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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th June to 19th June 1946

One Hundred and Forty-Ninth Day: Friday, 7th June, 1946
(Part 7 of 10)

[COLONEL POKROVSKY continues his cross examination of ALFRED JODL]

[Page 24]

Q. This general was chief of the department in charge of prisoners of war in one of your military districts. Do you perhaps remember this general's remark about the directive he had received from von Gravenitz in the OKW with respect to the Soviet prisoners of war? You will now be shown Exhibit USSR 151, Page 5 of the German text. You will find there the passage to which I should like to draw your attention.
"At the end of 1941, or the beginning of 1942, I was called to Berlin to attend a conference held by the commanders in charge of prisoners of war in the military districts. The newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Prisoner-of-war Department, Major General von Gravenitz, presided over the conference.

During the conference there was a discussion about the treatment of prisoners of war who, because of their wounds or from exhaustion and illness, were unable to work. At the suggestion of General von Gravenitz several of the officers present, among them many doctors, declared that such prisoners of war should be concentrated in a camp or in a hospital and poisoned.

Following this discussion, Major General von Gravenitz issued an order to the effect that all prisoners of war who were unable to work should be killed, and that medical personnel should be employed for this purpose."

Did you know anything at all about that?

A. I knew nothing about that at all, and I cannot comment on this document. It has nothing to do with me and I do not know whether what has been said here

[Page 25]

is true, but General von Gravenitz must certainly know about it. I had no connection whatsoever with prisoners of war. That was another office. General Reinecke.

Q. Von Gravenitz himself defends his statement. He was an executive; he put he directives of the OKW into effect and also issued the relevant instructions, and yet you tell me you knew nothing about them?

A. I did not say that. General von Gravenitz was no subordinate of mine. I had no interviews of any kind with him. I have seen him perhaps twice in all my life. I was not responsible for prisoners of war, and I was not competent to deal with them.

Q. Very well. We will now pass on to my last group of questions. There are very few of them.

When defendant Keitel was cross-examined here before the Tribunal, as well as in the preliminary interrogations - I believe these particular subjects arose during the preliminary interrogations - he said that you would give us more detailed information about directives for the destruction of Moscow and Leningrad. You stated here, before the Tribunal, that the directives were issued for two reasons; firstly, because General von Leeb had reported on the gradual flight of the Leningrad population to the vest and south through the front lines, and secondly they were issued as a reprisal for Kiev. Is that correct?

A. Not reprisals, but the justifiable fear that what happened to us in Kiev could also happen to us in Leningrad, and the third reason was the announcement by the Soviet Russian radio that this would actually take place.

Q. Good. The only important thing for me is to establish the fact that you connected the issuing of this directive with the report from the Leningrad front and with affairs in Kiev; is that correct?

A. I did not connect them, but events, as they happened, necessarily influenced the decision of the Fuehrer in this direction. These were the reasons which he gave himself.

Q. Very well. Perhaps you will remember when the Supreme Command received this directive - in what month?

A. It was in the first days - as far as I remember - in the first days of September.

Q. Very well. Perhaps you can also remember the date on which the Germans captured Kiev. Was it not towards the end of September, 1941?

A. As far as I remember, Kiev was occupied at the end of August. I believe it was on 25th August or round about that period. But I cannot -

Q. Was that not on 22nd September?

A. That is entirely out of the question. We have a document here, a report about the incidents in Kiev, I do not know the date of it from memory, but it is Document 053-PS. We must be able to see the date from that document.

Q. It is precisely in that document that 23rd and 24th September are mentioned. Well, let us, however, suppose that it really did happen in August. Would you not remember the date when Hitler first declared that Leningrad should be razed to the ground?

A. I beg your pardon. I have made a mistake all the time about the date. This document is Document 323-C, it is the Fuehrer decree, dated 7th October. So, your statement may be correct. I was a month out in my calculations, and the taking of Kiev was actually at the end of September. The reports which we received from Leeb came in the first days of October. I made a mistake. I am sorry.

