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-Sixth Day: Wednesday, 20th March, 1946
(Part 8 of 10)

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

[Page 275]

Q. I ask to have you shown Document 317-EC.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, that is a secret command matter, is it not, dated 7th September, 1943, is that right?

A. I have a letter here before me of 21st February, 1944.

Q. Then you have the wrong document - 317-EC. Page 3.

A. Yes; Page 3.

Q. Your secret command matter is dated 7th September, 1943, is it not?

A. That is correct.

Q. And it reads as follows:

"Concerning the removal of the harvested crops and the destruction of the means of production in the agricultural and food economy in part of the occupied Eastern territories: By direction of the Fuehrer, I give the following order:

First. In the territories East of the line fixed by the highest military command, the following measures are to be taken gradually, according to the military situation at the time. The measures are to be determined by the O.B. (Oberbefehlshaber) of the army groups:

(1) All agricultural products, means of production, and machines of enterprises serving the agricultural and food economy are to be removed.

(2) The factories serving the food economy, in the field both of production and of processing, are to be destroyed.

(3) The basis of agricultural production, especially the records and establishments, storage plants, etc., of the organisations responsible for the food economy are to be destroyed.

(4) The population engaged in the agricultural and food economy is to be transported into the territory West of the fixed line."


A. Absolutely correct; but I want to make the following statement in connec-with it. We are dealing here with purely military measures in a retreat, and

[Page 276]

may I comment on these four points. I emphasised the other day that a great number of agricultural machines had been brought to Russia by us. After the Russians, in their retreat, had destroyed everything, we had all the less military reason to allow the machines of industries which we had set up and brought there to fall into their hands undestroyed. This concerns an urgently necessary military order which had been issued during a retreat and which was executed in the same way as before in the reverse sense. It does not deal with any sort of private property.

Q. And it was signed by you?

A. Yes, this order bears my signature.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I am about to deal with a different subject, may it please your Honour.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. I will ask that the witness be shown Document 3786-PS, of which there are no extra copies available because it came to us so late. I will ask you to examine that and tell me whether you recall the meeting to which these minutes refer?

A. We are apparently concerned here with a report dealing with a meeting which took place daily with the Fuehrer. Since a meeting occurred once or twice daily, I naturally cannot, with any accuracy, without first having read the report, recall the report of 27th January, 1945, for I was present at a great number of these meetings during the course of the war.

Q. I shall call your attention to specific incidents in it. The minutes indicate that the Fuehrer, yourself, Keitel and Jodl were present, do they not?

A. That is so, according to the notes.

Q. And I will call your attention to Page 31 and ask you to follow the notes with me and see if they refresh your memory. Now this relates to 10,000 imprisoned Air Force officers. I quote what is attributed to you:

"Goering: Near Sagan, there are 10,000 imprisoned Air Force officers. Their custody is the responsibility of the Director General of Training (B.d.E.). Personnel for guarding or transporting them is said to be lacking. The suggestion was made as to whether the prisoners should not be left to their Soviet Russian Allies. It would give them 10,000 airmen.

The Fuehrer: Why did you not remove them earlier? This is an unqualified muddle.

Goering: That is the business of the commander of the B.d.E. We have nothing to do with it. I can only report it.

The Fuehrer: They must be removed even if they have to go on foot. The Volkssturm must be called in. Anyone who escapes will be shot. Any means must be used.

Goering: That is from Sagan; there are 10,000 men.

Guderian: in the transfer process the 4th Armoured Division has been moved out completely, also the 227th Division; the remainder of the 32nd Division is now moving out. The next in line is the H.Q. of the 3rd S.S. Panzer Corps, which will move to-night. The Division 'Niederland,' has already pulled out. Parts of the Division 'Nordland' have also been withdrawn from the front.

The Fuehrer: Are they to get replacements? Are they already on the move?

Goering: Fegelein took care of that. He has already ordered that they should be replaced immediately.

