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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Tenth Day: Wednesday, 17th April, 1946
(Part 5 of 13)

[MR. DODD continues his cross examination of Alfred Rosenberg]

[Page 61]


Q. If you look at this document, you will see that it is a memorandum about your recommendations as to the personnel for the Reich Commissariats in the East and for the Political Central Office in Berlin, and it was written on 7 April, 1941, and I take it that that was only a few days after Hitler talked to

[Page 62]

you about your new assignment in the East, four or five days at the most isn't that so? Will you answer that question?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, in this memorandum you set out that you recommended Gauleiter Lohse and we know from the documents and the testimony that he was appointed, isn't that a fact?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. Now, turn to the next page of the English text, it is the paragraph beginning as follows:-

"In addition it will eventually become necessary to occupy with troops not only St. Petersburg but also Moscow. This occupation will probably differ considerably from that in the Baltic provinces, the Ukraine and the Caucasus. It will be accomplished by suppressing any Russian and Bolshevik resistance and will necessitate an absolutely ruthless person both as regards the military representation and also the eventual political direction. The problems arising from this need not be detailed here. If it is not intended to maintain a permanent military administration the undersigned would recommend the Gauleiter of East Prussia, Erich Koch, as Reich Commissar, Commissioner in Moscow."
Did you recommend Koch for that job as a particularly ruthless man in April of 1941? Yes or no?

A. Yes.

Q. Just a minute. You have done a lot of talking here for the last day and today just give me a chance once in a while.

He is the same man you told us a minute ago you did not know to be particularly ruthless until after he did these terrible things in the Ukraine. Now, it is very clear you did know it in April of 1941, isn't it? What is your answer to that?

A. That is not correct, that is not laid down here. I have stated that I know from Koch's writings from 1933 and 1934 that he had a special liking for the Russian people. I knew Koch as a man of initiative in East Prussia. I had to expect that at the centre at Moscow and around Moscow a very difficult job would have to be done. For here was the centre of gravity for Bolshevism and here the greatest resistance would be met. Then I did not want to have Koch in the Eastern Territories nor in the Ukraine because I did not believe I had to fear such resistance there. I was aware of Koch's devotion to everything Russian, and knew that he had initiative; and was intended for some job in the East by the Fuehrer as well as by the Reich Marshal.

Q. When you were looking for a ruthless man you suggested Koch as early as April of 1941.

A. This expression refers rather to initiative and, of course, I also had the opinion that he would fight any Bolshevik resistance ruthlessly; but not in the sense that he would suppress a foreign race or try to exterminate foreign cultures.

Q. The truth of the matter is that you had some peculiar and odd interest in the Ukraine and you had somebody else in mind for that job but you know Koch was a bad actor and you wanted him in another part of Russia, is it not?

A. No, for the Ukraine I wanted the State Secretary Backe and my Chief of Staff Schickedanz, as can be seen from the document. I wanted Backe because he is a German from the Caucasus and speaks Russian, knows the entire southern area and probably could have worked very well there. I did not get him and I was forced to accept Koch, I would like to say, against my personal protest at the meeting of 16 July, 1941.

Q. Well, if that is your answer I do not care to go any further with it. With respect to your attitude towards the Jewish people, in your Frankfort speech in

[Page 63]

1938 you suggested that they all had to leave Europe and Germany, did you not?

A. This phrase -

Q. All you need to say is "Yes" or "No." Did you make that suggestion or not in your speech in Frankfort in 1938 -

A. Yes, but I certainly can't answer "Yes" or "No" on an incorrect quotation.

Q. I do not think you need to explain anything at all. I merely asked you whether you said that in Frankfort in your Party Day speech.

A. Yes, essentially that is correct.

Q. Now, in your Party Day speech to which you made reference yesterday, you said you used harsh language about the Jews. In those days you were objecting to the fact that they were in certain professions, I suppose, and things of that character. Is that a fair statement?

A. I said yesterday that in two speeches I demanded a chivalrous solution and equal treatment, and I said then the foreign nations would not accuse us of discriminating against the Jewish people.

