The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
4th April to 15th April, 1946

One Hundred and Fourth Day: Wednesday, 10th April, 1946
(Part 3 of 11)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his examination of Adolf Westhoff]

[Page 197]

Q. There is no difference between us. That is what I was suggesting. Now, I'd like you to look at the next paragraph. It also deals with General Roettig. Then after that you explain the position of the officers. You say this:
"I only know an order existed that only officers and, I believe, only those who were caught by the Gestapo should be handed over to them."
Then you say, you talk about Intelligence - I don't want to trouble you about that. Then, if you would look at the next paragraph:
"I received a report from the camp saying so-and-so many men had been shot while attempting to escape. I didn't bear from the Gestapo at all. It's like this: The reports were sent to the camp. Then the camp informed us that a certain number of men had been recaptured and a certain number shot. Things were reported in that way. The Gestapo sent me no information whatsoever; they merely told us casually, whenever we made inquiries, that they had recaptured a certain number."

[Page 198]

Now the next sentence I want you to look at carefully:
"The Field Marshal gave us detailed instructions to publish a list at the camp, giving the names of those shot as a warning. That was done. That was a direct order which we could not disregard."
Is that correct?

A. We were ordered to display in the camp a list of all those who were shot as a warning to other prisoners.

And then the next sentence says:

"Apparently the bodies were burned and the ashes put into urns and sent to the camp."
And then there is the arrangement about the burial.

Then you say that that raised great difficulties. A sentence or two later you say that matters of that sort were always passed to higher authority. This particular matter was passed to the Party Chancellery and then there was hell to pay. The cremation of prisoners of war is forbidden.

And then later on, when you say that you raised the question of it being contrary to the Convention, you say:

"Whenever I addressed myself to the Officers' Corps and said, 'Gentlemen, we only act according to the Convention,' someone from higher authority of the Party Chancellery arrived the following day and said, 'Gentlemen, the Convention is a scrap of paper which doesn't interest us.'"
Is that correct as to the general procedure?

A. It is not entirely correct; the O.K.W. took the point of view that the Convention should be observed, but the prisoner-of-war affairs as such, in Germany, were only outwardly in the hands of the O.K.W. The people who really formed the decisions on prisoner-of-war affairs were the Party and Economic offices. Thus, for example, my office had to submit every order that was issued to the deputy of the Party Chancellery and the Party Chancellery decided how this order was to be issued, and not the O.K.W. at all.

Q. I don't want to go into it in detail. You had an interview with Bormann's deputy, Friedrich, at the Party Chancellery. And then, in the next long paragraph beginning "The Air Force prisoner-of-war camps were under German Air Force Administration."

We have gone into that, if your Lordship agrees, in detail - the Air Force side of it - I didn't intend to put that.

Then I want you to come to where it says, in the paragraph after you talked about the question of handing over prisoner- of-war camps to Himmler's organisation, you see it reads, "We were told all men who escape are to be shot." It may be the beginning of the next paragraph in my English version. Do you see it? After a long paragraph about Air Force camps.

A. What page, please?

Q. The trouble is the pages are different, but it begins, "We were told all men who escape are to be shot." It is the third paragraph from the end of the document. If you start from the end of the document you will see a paragraph, "I can't remember"; one before it, "We arranged with the Field Marshal." It is the one before that. "We were told all men who escape are to be shot." Have you got it?

"The Field Marshal prohibited anything concerning this to be put into writing. Anything at all. Only the camp was to be informed all about it. I discussed the matter with Gravenitz once more. I can't tell you the exact details any more. We contacted the Gestapo regarding the return of the bodies. We had to have them back. Then von Gravenitz left for the Front."

[Page 199]

Now it is the next bit I want you to look at carefully.
"I then said to Oberstleutnant Krafft, 'I will not continue like this; I am going to cover myself at all costs so that we are not involved in it afterwards. It's true the Field Marshal has forbidden it to be put in writing, but I must have it in writing. It must be signed by the Fuehrer.'"
Now that is what you said to Krafft; comparatively unimportant.

