry of May, 1940, reads as follows, and I quote verbatim:
"Fuehrer rejects request of the Air Force to set up a listening post in the Caucasus."
I would like you to tell me what the thoughts were which guided you in these plans as Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force and what facts were the basis of your thoughts.

A. If these entries were made on the basis of a report by Admiral Canaris, who was the Chief of Foreign Intelligence, and if they were entered by Jodl in connection with the special long reconnaissance squadron Rowehl, it is because of the latter's connection with this squadron (to whom he himself frequently assigned Intelligence or espionage tasks) that he had heard of my intention to use it - which was something which I wanted to have kept specially secret. He

[Page 176]

apparently informed the High Command of the Wehrmacht, where this action, or the intended action, met with complete misapprehension and rightly could not be understood.

My intention in this connection - and I had personally ordered it - was entirely clear. The statement that it was to do reconnaissance in or in the direction of the Caucasus is not quite correct. It would have been more correct to say in the direction of the Caucasus, Syria and Turkey.

But this mistake may have occurred in the report transmitted by Canaris.

I had received more and more Intelligence reports to the effect that from Asia Minor actions were to be undertaken against the Russian oilfields of the Caucasus - Baku - and likewise actions for the purpose of gravely disrupting the oil supply from Roumania to Germany.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force I was the one chiefly interested in bringing in Roumanian oil, as well as the Caucasian oil, more precisely petroleum and gasoline, on the basis of a trade agreement with Russia, because at that time the refineries were not completed and not working to capacity. A disturbance in either one of these supplying regions would have greatly damaged my Air Force. Therefore I had to watch this closely. I anticipated disruption of the oil regions in the Caucasus.

I had the agents' report checked by very reliable people and found that in Syria an army was actually formed under General Weygand which had the name of "Orient Army." I was more interested, however, in the concentration of squadrons of aircraft in the Syrian area, not only of French but also of English squadrons. As far as I remember I received these reports about the intentions of the Franco-British air squadrons through informants in Turkey - that is to say, from Turks, because there had been negotiations with Turkey regarding permission to fly over her territory in order to carry out the intention of the English-French air squadrons of suddenly bombing the Baku area and thereby severely damaging the Russian oilfields and eliminating deliveries to Germany.

I therefore had to, or rather I was obliged to, find out constantly, through long-range reconnaissance flights, the extent to which the airfields in Syria were becoming more active than before. There could be no other reason for massing aircraft there exactly at this time, for it was not a theatre of war nor was there any threat from Germany at that moment. On the contrary, it would have been understandable if all British and French aircraft had not been needed in England and France.

If, therefore, my long-range reconnaissance flights established the fact that the aerodromes in Syria were being used more than ever, and further confirmed that possibly the East Turkish airfields were being increased, this would have been, and actually was, a confirmation of the alleged intentions. In this case, as soon as I had recognised this clearly, I would have to point out to the Fuehrer that Germany should draw Russia's attention to the danger threatening her.

The second remark, the establishing of "listening posts," not in the Caucasus but in front of the Caucasus, naturally served the same purpose, namely that of setting up secret radio stations along the general flight direction Syria- Caucasus, Syria-Baku, East Turkey-Baku, one, two or three, in order to find out whether preparatory flights of the Franco-English Air Forces were taking place in this direction, that is to say, first of all reconnaissance on the oilfields, etc. in order to get more information that way also.

Since at the time I had not yet conclusive and final proof in my hands, I kept these things to myself and only dealt with them in the offices responsible to my sector of the Air Force, until I could obtain a clear picture. Only later, after the termination of the French campaign, absolute confirmation of these intentions was obtained by the discovery of the secret reports of the French General Staff and of the meetings of the Combined Supreme War Council of England and France, a confirmation of the fact that my information was entirely

[Page 177]

correct and that a plan for a surprise bombing attack on all the Russian oilfields had been prepared. In the meantime the confirmation of the plan to eliminate the Roumanian oilfields, already known to us, was communicated to the Roumanian Government, and this attack in neutral Roumania was then prevented.