Q. Yes, very well. Did you ever talk about the extermination of the Jews?

A. I have not in general spoken about the extermination of the Jews in the sense of this term. One has to consider the words. The term "extermination" has been used by the British Prime Minister -

Q. You will refer to the words. You just tell me now whether you ever said it or not? You said that did you not?

A. Not in a single speech in that sense.

Q. I understand the sense. Did you ever talk about it with anybody as a matter of State Police or Party policy, about the extermination of the Jews?

A. In a conference with the Fuehrer there was once an open discussion on this question apropos of an intended speech which was not delivered. The sense of it was that now a war was going on and that the threat which had been mentioned should not be discussed again. That speech was not delivered.

Q. When was it you were going to deliver that speech? Approximately what was the date?

A. In December, 1941.

Q. Then you had written into your speech remarks about the extermination of Jews, hadn't you? Answer that yes or no.

A. I have said already that that word does not have the sense which you attribute to it.

Q. I will come to the word and the meaning of it. I am asking you, did you not use the word or the term extermination of the Jews in the speech which you were prepared to make in the Sportpalast in December of 1941? Now, you can answer that pretty simply.

A. That may be, but I do not remember. I myself did not prepare the phrasing of the draft. In which form it was expressed I can no longer say.

Q. Well then, perhaps we can help you on that. I will ask you be shown Document 1517-PS. It becomes Exhibit USA-824.

(Witness handed document.)

Now, this is also a memorandum of yours written by you about a discussion you had with Hitler on 14 December, 1941, and it is quite clear from the first paragraph that you and Hitler were discussing a speech which you were to deliver in the Sportpalast in Berlin and if you will look at the second paragraph,, you will find these words:-

"I remarked on the Jewish question that the comments about the New York Jews must perhaps be changed somewhat after the conclusion (of matters in the East). I took the standpoint not to speak of the extermination (Ausrottung) of the Jews. The Fuehrer affirmed this and said that they had thrust the war upon us and that they had brought the destruction; it is no wonder if the results would strike them first."

[Page 64]

Now, you have indicated that you have some difficulty with the meaning of that word and I am going to ask you about the word "Ausrottung." I am going to ask you be shown - you are familiar with the Standard German-English dictionary, Cassell's, I suppose, are you? Do you know this work, ever heard of it?

A. No.

Q. This is something you will be interested in. Will you look up and read out to the Tribunal what the definition of "Ausrottung" is?

A. I do not need a foreign dictionary in order to explain what various meanings in the German language the word "Ausrottung" may have. One can exterminate an idea, an economic system, a social order and, as a final consequence, also a group of human beings, certainly. Those are the many possibilities which are contained in that word. For that I do not need an English-German dictionary. Translations from German into English are so often wrong. For example, in that last document you have submitted to me, I heard again the translation of "Herrenrasse." In the document itself "Herrenrasse" is not even mentioned, however, there is the term "ein falsches; Herrenmenschentum" (a false master mankind). Apparently everything is translated here in another sense.

Q. All right, I am not interested in that. Let us deal on this term of "Ausrottung." I take it then that you agree it does mean to wipe out or to kill off, as it is understood, and that you did use the term in speaking to Hitler.

A. Here again I hear a different translation, which again used new German words, so I cannot determine what you wanted to express in English.

Q. Are you very serious in pressing this apparent inability of yours to agree with me about this word or are you trying to kill time? Don't you know that there are plenty of people in this Court room who speak German and who agree that that word does mean to wipe out, to extirpate?

A. It means to overcome in one sense and then it is to be used not with respect to individuals but rather to juridical entities, to certain historical traditions. In another sense, the word has been used with respect to the German people and we have not believed that it meant that sixty millions of Germans would be shot.

Q. I want to remind you that this speech of yours in which you use the term "Ausrottung" was made about six months after Himmler told Hoess, whom you heard on this witness stand, to start exterminating the Jews. That is a fact, is it not?

