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 7 of 10)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues his cross examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 315]


Q. If I understand you, defendant Goering, you said that all the basic decisions concerning foreign, political and military matters were taken by Hitler alone? Do I understand you rightly?

A. Yes, certainly. After all, he was the Fuehrer.

Q. Am I to understand that Hitler took these decisions without listening to the opinions of the experts who studied the questions, and the Intelligence reports on those matters?

A. It depended upon the circumstances. In certain cases he, would ask for data to be submitted to him, without the experts knowing the exact reason. In other cases, he would explain to his advisers what he intended to do, and get from them the data and consult them.

Q. In that case, do I understand you correctly when you say that when making important decisions, Hitler used the analysis and published material given to him by his close assistants, who advised him accordingly as specialists. Is that correct?

A. Given to him partly by his assistants, partly, as in the case of communication of Intelligence, by other assistants in the departments concerned.

Q. Will you tell me, then, who were these close assistants and associates of Hitler as far as the Air Force was concerned?

A. I was, of course.

Q. And on the questions of economics?

A. In economic matters, it was I.

Q. And on political matters?

A. It depended on what question came up for discussion and on whether the Fuehrer had consulted anybody or asked his opinion.

Q. Can you tell me who were these close assistants and associates?

A. The closest associate of the Fuehrer, as I said before, was I, myself. Another close associate - perhaps it is the wrong word - with whom he perhaps spoke more than with others, was Dr. Goebbels. Then, of course, you must consider the different times. It varied during the 20 years. Towards the end, it was Bormann first and foremost. During the years 1933 and 1934, until shortly before the end, it was Himmler also, when certain questions were dealt with, and if the Fuehrer was dealing with certain other specific questions, then he would, of course, as it is the custom in every Government, consult the person who knew most about the question, and obtain the information from him.

Q. Can you also name which close assistants were associated with him in the field of foreign politics?

[Page 316]

A. As far as foreign policy was concerned, Hitler only consulted his associates on the, so to speak, purely technical side. He made the most important and far-reaching political decisions himself, and he then announced them to his assistants and close associates as ready-made conceptions. Only very few people were allowed to discuss them, myself, for instance, and the technical execution of his decisions in the field of foreign policy, when it came to framing the diplomatic notes, was done by the Foreign Office and its Minister.

Q. The defendant Ribbentrop?

A. Yes, naturally, he was the Foreign Minister concerned, but he did not make foreign policy.

Q. Then, on questions of strategy, who advised Hitler?

A. There were several people. On purely departmental matters of strategic importance it was the three Commanders-in-Chief and their Chiefs of General Staff, and, to some extent, the Supreme General Staff which was immediately attached to the Fuehrer.

Q. Which of the defendants can be placed in the category of such consultants?

A. If he was asked by the Fuehrer, then the adviser on strategic matters was the Chief of the Supreme General Staff, Colonel-General Jodl, and as far as military administrative questions were concerned, the Commanders-in- Chief, that is myself, Raeder and later Donitz for the Navy. The other representatives of the Army did not take part.

Q. The next question. If we approach the subject not theoretically but functionally, could we conclude that any recommendations which Hitler's leading associates might make would have had any considerable influence on Hitler's final decisions?

A. If I disregard the purely formal point of view - and presumably you are referring to the military sphere - then the position was ...

Q. No, I mean all spheres. All aspects of questions, such as economic questions, home policy, foreign policy, military and strategic questions. I mean, if we approach the subject not theoretically, but functionally, did their recommendations have any considerable influence on Hitler's final decisions? That is what I mean.

A. To a certain extent, yes. Their rejection depended on whether or not they appeared right to the Fuehrer.

Q. You said to a certain extent, did you not?

A. Yes, of course; if a reasonable proposal was made, and he considered it to be reasonable, then he certainly made use of it.

Q. I should like to stress that all these consultants must have been closely associated with Hitler. Therefore, they bad a certain influence on Hitler's final decisions. They did not stand quite aloof, did they?

A. They did not stand aloof. Their influence was only effective in so far as their convictions concurred with those of the Fuehrer.

Q. In 1940?

A. In 1940. But I would add that we had already considered making preparations, not only in anticipation of a possible threat from Russia, but from all those countries which were not already involved in the war, but which might eventually be drawn in.

Q. All right. It was in November, 1940, when Germany was preparing to attack Russia? Plans were already being prepared for this attack with your participation?

A. The other day I explained. exactly that at the time a plan for dealing with the political situation and the potential threat from Russia had been worked out.

Q. I ask you to reply to this question briefly, yes or no. I think it is possible to reply to the question briefly.

[Page 317]

Once more I say, in November, 1940, more than half a year before the attack on the Soviet Union, plans were already prepared, with your participation, for the attack on the Soviet Union. Can you reply to this briefly?

A. Yes, but not in the sense in which you are presenting it.

Q. It seems to me that I have put the question quite clearly, and there is no ambiguity at all here. How much time did it take to prepare the "Plan Barbarossa"?

A. In which sector, air, land or sea?

Q. If you are acquainted with all phases of the plan, then I would like you to answer for all phases of the "Plan Barbarossa."

A. Generally speaking, I can only answer for the air, where it took a comparatively short time.

Q. If you please, just how long did it take to prepare the "Plan Barbarossa"?

A. After so many years I cannot give you the exact time without referring to the documents, but I answered your question when I told you that as far as the Air Force was concerned it took a comparatively short time. As for the Army, it probably took longer.