Q. I understood you correctly, did I not, that these plans were made by both England and France?

A. Yes.

Q. And that the intelligence you received was to the effect that the attacks on the oilfields were directly aimed at the then neutral Russia and also, indirectly, at Germany by the cutting off of her oil supply.

A. Of course.

DR. SIEMERS: Thank you.

DR. BOEHM (counsel for the S.A.):

Q. Witness, is it true, as the prosecution maintains, that you were Reichsfuehrer of the S.A.?

A. I was not Reichsfuehrer of the S.A., there never was such a title. In 1923, on 9th November, I was a commander of the S.A., which at that time only existed in Bavaria and to a small extent in Wurttemberg.

Q. According to that, how long were you commander of the S.A.?

A. I just told you, until November, 1923.

Q. From 1921 on?

A. From the beginning of 1923.

Q. What was your influence before and after 1923 respectively, in regard to the leadership of the S.A., the indoctrination of the people and the giving of orders?

A. Please repeat the question.

Q. What was your influence before and after 1923 as far as the leadership of the S.A., the indoctrination of the S.A. men and the issuing of orders were concerned?

A. From the beginning of 1923 until 9th November, 1923, my influence was complete and absolute, that is, I commanded the S.A. directly. After 1923 I was no longer entitled to have anything to do with the S.A. itself, neither did I.

Q. How was it before 1923, the relationship before 1923 as well as after 1923?

A. I beg your pardon?

Q. Was your relationship to the S.A. the same before 1923 as afterwards?

A. I have explained this very precisely. Until November, 1923, I was commander of the S.A. with full power and authority to give orders. After 1923 I had nothing more to do with the S.A. as far as giving orders was concerned. I was only - I do not know what year it was, perhaps 1936 or so - connected with the S.A. in an honorary capacity, but without exercising any authority. Besides, I had no occasion to do so.

Q. In the course of your testimony during the past week, in connection with the S.A. people, you said that they were always ready to make great sacrifices. Now I would like you to tell me what kind of sacrifices these were.

A. The sacrifices of the S.A. men were these; that they gave nearly all their leisure time to the movement without being reimbursed, that they did without family life or recreation, so that in the difficult times of our struggle for power they were always at the disposal of the Party, for election campaigns, continuous parades, protection of meetings, etc. In my eyes this is a considerable sacrifice, if one considers that most members of the S.A. were workers and minor employees who needed the few hours of their leisure more for rest, but who were always ready to be fully at the disposal of the Party and to work for their political ideals according to their political beliefs.

Q. Were these people promised material advantages?

A. None at all.

[Page 178]

Q. Is it correct that, particularly after the taking over of power, a great number of Communist agitators crept into the S.A.?

A. Please repeat the question.

Q. Is it correct that, especially after the taking over of power, a great number of Communist agitators were able to creep into the S.A.?

A. That was a very notable and vital matter. As, after the taking over of power, action was taken against Communists, which was something they had. logically expected, a number of members of the "Red Front" battle organisation had joined the S.A., especially in large cities where this was easier. This was all the easier because the then head of the S.A., Roehm, indiscriminately admitted S.A. men, or rather men into the S.A., who did not need to be members of the Party, as was formerly required. Anyone could therefore become an S.A. man without belonging to the Party.

At the same time Hugenberg's German National Party also started a political battle organisation which he called the "Green Shirts." These were also to be taken into the S.A. then, just as the "Stahlhelm," as they seemed purposeless by themselves.

I personally remember one day when four to five hundred of these people assembled at the Wilhelm Strasse to be enrolled in the S.A. I saw these people from my window and definitely noticed that elements were involved which did not belong there. I immediately summoned Security Police and had a check made. Ninety-eight per cent. of these men had their Communist Red Front membership cards in their pockets.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Boehm, the Tribunal considers that this is all cumulative to what the defendant has already said in his examination-in-chief. He has given us a long account of the S.A. in his examination-in-chief. He has added nothing in the course of what he is now saying.

