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, 21th March, 1946
(Part 6 of 10)

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

[Page 311]

Q. You told Mr. Justice Jackson yesterday that there were various representatives in Eastern territories, and you have seen the films of the concentration camps, have you not, since this trial started? You knew that there were millions of garments, millions of shoes, 20,952 kilograms of gold wedding rings, 35 wagons of furs - all that stuff which these people who were exterminated at Maidanek or Auschwitz left behind them. Did nobody ever tell you, under the development of the Four-Year Plan, or anyone else, that they were getting all this quantity of material? Do you remember we heard from the Polish-Jewish gentleman who gave evidence that all he got back from his family, of his wife and mother and daughter, I think, were their identity cards? His work was to gather up clothes. He told us that so thorough were the henchmen of your friend Himmler that it took five minutes extra to kill the women because they had to have their hair cut off as it was to be used for making mattresses. Was nothing ever told you about this accretion to German material, which came from the effects of these people who were murdered?

A. No, and how can you imagine this? I was laying down the broad outlines for the German economy, and that certainly did not include the manufacture of mattresses from women's hair or the utilisation of old shoes and clothes. I leave the figure open. But I do want to object to your reference to my "friend Himmler."

Q. Well, I will say, "your enemy Himmler," or simply "Himmler," whichever you like. You know whom I mean, do you not?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. Now, I just want to remind you of one other point: on 14th April, 1943, the defendant Sauckel wrote to Hitler - Document 407-PSV, Exhibit USA 228:

"I have the honour to report to you that it was possible to add 3,638,056 new foreign workers to the German war economy between 1st April of last year and 31st March of this year. In addition to the foreign civilian workers, 1,622,829 prisoners of war are employed in the German economy."
Now, just listen to this, "Out of the 5,000,000 foreign workers who have arrived in German not even 200,000 came voluntarily." That is from the minutes of the Central Planning Board on 1st March. Do you say that you, in your position in the State and as the great architect of German economy, did not know that you were getting for your economy 4,800,000 foreign workers who were forced to come? Do you tell the Tribunal that?

A. I never told the Tribunal that. I said that I knew quite well that these workers were brought in and not always voluntarily, but whether the figure of 200,000 is correct, that I do not know, nor do I believe it. The number of volunteers was greater, but this does not alter the fact that workers were forced to come to the Reich. That I have never denied and have even admitted it.

Q. You admit - and I want to put it quite fairly - that a large number of workers were forced to come to the Reich and work there?

A. Yes, certainly.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, would you like to adjourn now?


(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)


Q. Do you remember what you said about the relations between you and the Fuehrer? May I repeat your words:

"The chief influence on the Fuehrer, if I may mention influence on the Fuehrer at all, was up to the end of 1941 or the beginning of 1942, and that influence was I. Then my influence gradually decreased until 1943, and from 1943 on it decreased speedily. All in all, I do not believe anyone had anywhere near the influence on the Fuehrer that I had."
That is your view on that matter?

[Page 312]

A. Yes.

Q. I think you told the Tribunal that right up to the end your loyalty to the Fuehrer was unshaken, is that right?

A. That is correct.

Q. Do you still seek to justify and glorify Hitler after he had ordered the murder of these fifty young flying officers at Stalag Luft III?

A. I am here neither to justify the Fuehrer Adolf Hitler nor to glorify him. I am here only to emphasise that I remained faithful to him, for I believe in keeping one's oath not in good times only, but also in bad times when it is much more difficult.

As to your reference to the fifty airmen, I never opposed the Fuehrer so clearly and strongly as in this matter, and I gave him my views. After that no conversation between the Fuehrer and myself took place for months.

Q. The Fuehrer, at any rate, must have had full knowledge of what was happening with regard to concentration camps, the treatment of the Jews, and the treatment of the workers, must he not?

A. I already mentioned it as my opinion that the Fuehrer did not know about details in concentration camps, about atrocities as described here. In so far as I know him, I do not believe he was informed.

Q. I am not asking about details; I am asking about the murder of four or five million people. Are you suggesting that nobody in power in Germany, except Himmler and perhaps Kaltenbrunner, knew about that?

A. I am still of the opinion that the Fuehrer did not know about these figures.

Q. Now, you remember how Mr. Dahlerus described the relations between you and Hitler on Page 53 of his book:

"From the very beginning of our conversation, I resented his manner towards Goering, his most intimate friend and comrade through the years of struggle. His desire to dominate was explicable, but to require such obsequious humility as Goering now exhibited, from his closest collaborator, seemed to me abhorrent and nauseating."
Is that how you had to behave with Hitler?

A. I did not have to behave in that way, and I did not behave in that way. Those are journalistic statements by Dahlerus, made after the war. If Germany had won the war, this description would certainly have been very different.

Q. Mr. Dahlerus was your witness, though.

A. Mr. Dahlerus was not asked to. give a journalistic account. He was solely questioned about the matters with which he, as courier between myself and the British Government, had to deal.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, on Tuesday of last week the defendant called General Bodenschatz, who gave general evidence as to his character and reputation. He, therefore, in my respectful submission, entitles me to put one document to him which is an account by the defendant Raeder of his general character and reputation. In accordance with the English practice, I make my submission and ask the Tribunal's permission to put it in.

DR. STAHMER (counsel for the defendant Goering): I object to the reading of this document. It would be considerably easier to question Grand-Admiral Raeder, since he is here with us, as witness on his statement. Then we will be able to determine in cross-examination whether and to what extent he still maintains this alleged statement.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I have to put it in cross- examination to give the defendant the chance of answering it. The defendant Raeder can give his explanation when he comes into the witness box.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to look at the document before it is put in.

