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 5 of 9)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 188]

Q. Protective custody meant that you were taking people into custody who had not committed any crime but who, you thought, might possibly commit a crime?

A. Yes. People were arrested and taken into protective custody who had not yet committed any crime, but who could be expected to do so if they remained free, just as similar protective measures are being taken in Germany to-day on a tremendous scale.

Q. Now, it is also a necessity, in the kind of State that you had, that you have some kind of organisation to carry propaganda down to the people and to get their reaction and inform the leadership of it, is it not?

A. The last part of that question has not been intelligibly translated.

Q. Well, you had to have organisations to carry out orders and to carry your propaganda in that kind of State, did you not?

A. Of course we carried on propaganda, and for this we had a propaganda organisation.

Q. And you carried that on through the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, did you not?

A. The Leadership Corps was there, of course, partly to spread our ideas among the people. Secondly, its purpose was to lead and organise the people who made up the Party.

Q. Through your system of Gauleiter and Kreisleiter down to Blockleiter, commands and information went down from the authority, and information as to the people's reactions came back to the leadership, did it not?

A. That is correct. The orders and commands that were to be given for propaganda or other purposes were passed down the grades as far as necessary. On the other hand, it was a matter of course that the reactions of the broad masses of the people were again transmitted upwards through the various offices, in order to keep us informed of the mood of the people.

Q. And you also had to have certain organisations to carry out orders - executive organisations, organisations to fight for you, if necessary, did you not?

A. Yes, administrative organisations were, of course, necessary. I do not quite understand - organisations to fight what?

Q. Well, if you wanted certain people killed you had to have some organisation that would kill them, did you not? Roehm and the rest of them were not killed by Hitler's own hands or by yours, were they?

A. Roehm - the Roehm affair I explained here clearly - that was a matter of State necessity ...

Q. I did not ask you ...

A. . . .and was not carried out by the police.

[Page 189]

Q. But when it was State necessity to kill somebody, you had to have somebody to do it, did you not?

A. Yes, just as in other States; whether it is called Secret Service or something else, I do not know.

Q. And the S.A., the S.S. and the S.D., organisations of that kind, were the organisations that carried out the orders and dealt with people on a physical level, were they not?

A. The S.A. never received an order to kill anybody. Neither did the S.S., not in my time. Anyhow, I had no influence on it.... I know that orders were given for executions, namely in the Roehm Putsch, and these were carried out by the police, that is, by a State organ.

Q. What police?

A. As far as I recall, through the Gestapo. At any rate, that was the organisation that received the order. You see, it was a fight against enemies of the State.

Q. And the S.S. was for the same purpose, was it not?

A. Not in North Germany at that time; to what extent that was the case in south Germany, where the Gestapo and the S.S. were still separated, and who carried out the action in South Germany, I do not know.

Q. Well, the S.S. carried out arrests and carried out the transportation of people to concentration camps, did they not? You were arrested by the S.S., were you not?

A. Yes, yes, but later.

Q. At what time did the S.S. perform this function of acting as the executor of the Nazi Party?

A. After the seizure of power, when the police came to be more and more in the hands of Himmler. It is difficult for me to explain to an outsider where the S.S. or where the Gestapo was active. I have already said that the two of them worked very closely together. It is known that the S.S. guarded the camps and later carried out police functions.

Q. And carried out other functions in the camps?

A. To what functions do you refer?

Q. They carried out all the functions of the camps, did they not?

A. If an S.S. unit was guarding a camp and an S.S. leader happened to be the camp commander, then this unit carried out all the functions.

Q. Now, this system was not a secret system. This entire system was openly avowed, its merits were publicly advocated by yourself and others, and every person entering into the Nazi Party was enabled to know the kind of system of government you were going to set up, was he not?

A. Every person who entered the Party knew that we embraced the leadership principle and knew the fundamental measures we wanted to carry out, so far as they were stated in the programme. But not everyone who joined the Party knew down to the last detail what was going to happen later.

Q. But this system was set up openly and was well known, was it not, in every one of its details? As to organisation, everybody knew what the Gestapo was, did they not?

A. Yes, everyone knew what the Gestapo was.

Q. And what its programme was, in general, not in detail?

A. I explained that programme clearly. At the very beginning I described that publicly, and I also spoke publicly of the tasks of the Gestapo, and I even wrote about it for foreign countries.

Q. And there was nothing secret about the establishment of a Gestapo as a political police, about the fact that people were taken into protective custody, about the fact that there were concentration camps? Nothing secret about those things, was there?

A. There was at first nothing secret about it at all.

[Page 190]

Q. As a matter of fact, part of the effectiveness of a secret police and part of the effectiveness of concentration camp penalties is that the people do know that there are such agencies, is it not?

A. It is true that everyone knows that if he acts against the State he will end up in a concentration camp, or will be accused of high treason before a court, according to the degree of his crime. But the original reason for creating the concentration camps was to keep there those people whom we rightfully considered enemies of the State.

Q. Now, is that type of government - the government which we have just been describing - the only type of government which you think is necessary to govern Germany?

A. I should not like to say that the basic characteristic of this government and its most essential feature was the immediate setting up of the Gestapo and the concentration camps in order to take care of our opponents. Over and above that we had set down as our government programme a great many much more important things, and those other things were not the basic principles of our government.

Q. But all of these things were necessary things, as I understood you, for purposes of protection?

A. Yes, these things were necessary because of the opponents that existed.

Q. And I assume that that is the only kind of government that you think can function in Germany under present conditions?