A. No, that is not correct, for Adolf Hitler said in his statement before the Reichstag: Should a new world war be started by the attacks of the emigrants and their backers, then as a consequence there would be extermination and extirpation. That has been taken as a political threat. Apparently, a similar political threat was made by me before the war against America broke out. And, when the war had already broken out, I have apparently said that, since it has come to this, there is no use in talking about it any more.

Q. Well, actually, the Jews were being exterminated in the Eastern occupied Territories at that time and thereafter, weren't they?

A. Then, may I perhaps say something about the use of the words here? We are speaking here of extermination of Jewry; there is also still a difference between Jewry and individual Jews.

Q. I asked you if it wasn't a fact that at that time and later on Jews were being exterminated in the occupied Eastern Territories which were under your ministry? Will you answer that, "Yes" or "No"?

A. Yes. I quoted a document on that yesterday.

Q. Yes, and after that you told the Tribunal or, as I understand you at least, you wanted the Tribunal to believe that that was being done by the police and without any of your people being involved in it. Is that so?

[Page 65]

A. I have heard from a witness here that a District Commissar had participated in these things in Vilna, and I have heard from another witness that the report came through that the police were carrying it out in other cities. From Document 1184 I gathered that a District Commissar opposed in every possible way and protested against these so-called "Schweinerei." Q. Dr. Leibbrandt was your subordinate; he was in charge of Division 2 in your Ministry for the occupied Eastern Territories wasn't he? A. Yes, for a time. Q. All right. Now, for the second time, I'll ask that you be shown Document 3663-PS, Exhibit USA-825. (Witness was handed the document.) Q. (Continuing) Now, this document consists of three parts as you will notice. The first page is a letter written by Dr. Leibbrandt on the stationery of the Reich Minister for the occupied Eastern Territories and it is dated 31 October, 1941; that's not very many days before you had your conversation with the Fuehrer about your speech, and it is addressed to the Reichskommissioner for the East in Riga; that was Lohse, the man whom you recommended.

The letter says:-

"The Reich and Security Main Office has complained that the Reichskommissioner for the East has forbidden execution of Jews in Libau. I request a report in regard to this matter by return mail. By order (signed) Dr. Leibbrandt."
Now, if you will turn to the next page, you'll see the answer. Turn that document over if you have the original? You'll see the answer, dated Riga, 15 November, 1941, to the Reich Minister for the occupied Eastern Territories, Berlin.
"Re: Execution of Jews, re decree."
It refers to the letter of Leibbrandt, apparently, of 31 October, 1941, and it says:-
"I have forbidden the wild execution of Jews in Liepdja because they were not justifiable in the manner in which they were carried out. I should like to be informed whether your inquiry of 31 October is to be regarded as a directive to liquidate all Jews in the East. Shall this take place without regard to age and sex and economic interests of the Wehrmacht, for instance, and specialists in the armament industry?"
And there's a note in different handwriting:-
"Of course, the cleansing of the East of Jews is a necessary task. Its solution, however, must be harmonised with the necessities of war production."
It continues:-
"So far, I have not been able to find such a directive, either in the regulations regarding the Jewish question in the Brown Portfolio or in other decrees."
Now, that has the initial "L" for "Lohse," doesn't it, at the bottom of it.

And then, if you'll look at the third page - no, it's another document. There are only two parts to that document.

Now, I wish that you'll look at Document 3666-PS, which becomes Exhibit USA-826.

THE PRESIDENT: That has on it the initial "L," has it?

MR. DODD: The original has, your Honour, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: And the defendant agrees that that is the initial of Lohse, is that right?

THE WITNESS: That could hardly be Lohse. I don't know Lohse's initial. I don't know.

MR. DODD: Well, it's very -

THE WITNESS: It could also be Leibbrandt, I don't know.

[Page 66]


Q. You're not willing to say that that second letter was from Lohse and that that's his initial on the bottom of it?

A. That I cannot say.

Q. All right.

A. That I cannot say because usually these letters are sent typewritten and mailed to many places.

Q. Well, we're -

A. This note on the back is not quite clear to me. Essentially, however, it means that there was a protest against police measures which had become known and that an instruction -

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