A. That is not entirely correct.

Q. Tell us what you would like altered in it.

A. I wanted it in writing, signed by the Field Marshal, and for this reason I issued a memorandum describing this discussion. And thus I had the Field Marshal's signature for future events so that I would have something in writing to prove it actually true.

Q. Now, just look at the next sentence. I think that entirely agrees with what you have said:

"Contrary to Field Marshal Keitel's orders, I pretended that I hadn't understood properly, and worked the thing out on paper. I said to Oberstleutnant Krafft, 'I want to have the word "shoot" included so that Keitel can see it in writing. He may adopt a different attitude then.'

When I got it back he had written the following in the margin: 'I didn't definitely say "shoot"; I said, 'Hand over to the police or hand over to the Gestapo.'"

A. That is not entirely correct.

Q. What change would you like to make in that, General?

A. I stated clearly in my sworn statement that the Field Marshal had written on the margin: "I didn't say shoot, but turn over to the Gestapo."

Q. Is that the same as is in this statement? It says, "He wrote in the margin 'I didn't definitely say shoot. I said hand over to the police or hand over to the Gestapo.'"

A. Well, that is right.

Q. I wanted this to be quite clear, General. The draft order or note of information that you had put up to the Field Marshal contained the word "shoot"?

A. Yes.

Q. Now there is only one other bit. You go on to say:

"We arranged with the Field Marshal to have the matter submitted to the Fuehrer. We had the feeling that there was something not quite in order."
And then you say that you had to approach the police authorities on a slightly lower level, and about ten lines down you say this:
"In the end I couldn't get where I wanted with this affair, so I went to Berlin myself - it was the only time I ever saw Kaltenbrunner - and said to Kaltenbrunner: 'This matter is still outstanding. It should be submitted to the Fuehrer. It can't go on like this. A decision must be made sometime. But apart from that I am of the opinion that the whole affair should be dropped. The whole thing is madness. It has already caused so much unpleasantness and is so monstrous that I am still of the opinion that this affair should either be stopped in some way or the Fuehrer be dissuaded from continuing it any further.'"
Is that generally, again, in substance, a correct version of what you said to the defendant Kaltenbrunner?

A. This does not directly concern this matter but rather an order that was to be issued by Wagner in connection with it and was to be submitted to the Fuehrer in two ways: Once, via the chief of the O.K.W., and the other time via Himmler. This order had been submitted to Keitel in draft form which then

[Page 200]

went to the Gestapo. The Gestapo also read this draft and then the matter was carried no further. I was never able to find out why this was so and for this reason I myself duly addressed Kaltenbrunner about this matter.

Q. Was this the order in its final form which directed that escaped prisoners of war should be handed over to the Gestapo or the police?

A. Yes.

Q. I see. So this, General Westhoff, if I may have your attention, was really dealing with the future, was it? This was dealing with what was to be done in the future?

A. Yes.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I don't think one need go into it in detail again, unless the Tribunal wants. My Lord, the rest of the statement is only a general account of the attitude of the British prisoners of war, and I have no complaint about it at all.

My Lord, there is one problem that has arisen which perhaps the Tribunal would consider now. My friend, Colonel Pokrovsky, has certain quite different matters with regard to the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war on which he wants to question this witness. Perhaps the Tribunal would consider it a convenient time to do it now.

THE PRESIDENT: It probably would be more convenient if Dr. Nelte put his questions to this witness, if he has any, first, before Colonel Pokrovsky.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I should respectfully agree to clear up this topic first.

THE PRESIDENT: Unless Colonel Pokrovsky's questions might relate to the defendant Keitel?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: They do relate, of course, to the position of the O.K.W. with these prisoners of war, but they have nothing to do with Sagan.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, have you any questions you want to put to this witness?


