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-Seventh Day: Thursday, 21st March, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 293]

Q. That is a perfectly fair point and the answer to it is that I win show you what this officer reported at the time to his General.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Give the witness General Grosch's statement.

(A paper was handed to the witness.)

We are getting reasonably high up. This officer, General Grosch, signs it as a Lieutenant-General. Now, would you like, if you can, to help me again - you were most helpful last time - to try to find the place? This is a statement by Lieutenant-General Grosch.

A. I request to have permission to read this document first, to see whether similar limitations apply here also.

Q. Will you read the first sentence? I do not want to take up time to read an account of the general matter. It says:

"During my interrogation on 7th December, 1945, I was told to write down all I knew about the Sagan case"; and then he wrote it down.
But I would like you to look at No. 1, the first page. Do you see at the foot of the page an account of the pyramid in your Ministry of administration? Do you see that at the foot of Page 1?

(There was no response from the witness.)

[Page 294]

Q. Witness, do you see at the foot of Page 1 the pyramid?

A. I have not got as far yet; I beg your pardon.

Q. It comes in about the fourth paragraph.

A. I can see it, but I wanted to read the other first.

Q. Then, if you will look about four small paragraphs on, it begins:

"A few days after the day of the escape-I cannot remember the date any more - Oberst Walde informed me that the O.K.W. had called a conference in Berlin."
Do you see that? I do not mind you running through it quickly, but you may take it that the first two pages are what I said they were, the pyramid of your Ministry.

A. Yes, I have found it. The paragraph, please?

Q. It is Part 3, the fourth paragraph, the Sagan case. "A few days after the escape . . ." Do you see that?

A. Yes, I have the place.

Q. Thank you.

"A few days after the day of the escape - I cannot remember the date any more - Oberst Walde informed me that the O.K.W. had called a conference in Berlin - I believe on the premises of a high S.S. and police authority, and that the Inspectorate was to send representatives. I should have liked to have gone myself but had to attend another conference in Berlin, and asked Walde to attend as representative. After his return Oberst Walde informed me that the spokesman of the O.K.W. had informed them that there was a decision by the Fuehrer to the effect that, on recapture, the escaped British airmen were not to be handed back to the Luftwaffe but were to be shot."
Then missing a paragraph and taking the last line of the next paragraph:
"It is, however, certain that the danger of their being shot was even then clearly recognisable. I asked Oberst Walde whether such a far-reaching decision would be notified in writing to the Supreme Command of the Luftwaffe or the Reichsluftfahrtministerium, or whether he had been given anything in writing. Oberst Walde gave me to understand that the assembly were told that they would receive nothing in writing, nor was there to be any correspondence on this subject. The circle of those in the know was to be kept as small as possible. I asked Oberst Walde whether the spokesman of the O.K.W. had said anything to the effect that the Reichsmarshal or the Oberkommando Luftwaffe had been informed about the matter. Oberst Walde assured me that the O.K.W. spokesman had told them that the Reichsmarshal was informed."
I will not ask you about that for the moment. I want you to look at what your General did. He says:
"Up to the time of Oberst Walde's report I had not received even so much as a hint from anywhere that escaped prisoners of war should be treated in any other way than according to the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

The same afternoon I rang up my superior officer, the Director of Air Defence, to ask time for an interview with General der Flieger Forster to be allotted to me. This was fixed for the next morning, the 28th.

When I came to report I found General Forster together with his Chief of Staff. I asked General Forster for permission to speak to him alone and put the facts before him. In conclusion, I expressed the opinion that if the British airmen were to be shot, (a) there would be a breach of the Geneva Convention, (b) reprisal measures endangering the lives of German

[Page 295]

airmen held by the British as prisoners of war would have to be expected. I asked General Forster to bring the matter to the notice of the Reichsmarshal even at this very late stage, and to stress those two points.

General Forster was prepared to do this immediately. When it came to the choice of the way in which the matter could be brought to the attention of the Reichsmarshal, it was decided to report to the Under-Secretary of State, General Field-Marshal Mitch.

In my presence General Forster rang up the office of the Under-Secretary of State and obtained the interview at once. General Forster left the room, and instructed me to wait for his return in his study. After sometime he came back and told me that he had reported the matter to the Under-Secretary of State and that Field-Marshal Milch had made the necessary notes."

Look at the last paragraph:
"I gave Oberst Walde the order, despite the ban by O.K.W., to incorporate a detailed written statement about the conference in our records. So far as I know, this was done."
DR. STAHMER (counsel for the defendant Goering [interposing]): We have here a matter of affidavits given by witnesses who are in Nuremberg and who, in my opinion, could be brought as witnesses in person because of the importance of this matter not only for Goering but for other defendants. I object to this procedure, under the assumption that the same rules apply for cross-examination-in-chief. By that I mean that we should not be satisfied with an affidavit and depend on an affidavit if the prosecution can, without difficulty, summon the witness in order for him to testify before the Tribunal, so that the defence may be in a position to cross-examine these witnesses.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, what you have said is entirely inaccurate. The rules with reference to cross-examination are not the same as rules with reference to examination-in- chief, and what is being done at the present moment is that the defendant Goering is being cross-examined as to his credibility. He has said that he knew nothing about this matter, and he has been cross-examined to prove that he has lied when he said that.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, according to my opinion the procedure should be that the witness be brought here in person. The fact remains that, according to our opinion, a reference to an affidavit is a less desirable means than the personal testimony of a witness, which would afford the defence the possibility of adducing the evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, as I have already pointed out to you, you are quite in error in thinking that the rules for cross-examination are the same as examination-in-chief. The witness at the present moment is being cross-examined and is being cross-examined as to credibility; that is to say, to prove whether or not he is telling the truth.