[Page 313]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: That is the English translation. I will show Dr. Stahmer the German.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, I should like to point out that the document bears no date and we do not know when and where it was drawn up.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: It is signed by the defendant Raeder.

DR. STAHMER: When and where was it drawn up? The signature of Raeder is unknown to me.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The date is in Raeder's handwriting, as is the signature; 27th July, I think it is, 1945. Each page of the document is signed by the defendant Raeder.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, you said the defendant has, put his character in issue through Bodenschatz?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Your Lordship will remember he was asked by Doctor Stahmer, "Will you now tell me about the defendant's social relations?" And then he proceeded to give an account of his character and his kindness and other qualities at that time; and I notice that Doctor Stahmer has just included as an exhibit still further evidence as to character in the form of a statement by one Hermann Winter.

THE PRESIDENT: Would it not have been appropriate, if the document was to have been put in evidence, to have put it to Bodenschatz, who was giving the evidence?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: But, my Lord, the rule is that if the defendant puts his character in issue, he is entitled to be cross-examined on his character and his general reputation, and of course it is permissible to call a witness to speak as to his general reputation.

DR. STAHMER: May I make the following remark? I did not call Bodenschatz, neither did I question him as witness for Goering's character. I questioned him about certain facts and happenings from which Bodenschatz subsequently drew certain conclusions. In my opinion, all these questions should have been put to Bodenschatz when he was here. These statements could then have been used to prove that it was Bodenschatz who was not telling the truth, and not that Goering had told an untruth. To prove this the document should have. been used during Bodenschatz's interrogation. Then we would have been able to question Bodenschatz about it, too.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: He may prefer that Bodenschatz be brought back and it be put to him, but I think I am entitled to put it to the defendant who called the evidence as to his character and reputation.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(There was a recess.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal rules that at the present stage this document cannot be used in cross-examination.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Honour please, I understand that your Lordship leaves open the question for further argument, whether it can be used for the defendant Raeder and the witnesses.


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I am much obliged.


Q. Now, Witness, you said, before the Tribunal adjourned, that Hitler, in your opinion, did not know about or was ignorant about the question of concentration camps and the Jews. I would like you to look at Document 736-D. That is an account of a discussion between the Fuehrer and the Hungarian Regent Horthy on 17th April, 1943, and if you would look at Page 4 you will see the passage just after "Nuremberg and Furth"?

[Page 314]

A. Just a moment: I should like to read through it very quickly to decide as to its authenticity.

Q. Certainly.

A. Page 4.

Q. Page 4-GB 283. You see, after the mention of Nuremberg and Furth, Hitler goes on:

"The Jews did not even possess organisational value. In spite of the fears which he, the Fuehrer, had heard repeatedly, in Germany also, everything continued to go its normal way without the Jews. Where the Jews were left to themselves, as, for instance, in Poland, the most terrible misery and decay prevailed. They are just pure parasites. In Poland, this state of affairs had been fundamentally cleared up. If the Jews there did not want to work, they were shot. If they could not work, they had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli, with which a healthy body may become infected. This was not cruel, if one remembers that even innocent creatures of nature, such as hares and deer, who are infected, have to be killed, so that no harm is caused by them. Why should the beasts who wanted to bring us Bolshevism be spared more? Nations which did not rid themselves of Jews perished. One of the most famous examples is the downfall of that people who were once so proud, the Persians, who now lead a pitiful existence as Armenians."
Would you look also at USSR 170, which is an exhibit, and which is about a conference which you had on 6th August, 1942?

THE PRESIDENT: Before you pass from this document, is there not a passage higher up that is important? It is about 10 lines down, I think, in the middle of the line ...

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Your Honour is correct. To Admiral Horthy's counter-question as to what he should do with the Jews, now that they had been deprived of almost all possibility of earning their livelihood - he could not kill them off - the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs declared that the Jews should be exterminated or taken to concentration camps. There was no other possibility.

Now, this is a conference which you had with a number of people, and on Page 143, if you will turn to it, you come to the question of butter. If you will look where he says:

"Reichsmarshal Goering: How much butter do you deliver? 30,000 tons?"
Do you see that?

A. Yes.

Q. And then Lohse, who is in the conference, says, "Yes," and you say, "Do you also deliver to Wehrmacht units," and then Lohse says, "I can answer that too. There are only a few Jews left alive. Tens of thousands have been disposed of, but I can tell you that the civilian population gets, on your orders, 15 per cent. less than the Germans." I call your attention to the statement that "there are only a few Jews left alive, tens of thousands have been disposed of." Do you still say, in the face of these two documents, that neither Hitler nor yourself knew that the Jews were being exterminated?

A. This should be understood. From this you cannot conclude that they have been killed. It is not my remark, but the remark of Lohse. On that question I also answered. The Jews were only left in smaller numbers. From this remark you cannot conclude that they were killed. It could also mean that they were removed.

Q. About the preceding remark, I suggest that you make quite clear what you meant by "there are only a few Jews left alive, whereas ten of thousands have been disposed of."

[Page 315]

A. They were still living there. That is how you should understand that.

Q. You heard what I read to you about Hitler, what he said to Horthy and what Ribbentrop said, that the Jews must be exterminated or taken to concentration camps. Hitler said the Jews must either work or be shot. That was in April, 1943. Do you still say that neither Hitler nor you knew of this policy to exterminate the Jews?

A. For the correction of the document -

Q. Will you please answer my question? Do you still say neither Hitler nor you knew of the policy to exterminate the Jews?

A. As far as Hitler is concerned, I have said I do not believe it. As far as I am concerned, I have said that I did not know, even approximately, to what degree this thing took place.

Q. You did not know to what degree, but you knew there was a policy that aimed at the extermination of the Jews?

A. No, a policy for emigration, not liquidation, of the Jews. I only knew that there had been isolated cases of such perpetrations.


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