DR. BOEHM: According to the prosecution, it is asserted that the S.A. was composed of "terror gangsters." I feel in duty bound to correct or clarify this statement in this respect by asking the question ...

THE PRESIDENT: That has nothing to do with what I said. It may be that the prosecution have said that. Probably they have. What I was pointing out, to you was that the defendant Goering has been all over this ground in the evidence he has already given, and the Tribunal does not wish to hear the same evidence twice.

DR. BOEHM: Yes, that may apply to my first three questions in a way.

Q. I should like to ask further in what way you influenced the S.A. in connection with the Versailles Treaty? Did you tell the people that the Versailles, Treaty should be annulled by diplomatic means or by war?

A. This question is extremely difficult to answer. If I made a speech to my S.A. men in 1923 I could not very well say much about diplomacy. They would not have understood that. Rather the question was quite simple "to get rid of Versailles." The ordinary S.A. man was not at all concerned with the "how" or the "what." That is the task of the leadership. I did not say, "I promise that you will never have a war," that we were only a purely pacifist organisation and that we should only try by protests to rid the world of Versailles. But I also did not say to them, "In the next few years we will march out and make war." In reality I did not tell them anything. I said that they would have to be obedient and have confidence in the leadership and leave what was to be done to the leadership - that that was proper and a basic attitude - every S.A. man knew that from our speeches and from the Party programme. Among all the people the, wish was of every decent German, I hope to get rid of Versailles.

Q. According to your knowledge and also outside the period of 1923, from 1921 to 1945, was the S.A. and also the organ of the S.A., that is, the leadership of the S.A., as well as the individual member, informed that the N.S.D.A.P.

[Page 179]

intended, after the taking over of power, to dominate other States and to make war with this purpose in mind, even in disregard to the rules of war and the laws of humanity if need be?

A. I do not quite know just what one imagines the S.A. leadership and the entire S.A. to be. It is quite impossible that anyone should stand up and say, "Listen, we wish: (1) to overthrow and subjugate and dominate all other States, (2) to wage war continuously, (3) to destroy everything and act as inhumanly as possible, and (4) to pay thereby no attention to any law of war."

I cannot imagine that anyone but an insane person would have made such statements before the S.A. or anyone else. The S.A. was never informed politically in any way. It was told: "You will march to-morrow, and the day after, leaflets will be distributed and then . . . ," as I have already explained.

Q. During the time of the seizure of power there were various excesses on the part of the S.A. Was this a matter of measures undertaken by individual members, or were these measures in accordance with instructions of the S.A. leadership?

A. In no case, I believe, in accordance with instructions from the middle or even the higher S.A. leadership offices. In an organisation of a million young people there will always be a certain percentage of rowdies, especially in the large cities; as I have already mentioned, there was a considerable number of agitators in the organisation; that thereby individual excesses on the part of individuals or groups of like-minded persons will occur is entirely inevitable.

Q. Did the S.A. leadership in principle ever sanction individual actions on the part of its membership?

A. I have already stated that I had very little to do with the leadership of the S.A., but I do not think so.

Q. Is it correct that the police were forbidden to take steps against excesses on the part of individual members of the S.A.?

A. In the beginning that was not the case at all. By that I mean, on the contrary, the police had orders to take most decisive action in such cases, and particularly the Police President of Berlin, who was not of the Party, Admiral (retired) von Lewetzow, acted very vigorously. That may even have been the reason for his being removed by the Fuehrer, two years later, I believe, owing to continuous complaints by the Berlin Gauleiter Goebbels.

Q. How was it later on? If I understood you correctly, you said that in the beginning that was not the case; later the police must have been forbidden to intervene in the case of excesses by members of the S.A.?

A. No, it is not to be understood that way. At all times the police intervened against excesses by individual S.A. men, as far as I remember. A number of S.A. men were even convicted.

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