[Page 277]

The Fuehrer: Is it absolutely clear that the Army Group Vistula has nothing, for the time being, besides the Corps Nehring, the one Group, and what it has on the Vistula? This must be organised. It will come from here and partly from Germany. It must be done, without fail.

Goering: How many cattle cars are needed for 10,000 men?

The Fuehrer: If we transport them according to German standards, then we need at least 20 transport trains for 10,000 men. If we transport them according to Russian standards, we need 3 or 5.

Goering: Take their pants and boots off so that they cannot walk in the snow."

Do you recall that incident?

A. I remember this incident but vaguely.

Now that I have given the answer I would like to give a short explanation of the value of this document.

I understand that this document has only just arrived, but I have already been interrogated with respect to it long before the beginning of the proceedings, and at that time I pointed out that at the stenographic recording of the meeting - two stenographers took notes at the same time since the meeting often lasted 4 or 5 hours - their notes always had to be gone over afterwards and frequently, because of the presence of many men, inaccuracies occurred in the recordings, so that statements made by one person were credited to another in the minutes. For that reason I said, at the time, that I not only did not remember this statement, but that in my opinion I never made it. We were concerned solely with the preparation of motor vehicles for transport.

Q. Well, I must say that you were interrogated with reference to the incident, but not with reference to these notes which were not transcribed.

A. In respect to this transcript and this incident, it was especially emphasised that we were concerned with stenotype record of the report of the meeting, and I voiced a similar opinion at the time. It was not submitted to me then.

Q. Not stenotype, but stenographic.

You are also reported on Page 35. I call your attention to this and ask you, is it attributed to you mistakenly?

"Goering: The 10,000 prisoners in Sagan should be transported away by Obergruppenfuehrer Juttner." Perhaps I do not pronounce the word as you would.

"The Fuehrer: These prisoners must be removed by all available means. Volkssturm must be employed, with the most energetic people. All who attempt to flee will be shot.

Fegelein: We have a man for that, who guards the concentration camps. This is Gruppenfuehrer Glucks. He must do the job."

Did that occur?

A. That I do not know. I have already testified before that B.d.E. had to take charge of the transportation because we had nothing to do with it. What ideas and opinions the other gentlemen expressed in the discussions I cannot completely testify to or state here. It was a question of whether these 10,000 were to be surrendered or shipped away.

Q. I will ask you a question or two about the Warsaw bombing. Was it known to you that on 3rd September the house of the Ambassador of the United States, situated some 17 kilometres out of Warsaw, was bombed by the German Air Force?

A. No, that is unknown to me.

Q. Your Air Force took a good many pictures of the Polish villages and of Warsaw and used them for distributing among the German people, did they not?

A. That is possible, I was not concerned with that. In any event, the Luftwaffe did not distribute pictures to the German people. It is possible that

[Page 278]

pictures taken by the Luftwaffe might have got into the German Press by way of the Propaganda Ministry. But distribution, in the sense of the Luftwaffe's distributing photographs like leaflets, never occurred.

Q. The Luftwaffe took the pictures for the purpose of determining the efficiency of its hits, did it not?

A. The Luftwaffe took pictures before the target was bombed and again after the target had been bombed, to determine whether it had actually been hit.

Q. I ask to have you shown five photographs, and ask you if those are not photographs taken by the Luftwaffe, following the attack on Poland.

(Witness shown photographs.)

A. In answer to the first question, whether the pictures had actually been taken by the German Luftwaffe, I regret I cannot give a positive answer, for there is no indication that these were made by the German Luftwaffe. Four out of the five pictures were, if you observe them closely, taken from an oblique angle, as though they had been taken from a church steeple rather than from an aeroplane, from which generally only vertical pictures are taken because of the built-in camera.

The picture showing the destruction of parts of Warsaw can be regarded technically as such an aerial photo. The date is lacking here. But none of these pictures gives any proof that they were taken by the Luftwaffe.

However, I would like to suppose they had been taken by the Luftwaffe, so that further questions will be facilitated.