Q. Witness, what was just read to you is called a statement. Have you ever given this statement in complete form orally or in writing?

A. I was interrogated on different occasions and this interrogatory, which has been presented to me, is a summation of my testimony. Of course, I found errors here and there because it has been summarised, and the questions have been omitted.

Q. In other words, this is a summation of the answers you gave to questions at various interrogations?

A. Yes.

Q. Was this summation ever submitted to you?

A. No.

Q. I had the impression that the passages read to you here were on occasion very long and that you actually answered only the latter part of these passages. I should like to ask you whether after this interrogation in London you were not again interrogated?

A. I was interrogated here in Nuremberg.

Q. By Colonel Williams?

A. Yes.

Q. What did Colonel Williams say to you at the conclusion of this interrogation? What did he request of you?

A. At the conclusion of the interrogation, Colonel Williams asked me to describe briefly the basic central point of my testimony and to sum it up in a sworn statement.

Q. Did you swear to this statement before Colonel Williams?

A. Yes, I swore to it.

Q. Now, I should like first of all to go through the interrogation with you,

[Page 201]

that you had with Colonel Williams and which is to be found in Exhibit RF-1450. I am having this document handed over to you.

THE PRESIDENT; What do you mean by Exhibit 1450?

DR. NELTE: RF-145O is contained in the document book, in my document book, as No. 5.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean Exhibit RF 1450, do you?



Q. This document is entitled "Summary of Interrogation of General Adolf Westhoff by Colonel Curtis L. Williams, on 2nd November, 1945."

THE PRESIDENT: Just one minute, Dr. Nelte.... Dr. Nelte, the Tribunal thinks that you can put to this witness: "Did you or did you not make a different statement in an interrogation at some other time?" But the document that you are referring to now is a document which the Tribunal refused to admit on your objections. When the French presented that document, you objected to it and it was therefore not allowed to be put in, so that the proper way in which to put the question now is: "Did you say to Colonel Williams so-and-so?"


Q. I have here a compilation of those points in the document or in the notes of Colonel Williams, which, according to your declaration, are not supposed to be correct. I now ask you, what did you, or did you not upon being questioned by Colonel Williams .

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, it is not right for you to say that they are different - you must ask him questions about it; not make statements yourself.


Q. What did you say to Colonel Williams in answer to his question as to whether the prisoner-of-war camps in their entirety were supposed to be subordinate to the O.K.W. and to Field Marshal Keitel?

A. The prisoner-of-war camps were subordinate to the O.K.W. only to the extent that the O.K.W. had the legal control of them and dealt with the Protective Powers, the International Red Cross in this case. The O.K.W. did not have the power to give orders or dole out punishment in the camps.

Q. What did you answer to Colonel Williams's question regarding the rights of the O.K.W. in respect to the inspection of the camps?

A. The O.K.W. was entitled to inspect. That can be seen also in my official orders in which it states clearly that the inspector was entitled to inspect the camp.

Q. What did you answer to Colonel Williams's question, to whom was Stalag Luft 3 subordinate?

A. Stalag Luft 3 Sagan was subordinate to the Commander-in- Chief of the Luftwaffe, because the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, on his own request, had already at the beginning of the war all prisoner-of-war camps containing airmen placed under his control.

Q. Did you answer to one of Colonel Williams's questions that Goering, Himmler, Keitel and Hitler had decided to shoot the officers who escaped from Sagan?

A. No, that is a mistake. Colonel Williams asked me what the Fuehrer had said to Field Marshal Keitel; thereupon, I answered clearly that I could give no information about this, since I had not taken part in that conference. I could only make statements about the conference that Field Marshal Keitel had had with General von Gravenitz.

Q. Did you answer Colonel Williams that Field Marshal Keitel, during this conference with Gravenitz, had said: "This is my order"?

A. No, the Field Marshal could not issue an order regarding the shooting, since the shooting was not within the competence of the Wehrmacht but within that of the Gestapo.

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