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 9 of 13)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues his cross examination of Alfred Rosenberg]

[Page 78]

Q. I will question you now concerning the tasks of the German Reich with regard to this matter of oil. Will you look at Page 14 of this same report? You will find it at the very end. This is how you define these tasks:
"The problem of the Eastern Territory consists in transferring the Baltic peoples into the German cultural framework and the preparation of the military frontiers of Germany on a vast scale. The task of the Ukraine is to provide Germany and Europe with foodstuffs and the continent with raw materials. The task in the Caucasus is above all of a political nature, and represents the decisive extension of continental Europe under German supervision from the Caucasus toward the Near East."
Did you read this passage?

A. Yes.

Q. You do not deny that these were the actual plans?

A. I affirm that this is set down correctly, and that it is in accord with the hope that Eastern continental Europe might, some time, be incorporated into the total economic system and economic supply of the rest of the continent, as had been the case before 1914, for at that time the Ukraine was a country of exports of raw materials and foodstuffs.

Q. Yes, your plan concerning the Ukraine, is well known. In this connection I will put the last question concerning aggression. After having seen these documents which you do not deny, do you admit the aggressive and plundering character of Germany's war against the Soviet Union and your personal responsibility for the planning and preparation of this aggression? Answer briefly. Do you admit this or do you not?

A. No.

Q. No? Very well.

A. No, because I did not consider this a war of aggression on our part, but vice versa.

Q. Of course, but we will not go into details,

[Page 79]

I have a few more questions to put to you concerning the German policy in the Eastern Territories.

Who was the highest official in the German administration and Reich Commissariat?

A. The Minister for the occupied Eastern Territories was responsible for the administration and legislation in the Eastern Territory, and the Reich Commissar for the Territorial Governments.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, the Tribunal has already heard all about the administration, the former administration and personnel of the administration.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, I have only two or three more questions in this particular sphere.


Q. Did the General Reich Commissar have the authority to issue orders for the arrest and execution of hostages?

A. At this moment I cannot recall whether he had such authority by law or whether that came under direct police jurisdiction. I cannot answer this question with assurance, for at the moment I do not recall a decree to that effect. But it is not entirely impossible; I do not know.

Q. It was possible. Very well.

I would like to remind you that you personally foresaw in your directive the possibility of issuing such an order. We will pass right on.

A lot has been said here about German policy in occupied territories. I will therefore only put another few questions to you.

First of all, as regards the Ukraine, you here described the situation in such a light as to show that Koch was the sole person responsible for oppressive policy and that you opposed him and were on the contrary, the benefactor of the Ukrainian people.

A. No, that is not correct, I never said that I was a benefactor.

Q. In your document which has been submitted by your defence counsel and which I will therefore not submit to you, Document 19-RO, Riecke wrote in a letter to all Reichsleiters of the Press in November, 1942:-

"Koch has declared 'that the Ukraine is for us only an object of exploitation and that it must pay the expenses of the war and that the people must, as a second grade people, be utilised to a certain extent for the solution of military problems even if they have to be caught with a lasso.'"
This was the policy of Koch in the Ukraine. There are documents which were submitted by your counsel. I will ask you now. Did you write to Koch on December 14?

A. May I reply to that? I have not the original document in front of me. I only know that it was a letter written by Riecke to me containing a bitter complaint, which so many others also did, and that he requested me ...

Q. Of Koch?

A. Yes ...

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has been all over this matter of Koch as to the Ukraine today and so it is not helping the Tribunal to go over it again.

GENERAL RUDENKO: All right, Mr. President.


Q. Yesterday you stated here repeatedly, in your explanations as regards the atrocities and extermination of the Soviet population, that you were not informed and that these were police measures. Did I understand you correctly?

A. No, that is not exactly true. I was informed of many battles with partisans and bands and, as I have stated, about many shootings, and also I was told about the fact that German agricultural leaders, German officials and policemen and peaceful Soviet farmers were attacked by these partisans and bands and were murdered by thousands.

[Page 80]

Q. Very well. We know that the partisans who fought against enemies of the country were called bandits by you and treated accordingly. I do not argue that. But I am speaking of the extermination of the civilian population, of old men, women and children. Did you know that?

A. In these battles we tried very much to protect the farming population and others too, and when we heard about what appeared to us to be excessive measures by the police, we put the most severe demands to them that, even in the full heat of battle, every effort was to be made to protect peaceful citizens. The police told us that it was easy to make those demands from behind a desk, but if, in White Ruthenia, the partisans murder and burn five hundred White Ruthenian Burgomasters with their families in their houses and we are shot at from the rear, then terrible conflicts were unavoidable.

Q. I will remind you that in your directive concerning occupied territories and organisation of administration and the primary task for administration, you personally planned as your first task the police measures. Do you deny this now? I ask you, do you deny this now?

A. If it is Document 1056, I proposed seven urgent measures. I cannot tell you at the moment which is the first one here. I ask that you submit this document to me.

Q. All right. I will ask that you be shown one paragraph of this document. "The police measures" which is in the very first place.

THE PRESIDENT: Has this document been put to him?


THE PRESIDENT: What is the use of going into it again?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, defendant Rosenberg asked for it. I would only like to say that the defendant tried to say that he was not informed and that these were purely police measures. I am now going to prove that he made his primary task the carrying out of these police measures.

A. It goes without saying that in an occupied territory in the middle of such a war the police are responsible for their own security measures. And the third point is "the supply of the population with foodstuffs in order to avoid famine." I repeat, "supply of the population in order to avoid famine."

Q. Very well. Very well. We heard about this in detail yesterday. I have a few last questions to put to you. First of all, I would like to ask you about the Yuman incident. The document has already been submitted to the Tribunal, but I consider it my duty as a representative of the Soviet Union to put to you this question concerning the shooting of Soviet citizens for the pure reason that a stretch of land was needed as a hunting ground. You remember this document?