A. Under the conditions existing at that time, it was, in my opinion, the only possible form, and it also demonstrated that Germany could be raised in a short time from the depths of misery, poverty and unemployment to relative prosperity.

Q. Now, all this authority of the State was concentrated? Perhaps I am taking up another subject. Is it the intent to recess at this time?

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)

DR. STAHMER: The witness Dahlerus has been in Nuremberg for several days and is waiting to testify. He has informed me that he absolutely must be in Stockholm again by Thursday. For this reason he requests, and I am asking the High Tribunal's permission, that he be called as a witness to- morrow morning, even if the cross-examination has not been completed. The prosecution have all agreed to my proposal.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you say the prosecution had agreed to your proposal?

DR. STAHMER: Yes, my Lord. I contacted the four gentlemen involved and they have agreed to this.

THE PRESIDENT: How long do you anticipate that the examination in chief of the witness will take? You cannot answer for the cross-examination.

DR. STAHMER: I believe that I will need half a day-that is, until to-morrow noon. I cannot say definitely, but it is quite probable it will last as long as that.

THE PRESIDENT: His evidence is only relevant to the few days before 1st September, 1939?

DR. STAHMER: There are two additional questions, but these questions may be answered very briefly. He seems to have made two further efforts after September, but those are very brief questions.

THE PRESIDENT: It appears to the Tribunal that half a day is a totally unnecessary time for the examination-in-chief of a witness who is going to speak about events during a few days before the war began.

DR. STAHMER: I would not say that, Mr. President. It is not just a few days. These negotiations started at the end of June or the beginning of July. I

[Page 191]

should like to add, further I that I shall naturally limit myself to those questions necessary for the trial, but these questions should be asked.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal agrees, if the prosecution is willing for this evidence to be interposed. The Tribunal trusts that you will find it possible to make your examination-in-chief much shorter than you have indicated.



Q. You have related to us the manner in which you and others co-operated in concentrating all authority in the German State in the hands of the Fuehrer; is that right?

A. I was speaking about myself and to what extent I had a part in it.

Q. Is there any defendant in the box you know of, who did not co-operate toward that end so far as was possible?

A. That none of the defendants here opposed or obstructed the Fuehrer in the beginning is clear, but I should like to call your attention to the fact that we must always distinguish between different periods of time, for some of the questions that are being put to me are very general and, after all, we are concerned with a period extending over twenty-four to twenty-five years, if a comprehensive survey is to be made.

Q. Now, I want to call your attention to the fruits of this system. You, as I understand it, were informed in 1940 of an impending attack by the German Army on Soviet Russia?

A. I have explained just how far I was informed of these matters.

Q. You believed an attack not only to be unnecessary, but also to be unwise from the point of view of Germany itself?

A. At that particular time I was of the opinion that this attack should be postponed in order to carry through other tasks, which I considered more important.

Q. You did not see any military necessity for an attack at that time, even from the point of view of Germany?

A. Naturally, I, too, was fully aware of Russia's moves towards the deployment of her forces, but hoped to put through, first, other strategic measures, as described by me, in order to improve Germany's position. I thought that the time required for these would ward off the critical moment. I well knew, of course, that this critical moment for Germany might come at any time after that.

Q. I can only repeat my question, which I submit you have not answered.

Did you at that time see any military necessity for an attack by Germany on Soviet Russia?

A. I personally believed that at that time this danger had not yet reached its climax, and therefore the attack might not yet be necessary. But that was my personal view.

Q. And you were the Number Two man at that time in all Germany?

A. It has nothing to do with my being second in importance. There were two conflicting points of view as regards strategy. The Fuehrer, the Number One man, saw one danger, and I, as the Number Two man, if you wish to express it so, wanted to put through another strategic measure. If I had imposed my will every time, then I would probably have become the Number One man. But since the Number One man was of a different opinion, and I was only the Number Two man, his opinion naturally prevailed.

Q. I have understood from your testimony - and I think you can answer this "Yes" or "No," and I would greatly appreciate it if you would - I have understood from your testimony that you were opposed, and told the Fuehrer that you were opposed, to an attack upon Russia at that time. Am I right or wrong?

[Page 192]

A. That is correct.

Q. Now, you were opposed to it because you thought that it was a dangerous move for Germany to make; is that correct?

A. Yes, I was of the opinion that the moment - and I repeat this again - had not come for this undertaking, and that measures which were more expedient, as far as Germany was concerned, should be taken.

Q. And yet, because of the Fuehrer system, as I understand you, you could give no warning to the German people; you could bring no pressure of any kind to bear to prevent that step, and you could not even resign to protect your own place in history.

A. There are quite a few questions here. I should like to answer the first one.

Q. Separate them, if you wish.

A. The first question was, I believe, whether I took the opportunity to tell the German people about this danger. I had no occasion to do this. We were at war, and such differences of opinion, as far as strategy was concerned, could not be brought into the public forum during the war. I believe that has never happened in world history.

Secondly, as far as my resignation is concerned, I do not wish even to discuss that, for during the war I was an officer, a soldier, and I was not concerned with whether I shared an opinion or not. I had merely to serve my country as a soldier.

Thirdly, I was not the man to forsake a man to whom I had given my oath of loyalty every time he was not of my way of thinking. If that had been the case there was no need to bind myself to him from the beginning. It never occurred to me to leave the Fuehrer.

Q. In so far as you know, the German people were led into the war, attacking Soviet Russia under the belief that you favoured it?

A. The German people did not know about the declaration of war against Russia until after the war with Russia had started. The German people, therefore, had nothing to do with this. The German people were not asked; they were told of the fact and of the necessity for it.

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