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 5 of 11)

[DR. NELTE continues his cross examination of Adolf Westhoff]

[Page 206]

Q. And you knew that such an order was transmitted?

A. General von Gravenitz brought such an order with him and, as far as I know, the order was also transmitted further.

Q. Then you certainly must have known what "Stufe III" meant?

A. No, that I did not know. I have said that I knew only that there was an order to turn over these recaptured prisoners to the Gestapo but I cannot remember details because I never saw a written order.

Q. Can you then state that this order, as you see it there before you, was issued by the O.K.W.?

A. No, that I cannot say.

Q. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. KAUFFMANN (counsel for the defendant Kaltenbrunner): Mr. President, permit me to put only a few questions which refer to the defendant Kaltenbrunner. Witness ...

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, we are going to call the witness Wielen afterwards. You realise that?


THE PRESIDENT: But you want to ask this witness questions, don't you?

DR. KAUFFMANN: The name Kaltenbrunner has been mentioned here and I have only a few questions.


Q. Witness, you mentioned a little earlier that you spoke with the Gestapo and that you received no information from it. Do you know with whom you spoke at that time?

A. No. The conferences with the Gestapo took place continuously. In cases when we missed prisoners of war, and we didn't know where they were, we continuously made inquiries at the Gestapo. But, on one occasion I was with Kaltenbrunner, namely, on the occasion of some other matter which had nothing to do with Allied prisoners of war. And since this occasion gave me the opportunity to talk to Herr Kaltenbrunner personally, I immediately brought the matter up for discussion and tried to have that order rescinded. Kaltenbrunner and Muller were present at the time.

Q. Later on in Berlin after the case Sagan you talked to Kaltenbrunner personally?

A. Yes.

Q. Was the case Sagan discussed there?

A. I talked about the matter there with Kaltenbrunner and I expressly pointed out that this was an unbearable situation.

Q. About how long after the Sagan case, was that?

A. I can't tell you that any more now; it may have been four weeks later.

Q. What was Kaltenbrunner's view on this problem? What did he tell you?

A. Kaltenbrunner himself said next to nothing to me. But rather Muller carried on the conversation and I left without having been given either "yes" or "no."

Q. Was Muller also present during the second conference in Berlin?

A. I only went to Berlin once.

Q. Wasn't the subject of that conversation in any way the question as to how one was to form the Prisoner of War Organisation in the future?

A. No.

Q. That is, that the case Sagan was discussed exclusively?

A. Not exclusively the case Sagan. I was ordered to see Kaltenbrunner for

[Page 207]

another reason, a matter relating to German prisoners of war, and made use of the opportunity to discuss the case Sagan with him at once. That is the only time that I saw Kaltenbrunner at all.

Q. During that conference you neither received a positive nor negative answer?

A. That's correct.

Q. What was the impression with which you left that conference?

A. The impression was that apparently not much could be done.

Q. Did you then report to your superiors about this conference?

A. Yes, I duly informed the General Wehrmacht Office (Allgemeines Wehrmachtsamt) about it.

Q. What was the content of that report?

A. That I had again spoken with Herr Kaltenbrunner about it.

Q. Well, that alone, witness, would certainly not be enough. In this important matter you must certainly have reported then about the business of that conference, not just about the fact?

A. Of course I reported about the business; that I had brought the matter up again, and that the Gestapo took the attitude that they wanted to wait.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I have no further questions, Mr. President.

BY DR. STAHMER (counsel for the defendant Goering):

Q. Witness, did you depose the statement from your own knowledge or did you learn of this fact only through Field Marshal Keitel, namely, the fact that the meeting, mentioned by you, between Hitler, Himmler and Keitel regarding the escape of these eighty flyers, is supposed to have taken place in the presence of Reich Marshal Goering?

A. I learned of it through Field Marshal Keitel.

DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions.

(Dr. Laternser, counsel for the O.K.W. and General Staff, approached the lectern.)

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, if you are going to ask questions on behalf of the High Command - is that what you wanted to do?

DR. LATERNSER: I was going to ask the witness a few questions on behalf of the O.K.W. and the General Staff.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness has given his evidence about the fact that the O.K.W. had nothing to do with these matters in connection with prisoner-of-war camps and he hasn't been cross-examined with reference to that by the prosecution; so that the matter is not in dispute. Therefore it appears to the Tribunal that no question need be put by you.

(A short pause.)

You had better specify your question.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, up to now the procedure was, however, that whenever a witness appeared, every defence counsel had the opportunity to ask the witness questions which he considered necessary. Are we now going to depart from that?

THE PRESIDENT: I didn't ask you to argue the matter; I asked you to specify your questions.

DR. LATERNSER: Very well.


Q. Witness, were you yourself active in the Eastern campaign?

A Yes.