As to the calling of this witness - I think his name is Grosch - you can apply to call him if you want to do so. That is an entirely different matter.

DR. STAHMER: Yes. I quite understand, Mr. President; but I am interested in having the possibility of calling in the people who are mentioned in this affidavit - if possible, to have them called in.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you can apply to do that.


Q. You understand that what I am suggesting to you is that here was a matter which was not only known in the O.K.W., not only known in the Gestapo and the Kripo, but was known to your own director of operations, General Forster, who told General Grosch that he had informed Field-Marshal Milch. I am suggesting to you that it is absolutely impossible and untrue that in these circumstances you knew nothing about it.

[Page 296]

A. I would like to establish an entirely different point. First, in the German interpretation regarding the first objection by Dr. Stahmer, the following came through:

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The Tribunal does not want you to discuss legal objections.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you please answer the question that is put to you? You have already been told that you must answer a question directly and make any explanation afterwards, and shorten it.

Q. Do you still say, in view of that evidence, in view of these statements from the officers of your own Ministry, that you knew nothing about this?

A. These statements exactly confirm this, and I would like to make a short explanation. You determined a date. You said it was the 27th. But in this statement by Grosch this date is not determined. It says: "A few days after the escape, I do not recall the date, Oberst Walde reported to me."

Another point is that it says here that General Forster, who was not chief of my operational branch but chief of another branch of the Ministry, mentioned this matter to Milch, without referring to the date. General Field-Marshal Milch was here as a witness, but unfortunately he was never questioned as to whether he gave me this report, or at what time, or whether to me direct.

Q. Oh yes he was, and General Field-Marshal Milch took the same line as you, that he knew nothing about it, that Forster had never spoken to him. It was asked by my friend, Mr. Roberts, "Did not General Forster speak to you about it?"

What I am suggesting is that both you and Field-Marshal Milch are saying you knew nothing about it when you did, and are leaving the responsibility on the shoulders of your junior officers. That is what I am suggesting, and I want you to realise it.

A. No, I do not wish to push responsibility on to the shoulders of my subordinates, and I want to make it clear - that is the only thing that is important to me - that Field- Marshal Milch did not say that he reported this matter to me. And, secondly, that the date when Forster told Milch about this is not established. It is quite possible that, on the date when this actually happened, the Chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe might already have conferred with me about it. The important factor is - and I want to maintain it - that I was not present at the time when the command was given by the Fuehrer. When I heard about it, I vehemently opposed it. But at the time when I did hear of it, it was already too late. That a few were shot later was not yet known at the time, neither was the exact time of the event. Most of them had been shot already.

A further point is that those who escaped, and were captured in the direct vicinity of the camp by our guards, were returned to the camp and were not handed over. Those prisoners who were captured by the police and the Grossfahndung, before the Fuehrer had issued the decree, were returned to the camp, and not handed over and shot.

Q. You know that, according to Wieland, who is going to give evidence, a list of the officers selected to be shot had been prepared by the camp authorities at the request of Department 5, that is, of the R.S.H.A.-Kripo Department, a list in which those officers who were regarded as disturbing elements, plotters, and escape leaders, were specifically mentioned. The names were selected either by the commandant or by one of these officers. Thereupon, the shooting of the officers mentioned by name was accordingly ordered by Department 4 of the R.S.H.A. and corresponding instructions sent to the Staatspolizei.

Are you telling the Tribunal you did not know that your own officers were selecting the men to be shot on the ground that they were plotters and escape leaders? In any other Service in the world, attempt to escape is regarded as a duty of an officer, is it not, When he is a prisoner of war? Is not that so?

[Page 297]

A. That is correct, and I have emphasised that. To your first question, I would like to put on record very definitely that we are dealing with the statements of a man who will be testifying as a witness. As to whether he actually asked for a list and saw a list, his statement is illogical. There was no selection made for shooting. Those who were captured by the police were shot without exception, and also those who were not returned to the camp. No officers were selected as representing disturbing elements, but those who were returned to the camp were not shot. Those who were recaptured by the police outside the camp were shot without exception, on the orders of the Fuehrer. Therefore, the statement is entirely illogical and not in accord with the facts.

I know nothing about such a list being asked for nor about the carrying out of these demands. I personally pointed out to the Fuehrer repeatedly that it is the duty of these officers to escape, and that after their return to England they would have to give an account of the attempts.

Q. You remember that the Government of Germany sent an official note about this matter, saying that they had been shot while resisting arrest while trying to escape? Do you remember that?

A. I heard for the first time that a note to this effect had been sent when a reply was received. I had no part in the drawing up of the note. I know its contents only through the reply, for I happened to be there when it came in.

Q. I am not at the moment dealing with the point that everyone now admits that the note was a complete and utter lie. I am dealing with the seriousness of this matter. Do you know that General Westhoff says in his statement: "Then, when we read this note to England in the newspaper, we were all absolutely taken aback. We all clutched our heads, mad." According to Herr Wieland, who will be here, it was a contributory cause for General Nebe of the Kripo, for nights on end, not going to bed but passing the night on his office settee. You will agree, will you not, Witness, that this was a serious and difficult matter? All these officers that had to deal with it found it a serious and difficult matter, is not that so?

A. Not only these officers found this matter serious and difficult but I myself considered it the most serious incident of the whole war and expressed myself unequivocally and clearly on this point, and later, when I learned the contents of the note, I knew that this note was not in accordance with the truth. I gave expression to my indignation, inasmuch as I immediately told my Quartermaster- General to direct a letter to the O.K.W. to the effect that we wished to give up the camps for prisoners of war, because under these circumstances we no longer wished to have anything to do with them.

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