Q. You say you will assume they were taken by the Luftwaffe?

A. Yes, although I doubt it.

Q. I do not want you to give away anything here. If you think they were not taken by the Luftwaffe I do not want you to admit it.

A. I said there is no proof I did not take the pictures, I do not recognise them, they were not submitted to me as Luftwaffe pictures, and from a purely technical point of view they could only have been taken from a plane with a private camera from a very oblique angle. They are not true aerial pictures, that is "vertical" pictures as taken by the Air Force.

Q. Well, we will pass them then and go to something else.

Let us take up Document 638-PS (Exhibit USA 788) about which you have been interrogated and which, as I recall, you authenticated.

(Witness shown document.)

This is the document which was signed by Dr. Joel and I ask you to follow me.

"From the Reich Marshal's plans of 24th September, 1942.

First: The Reich Marshal is looking for daring fellows who will be employed in the East as Sonderkommandos (special purpose) and who will be able to carry out the task of creating confusion behind the lines. They are to be formed into bands under leadership and with interpreters assigned to them. For this purpose the Reich Marshal is considering convicts who are first offenders, who have committed not particularly heinous offences. The Reich Marshal first of all mentioned persons convicted of poaching. He knew, of course, that the Reichsfuehrer S.S. had picked out the so-called poachers and they were already in his hands. He requests, however, that the question be re-examined. The only suitable men are those with a passion for hunting, who have poached for love of the sport, not men who have laid snares and traps. The Reich Marshal also mentioned fanatical members of smuggling gangs, who take part in gun-battles on the frontiers and whose passion it is to outwit the Customs at the risk of their own lives, but not men who attempt to bring articles over the frontier in an express train or by similar means.

[Page 279]

The Reich Marshal leaves it to us to consider whether still another category of convicts can be assigned to these bands or pursuit commands.

In the regions assigned for their operations, these bands, whose first task should be to destroy the communications of the Partisan groups, could murder, burn and ravish; in Germany they would once again come under strict supervision.

(Signed) Dr. Joel, 24th September, 1942."

Do you wish to make an explanation of that document to the Tribunal?

A. Yes, the same that I made once before. The first two paragraphs clearly show that I wanted only those people who had committed no offences involving laws of honour, such as poachers, distinguishing between those having a passion for hunting and those who only want to steal. I made a distinction also with regard to smugglers - between those who take personal risks, showing a certain passion for their activity, and those who do it in a dishonourable way.

Both these main paragraphs plainly show that I did not wish to use criminals of any type, and that is why I explicitly denied having said what is stated in the last paragraphs. It is not a question of the minutes but of the notes taken by an official with whom I discussed these things. He should be able to testify where and if he heard these words uttered by me. But they are so contradictory. I particularly emphasise this. In particular, as I have clearly said, as to the concept of ravishment, which I always punished with death even if committed against citizens of enemy States - I rejected that statement; and I again pointed out that the main paragraphs are in utmost contradiction to the last remark, because if it had been a matter of indifference to me I could have selected criminals.

Thirdly, I expressly stated above that their main task behind the lines was to create confusion, to disrupt communications, to destroy railways and the like. Fourthly and lastly, the whole thing never did take place.

Q. You objected to the word "ravish," which had been translated the first time "rape," and that is the only objection you made to this document when it was presented to you. Is that not correct?

A. No, it is not correct. I say this because it is a most significant concept which has always particularly contradicted my sense of justice, for shortly after the assumption of power I instigated a sharpening of the German punitive laws on this matter. I wanted to show, in the light of this word and this concept, that this entire latter part could not have been uttered by me and I deny having said it. I will absolutely and gladly take responsibility for even the most serious things which I have done, but I deny that this statement, in view of my opinions, could ever have been uttered by me.

Q. Who signed this document?

A. Dr. Joel.

Q. Yes - you knew him?

A. I knew him slightly. I saw him at this conference.

Q. He was present at the conference?

A. I ordered him to come, to tell him that I desired this type of person.

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