Q. Thus, you admit that the attack on the Soviet Union was planned several months in advance of the attack itself, and that you, as Chief of the German Air Force and Reichsmarschall, participated directly in the preparation of the attack.

A. May I divide your numerous questions? Firstly -

Q. There were not too many questions asked at once. Excuse me, please. You have admitted that in November, 1940, the "Plan Barbarossa" was prepared and developed.

A. That is correct.

Q. Following that, I asked you, since you admit that, whether you, as Chief of the German Air Force and Reichsmarschall, participated in plans for the attack months ahead of their execution. I asked you to reply to the last part of the question. You admit that as Chief of the German Air Force and Reichsmarschall you participated directly in preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union? Do you admit that?

A. I once more repeat that I prepared for the possibility of an attack, mainly because of Hitler's assumption that Soviet Russia was adopting a dangerous attitude. In the beginning the certainty of an attack was not discussed, and that is stated clearly in the directive of November, 1940.

Secondly, I want to emphasise that my position as Reichsmarschall is of no importance here. That is a title and a rank.

Q. But you do not deny - rather, you agree - that the plan was already prepared in November, 1940?

A. Yes.

Q. It appears to me that the question has already been covered in such detail before the Tribunal that we need not talk too much about the "Plan Barbarossa," which is quite clear. I shall go on to the next question:

Do you admit that the objectives of the war against the Soviet Union consisted of invading and seizing Soviet territory up to the Ural Mountains and joining it to the German Reich, including the Crimea, the Caucasus; also the subjugation by Germany of the Ukraine of Byelorussia, and of other regions of the Soviet Union? Do you admit that such were the objectives of that plan?

A. That I certainly do not admit.

Q. You do not admit that. Do you not remember that during the conference at Hitler's headquarters on 16th June, 1941, at which you were present, as well as Bormann, Keitel, Rosenberg and others, Hitler stated the objectives of the attack against the Soviet Union exactly as I have stated them? This was shown by the document submitted to the Tribunal. Have you forgotten that document? Have you forgotten about that?

[Page 318]

A. I can remember the document exactly, and I have a fair recollection of the discussion at the conference. I said in the first place that this document, as recorded by Bormann, appears to me extremely exaggerated as far as the demands are concerned. At any rate, at the beginning of the war, such demands were not discussed, nor had they been discussed previously.

Q. But you do admit that there are minutes of such a conference?

A. I admit it because I have seen them. It was a document prepared by Bormann.

Q. You also admit that according to the minutes of this meeting you participated in that conference.

A. I was present at that conference, and for that reason I question the record.

Q. Do you remember that in those minutes the war aims were formulated? I shall remind you of various parts of the minutes. It is not necessary to read them in full.

A. May I ask to be shown a copy of that record?

Q. You would like a copy of the minutes of the meeting?

A. I ask to have it.

Q. If you please. Would you like to read the document?

A. No, only where you are going to quote it.

Q. Page 2, second paragraph, point 2, about the Crimea: "We emphasise" - can you find the place? Have you got it?

A. Just a moment. I have not found it yet. Yes, I have it.

Q. "We emphasise," states this point 2, "that we are bringing freedom to the Crimea. The Crimea must be freed of all foreigners and populated by the Germans. Also, Austrian Galicia must become a province of the German Reich."

Have you found the place?

A. Yes.

Q. "A province of the Reich," it says.

A. Yes.

Q. I want to draw your attention to the end of the minutes. It says here.

"The Fuehrer stresses the fact that the whole of the Baltic States must become Reich territory."
Have you found the place, "The Fuehrer stresses the fact"?

A. You mean the very last bit?

Q. That is right.

A. "Finally, it is ordered ..."?

Q. A little higher up.

A. "The Fuehrer stresses . . ."?

Q. That is right.

"The Fuehrer stresses the fact that the Baltic countries as well must become Reich territory."
Then, it goes on:
"Reich territory must also include the Crimea, with its adjoining regions. These adjoining regions must be as big as possible. The Fuehrer says that about the Ukrainians, but that has no connection."
Go on further; omit one paragraph:
"The Fuehrer stresses that the Volga region also must become Reich territory, as well as the Baku Province, which must become a military colony of the Reich. Eastern Karelia must also be included.

In view of the large supplies of nickel required, regions where this is found must also be included. Great caution must be exercised in the incorporation of Finland and the absorption of the Leningrad region into

[Page 319]

the Reich. The Fuehrer would like to see Leningrad disappear from the map altogether."
Have you not found the place where it mentions Leningrad and Finland?

A. Yes.

Q. These are the minutes of the conference at which you were present on 16th July, 1941, three weeks after Germany attacked the Soviet Union. You do not deny that such minutes exist, do you? It is Document 221.

A. You said three days, did you not?

Q. Three weeks, not three days.

A. Oh, three weeks, I see.

Q. Three weeks after Germany attacked the Soviet Union on 22nd June, and the conference took place at Hitler's headquarters on 16th July, at 15.00 hours, I think.

A. That is quite right. I have said so all along, but the record of this is not correct.

Q. Who took the minutes of the meeting?

A. Bormann.

Q. What was the point of Bormann's taking the minutes incorrectly?

A. In this record Bormann has exaggerated. The Volga territory was not discussed. As far as the Crimea is concerned, it is correct that the Fuehrer . . . .

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