Q. Please do not mention it, it is of no importance. I only want you to remember when Hitler first stated categorically that he would raze Leningrad to the ground. That is important for me.

A. You are referring to the naval document, I assume, the document of the SKL, the Naval War Staff.

Q. You will now be handed Document 291-L, and will be shown the passage where it is written how, on 16th July, 1941, during a conference at Hitler's head-

[Page 26]

quarters, the following statement was made: "The Finns are claiming the district of Leningrad. The Fuehrer wants to raze Leningrad to the ground and then hand it over to the Finns." Have you found the passage?

A. Yes, I have found the place.

Q. This took place on 16th July, 1941, did it not?

A. The document was written on 16th July, yes.

Q. That was considerably earlier than the date you received the report from the Leningrad front?

A. Yes, it was three months before then.

Q. It was also long before the day when explosions and fires first occurred in Kiev. Is that correct?

A. Quite correct.

Q. It was clearly not by accident that in the directive you drew up yourself and in the statements you made before the Tribunal, you declared that the Fuehrer had again decided to raze Leningrad to the ground. It was not the first time he had made this decision.

A. No, this decision, if it actually was a decision - and the statements made at this conference - I learned about them for the first time here in Court. I personally did not take part in the discussion, nor do I know whether the words were said in that way. My remark that the Fuehrer had again taken a decision refers to the verbal order he had given shortly before, to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, perhaps one or two days earlier. It is quite clear that there was already talk of this, and that, in the Order, I am referring to a letter of the Army High Command of 18th September and in that way the word "again" is to be explained. I was quite unaware of the fact and I heard of it for the first time here in Court. It was only here in Court that I heard of the conference having taken place at all.

Q. Very well. The Tribunal will probably be able to judge precisely when Hitler made this statement for the first time.

You have declared that you knew nothing about reprisals against the Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. And yet you have just referred to Document 053-PS. It is a report from Koch, personally signed by him. Maybe you will confirm that it states quite clearly that Koch held the civilian population of the city responsible for the Kiev fires and destroyed the entire Jewish population of Kiev, numbering some 35,000 souls, over half of whom were women. That is what the report says. Is it correct?

A. I know that very well indeed, but I only found this document here in the document room, and I used it as a good piece of evidence for the incidents in Kiev. The existence of the document was unknown to me until I came to Nuremberg and it never went to the OKW. At all events, it never came into my hands. I do not know whether it was ever even sent.

Q. You also did not know whether the Jews were destroyed or not? Is that true?

A. I certainly believe it today. There can be no more doubt about that, it has been proved.

Q. Very well. In the document submitted by your defence counsel as Exhibit Jodl 3, Page 6 of your Document Book, in the last entry made on that page, you will read the following:

"A large proportion of the older generals will retire from the Army."
This refers to the entry in your diary of 3rd February, 1938. Do you remember?

A. Yes, that is from my diary.

Q. Are we to understand that resignations from the Army could take place at any time, in other words that any general could retire or resign from the Army whenever he wanted to? That is what you say here.

A. At that time, I believe it was quite possible. In the year 1938, I knew of no decree which prohibited it.

[Page 27]

Q. Very well. In Exhibit Jodl 64, which was submitted by your defence counsel, we find a passage which, for some reason or other, was not read into the record, and I would like to quote it now. It is the testimony of General von Vormann, who states under oath that you, together with General von Hammerstein, often used the expressions "criminal" and "charlatan," when referring to Hitler?

Do you confirm the accuracy of that testimony, or has Vormann expressed himself incorrectly?

A. To the best of my knowledge, and in all good conscience, I believe that he is confusing two things. In talking about the Fuehrer I very often said that I looked on him as a charlatan, but I had no cause or reason to consider him a criminal. I often used the expression "criminal," but not in connection with Hitler whom I did not even know at the time. I applied it to Roehm I repeatedly spoke of him as a criminal in my opinion, and I believe that Vormann is confusing these statements just a little. I often used the expression "charlatan"; that was my opinion at the time.