Q. In what capacity?

A. First of all in command of a battalion and then a regiment.

Q. In what sector was your unit engaged?

A. To begin with, in the Ukraine; later, before Leningrad, and then at Staraja-Ruska.

Q. Before the beginning of the Eastern campaign did you give special instructions to your company commanders?

[Page 208]

A. In what respect?

Q. After you had received the order to attack. I assume you must have gathered your company commanders together as battalion commander and discussed some orders with them before the beginning of the advance.

A. I told them how they had to conduct themselves during the battle, how they had to behave toward the Russian population and how they had to act toward the prisoners of war.

Q. Yes, and what kind of instructions did you give your company commanders?

A. I very briefly gave the company commanders instructions that every prisoner of war was to be treated as they would like to be treated themselves if they became prisoners.

Q. You said that specifically?

A. Yes, that was ordered.

Q. How did the troops behave when they marched in?

A. We fought practically all the way to Kiev, and were marching and had hardly any contact with the civilian population.

Q. During the advance into Russia did you notice considerable destruction?

A. Partly, yes; in part, villages had been destroyed, also small towns had been destroyed.

Q. Railways?

A. Railways also, yes.

Q. Industrial works?

A. Yes, I saw that afterwards outside Leningrad; yes, indeed.

Q. In your sector was the order obeyed that Soviet commissars were to be shot after being taken prisoners?

A. We had nothing to do with that. Prisoners of war that we took were all sent back to the division right away. We ourselves, the troop commanders - regimental and battalion commanders - had nothing to do with it; had even no opportunity at all to do this.

Q. Witness, you have not answered my question correctly. I have asked you whether you had applied the order.

A. I knew nothing about it.

Q. Did you ever receive the order to attack the Jewish population in Russia?

A. No.

Q. Did your troops ill-treat or shoot civilian persons or prisoners?

A. No, there was a special-order for the maintenance of discipline, stating that this was not to be permitted.

Q. Was plundering allowed?

A. No, this was specifically forbidden.

Q. Did any plundering occur?

A. Not with my troops.

Q. Did members of your unit commit rape?

A. No, in no case known to me.

Q. Was the civilian population compelled to clear out of the houses occupied by the troops?

A. No, there was merely an order saying those houses in which the offices were set up had to be cleared. Other houses did not have to be evacuated, and as a rule the system was that I, for example, whenever I was billeted, would always sleep in the same room with the people who lived there.

Q. Have you experienced destruction which wasn't due to military necessity?

A. No.

Q. Have you on occasion or frequently fed the hungry civilian population from the field kitchens?

A. The regiment was ordered that all food which was surplus in the regiment was to be issued to the population, mostly at midday or in the evening, whenever we had any contact at all with the population.

[Page 209]

Q. Yes. And then one last question: Do you consider it possible that German soldiers invited Russian children for coffee - and then killed these children by giving them poisoned cake?

A. No.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: You aren't suggesting, are you, that this witness is one for the High Command?


THE PRESIDENT: Are you suggesting that you ought to be entitled to examine every witness who has any military rank on behalf of the High Command?

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, as far as I understood it, it has been the rule up to now as regards procedure that every means of evidence, including witnesses who are presented here, could be examined by each of the defence counsel, and I have adhered to that rule up to now, and I felt that it was my duty to put those questions which I have put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, I asked you, very simply, are you suggesting that you are entitled to ask questions on behalf of the High Command of every person who is called here who has any military rank?

DR. LATERNSER: Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it seems to me that would be highly cumulative. We shall then have evidence on behalf of the High Command from possibly thirty or forty witnesses. And when you say that it has been allowed in the past, every other member of the defence has been confined to evidence, so far as possible, which is not cumulative. That is the reason why I interrupted you, because it seems to me if you are going to do that, to claim the right to ask questions of everybody who has military rank - and you have done it up to now - the evidence is going to be extremely cumulative on your part.

(A brief pause.)

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President ...

THE PRESIDENT: You see, Dr. Laternser, the questions you have been putting to this witness are questions directed to show that the regimental officers and soldiers in the German Army behaved properly and could not be expected to behave improperly. That doesn't seem to be really relevant to the question whether the High Command or not is a criminal organisation. And in any event it is - in my opinion, at any rate - cumulative if you do that.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, already so much weighty, incriminating material has been presented, especially by the Russian prosecution, seeking to implicate the Armed Forces, that the Russian prosecution is definitely of the opinion that relevant orders were issued from above, that is to say, issued by the people comprising the circle of the General Staff and the O.K.W. By questioning this witness, who was a regimental commander, I wanted to establish whether any effects extended downwards. The statements of the witness have confirmed the fact that this was not the case. Otherwise, I must ...

THE PRESIDENT: Anyhow, Dr. Laternser, we understand your position now, and the Tribunal will consider how far you may be allowed to proceed in future.

DR. LATERNSER: Very well.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, Colonel Pokrovsky.


Q. It seems to me, witness, that on 28th December, 1945, you were interrogated by a representative of the Soviet prosecution; is that not so?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. You gave correct and accurate testimony, did you not?

A. Yes.

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