A. Yes, I gave an extensive explanation of it yesterday.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, this has been gone into already, before the Tribunal. Why should the Tribunal's time be taken up by going over and over again the same ground? We have said that We Would not have things done cumulatively.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, a few details of this question are of great importance, and the defendant did not explain them, therefore I would like very much to ask this question.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, the Tribunal will adjourn to consider the matter.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, the Tribunal will rise tomorrow afternoon at half-past four. Now, as to this question, the Tribunal thinks that the matter has been sufficiently gone into, but, if there is a particular point which has not been dealt with before, a question may be asked in that connection.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Very well, Mr. President.

[Page 81]


Q. Defendant Rosenberg, on 2 April, 1943, you addressed a letter to Himmler regarding this incident, regarding the shooting of hundreds of Soviet citizens in the region of Yuman because this place was needed as a hunting ground. Didn't you address such a letter to Himmler? What were the results of this letter?

A. First, I wrote to the responsible Chief of the German Police and I had to wait for whatever measures of security in the Ukraine he would take, as a responsible official. When I did not receive any further information, I used this case for a personal complaint to the Fuehrer.

Q. When did you report it to Hitler?

A. This complaint to the Fuehrer was dealt with in the middle of May, 1943, and, although it was a rather lengthy complaint, which I had reached him several weeks earlier, only 5 or 6 weeks elapsed between 2 April and the day it was dealt with, the middle or end of May. That is, I believe, a very short time for dealing with a complaint because, first it had to be investigated rather thoroughly by Lammers and Bormann; then it had to be reported to the Fuehrer. The Fuehrer then had to make his decision and give his directives; and then I was summoned.

Q. When was this complaint discussed for the last time?

A. In May, between the middle and the end of May, 1943.

Q. Was it discussed in the presence of Koch?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. Yesterday you told the Tribunal that Koch presented a report to Hitler, a memorandum from the Main Forestry Office.

A. Yes.

Q. Therefore this memorandum confirmed that it was a struggle against the guerrillas?

A. Not exactly like that; but it said that this forest district had to be utilised for the necessary supply of timber for the Armed Forces or the Administration, and that these forests harboured many restless partisans and guerrilla bands; therefore, there was great danger for the workers in these districts, and it had come to skirmishes between them and partisans and guerrilla bands; and, since one could not watch over all of them, a transfer of certain groups from these forest districts into forest areas further south took place. Koch added that then many of these people who had been transferred expressed their thanks for having received better land than they had had before. That was the information that Koch had given.

Q. They were grateful that one December night they were evicted from their houses and taken away hundreds of kilometers, and hundreds of them were shot. They appreciated that very much. However, I should like to ask you the following: In your letter to Hitler, on 29 April, 1943, you also attached the memorandum from the Main Forestry Office, and in this memorandum from the Forestry Office it is stated - I am going to read this passage. You should remember this incident, this terrible incident when men were shot because hunting ground was needed.

In the memorandum of the Forestry Office it is stated:

"There is no doubt that several villages located in the forest region of Yuman were evacuated principally in order to create a hunting area."
This is stated in the memorandum of the Forestry Office.

A. I only want to point out that we are dealing here with an assistant for forestry in Berlin, who had added that, on the basis of his reports. What Koch had produced was a report from the Chief of the People's administration in the Ukraine.

Q. All right. The last question in connection with this incident: Did you believe Koch when he stated that?

[Page 82]

A. It is difficult to answer that conscientiously, but was a ... (a) description of actual conditions by the Forestry Administration was included, and I could not protest against that version, which was well-founded, and I had to admit to myself that I had made a mistake in this protect.

Q. You did not protest against that, I quite understand. I shall finish by just reminding you of one quotation from your letter:

"Hundreds of people in and around Yuman were shot by a whole police company 'because they were communistically inclined.' No Ukrainian believes that. The Germans are also astonished by this argument because, of this was done for the safety of the country, then the communist- infected elements in other regions should have been executed at the same time."
I have here to put to you the last question. Here in the Tribunal yesterday several times you declared that you wanted to resign from your post. Moreover, you spoke about your letter to Hitler, dated 12 December, 1944, where you asked for directives for the future - regarding this my colleague, Mr. Dodd, has already reminded you that at that date, December, 1944, the Reich Minister of the Eastern Territories no longer had any territories, because the Germans were out of Russia by that time. I would like to ask you the following question:

How could you ask to be relieved of your post, you, who for years had dreamed about getting this position of Reich Minister and even becoming a member of the Secret Cabinet? You asked Hitler for this position of Reich Minister. Do you remember that?

A. In the first place I was never a member of the so-called Secret Cabinet. That is not correct.

Q. (Interposing) Well, I shall correct myself. You dreamed of becoming a member of the Secret Cabinet.

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And also dreamed of becoming Reich Minister; is that also true?

A. When the question as to my post became acute, there was a long discussion one way and another about the form of that task. Dr. Lammers, as Deputy of the Fuehrer, told me that the Fuehrer intended either to appoint a Reich Inspector because he wanted to ...

Q. Defendant Rosenberg, please. So that we shall not linger too long on that question, I am going to submit to the Tribunal a document. This is your personal letter, the last document ...

THE PRESIDENT: In the first place, I do not know what the question is, and you are interrupting the witness before he has answered any question.

GENERAL RUDENKO: No, Mr. President. I have one aim here, namely, to shorten my interrogation in accordance with the desire of the Tribunal. So I am going to submit the letter of Rosenberg of 6 February, 1938, addressed to Hitler, where he requests this post from Hitler. That is a short letter. I ask permission to submit the document. We are submitting this document as Exhibit USSR 117.

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