Q. That is to say, you considered Roehm a criminal and the Fuehrer a charlatan? Is that correct?

A. Yes, that is right, because at that time it was my opinion. I knew Roehm but I did not know Adolf Hitler.

Q. Then how are we to explain that, when the man whom you described as a charlatan had come to power, you accepted leading posts in the military machine of the German Reich?

A. Because in the course of the years I became convinced - at least during the years from 1933 to 1938 - that he was not a charlatan but a man of gigantic personality who, however, in the end assumed diabolical proportions. But at that time he definitely was a personality.

Q. Did you receive the gold party badge of the Hitler Party?

A. I have already testified to that and confirmed it.

Q. In what year did you receive the badge?

A. On 30th January, 1943.

Q. Was it after that when you came to the conclusion that Hitler was not a "charlatan"? Did you hear my question?

A. Yes. It became clear to me then that he had, as I said before, a gigantic personality.

Q. And after you had reached that conclusion you promptly received the gold party badge? I thank you.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I have no more questions, your Honour.

DR. NELTE (counsel for the defendant Keitel): I should like to call the attention of the Tribunal to the Document USSR 151, which was submitted by Colonel Pokrovsky. I should like to ask for this document to be admitted only if General Oesterreich can be produced as a witness for cross-examination. My reasons for this are the following:

1. The document as submitted contains the heading "Aussagen" or "statements," but we cannot make out before whom these statements were made.

2. The document contains no mention of the place where it was drawn up.

3. The document is not an affidavit, although, according to the last paragraph, General Oesterreich set it down in his own handwriting and it should have been certified as a statement under oath.

Because of the severity of the accusation which this document brings forward against the administration of the prisoner-of-war department, it is necessary in my opinion to order this general to appear here in person.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes; go on.

DR. NELTE: Those are the reasons for my request. In conclusion I should just like to point out that General von Gravenitz is no longer alive. At all events, he cannot be located. I tried to find him as a witness on behalf of Keitel.

[Page 28]

THE. PRESIDENT: Is it a fact that this document was offered in evidence as long ago as February or March?

DR. NELTE: I do not remember that, nor - and I know this for certain - was it issued to us through the document division. I am seeing this document for the first time now. But perhaps Colonel Pokrovsky can give some information about it.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider your request.

DR. NELTE: May I also call the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that the document is dated 28th December, 1945, and it is to be assumed that General Oesterreich can also be presented by the people who took his testimony at that time.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Mr. President, I believe that I can give some information about this document. It was submitted by the Soviet Delegation on 12th February, 1946, when it was accepted as evidence by the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, just a moment. Was it translated into German then or was it read in Court?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I have just received a memorandum from our document room. The document was submitted on the 13th February, at the time when I was presenting documentary evidence with regard to the subject of prisoners of war. It is all I have on the matter.

I personally assume that the document was translated into German as a matter of course at that time. I have almost no doubt about it. However, we can easily make sure.


BY DR. EXNER (counsel for the defendant Jodl):

Q. First of all, I should like to put one question which came up recently during the examination by the defence counsel. It was a point which seems to me in need of clarification.

One of the defence counsel reminded you of the photographs which were shown us here, depicting atrocities in the occupied countries, and you said that the pictures were genuine.

What do you mean by that?

A. I meant that they were not the results of trick photography, in which the Russian propagandists were past-masters, according to my experience; that they were pictures of actual events. But I also meant to say that the pictures provided no evidence as to who had committed atrocities. The fact that they were found in the possession of Germans would incline us to assume that they were pictures of things which had been perpetrated by the enemy, by the forces of Tito or the Ustaschi. Generally one does not take a picture of one's own acts of cruelty if any were ever committed.

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