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 Fiftieth Day: Saturday, 8th June, 1946
(Part 4 of 6)

[DR. STAHMER continues his direct examination of Herbert Buchs]

[Page 53]

Q. Can you still remember the suggestions that were made regarding that transport and who made them?

A. No. I believe at that time the Fuehrer only said in general terms that these imprisoned officers could not receive better treatment than our own people. It was just at the time of the evacuation of Silesia; our traffic situation did not permit the transport of even our own people by means of railway trains or in large columns, and the population had to tramp along the roads even in winter. I think I remember that at the time the Fuehrer said: "If these officers wish to be taken along on a transport, they will have to march just like the German civilian population."

DR. STAHMER: May I, Mr. President, in connection with this statement, refer to an error in the record. During the cross-examination of the defendant Goering on 20th March, 1946, Document PS-3786, Exhibit USA 787, was presented. In the German record, after a discussion of how they should be transported, there is a statement that the Fuehrer said: "They will have to go even if they march in 'dreck' (filth)." The actual text is: "They will have to go even if they trek (Treck) on foot." That is quite a different thing. I do not know how the word is translated in the English text; but that, of course, would give it a very different and entirely wrong meaning. As the witness has just said, the Fuehrer said, "They have got to go even if they have to trek on foot."

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Now, the Tribunal thinks that the best way to deal with these questions of translation is to take it up with the General Secretary and get it submitted to the Translation Division.

DR. STAHMER: I merely wanted to establish the fact.


Q. A remark is supposed to have been made in the course of that conference, during the discussion on transport: "Take off their boots and trousers so that they cannot walk in the snow."

Do you remember who made that remark?

A. No, I cannot remember.

Q. You do not remember any such remark, or by whom it was made?

A. It is perfectly possible that Fegelein made such a suggestion in some connection or other; I do not know.

Q. According to the record, Reichsmarschall Goering is supposed to have made such a remark.

A. I think that is quite out of the question. In this connection may I just mention that it was extremely difficult to take notes of the proceedings. Four to six people frequently spoke at once during these conferences - and much more rapidly than usual. The stenographers could only take down what they heard. They could neither look up nor make certain who actually made such and such a remark at such and such a moment. There was a table round which there were

[Page 54]

often some thirty people standing; and that even interfered with the work of the stenographers.

DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions.

DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the OKW): Mr. President, at this point of the trial I feel obliged to make a statement. I wanted to ask this witness some important questions; but I am not in a position to do so because of the decision announced by the Tribunal today. I state that through that decision I -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Laternser, you will have full opportunity to put the questions to the witness before the Commission.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, may I please complete my statement?

I have explained that as a result of the decision announced today, I am not in a position to put my questions, and that I must submit to that decision. I wish to state, however, that I consider this decision -

THE PRESIDENT: But it is inaccurate to say you are not in a position to put your questions. You are not able to put your questions now to the witness, but it is not true to say that you are not in a position to put your questions without further qualification. You are in a position to put your questions to the witness before the Commission.

DR. LATERNSER: Nevertheless, Mr. President, I feel there is an impediment for the defence, constituted by the fact that the defence of the organizations is thus not in a position to present its evidence directly.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has announced its decision.

DR. LATERNSER: I only regret, Mr. President, that that decision was announced without the defence having first been notified.

DR. LOFFLER (counsel for the SA): I should like to add in connection with the statements of my colleague Laternser that I must emphasize them because -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): On what point, Dr. Loffler?

DR. LOFFLER: On the point that the witnesses called today cannot be questioned by defence counsel for the organizations, as has been the custom until now, and that is in so far a disadvantage to the defence because for all practical purposes we lose these witnesses altogether.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Loffler you and Dr. Laternser seem not to have read Article 9 of the Charter, which provides that the Tribunal may direct in what manner the applicants shall be represented and heard. That is with reference to the organizations. The Tribunal, after very great trouble, has brought to Nuremberg a very large number of witnesses and has set up commissions for the purpose of examining those witnesses, and they are going to hear some witnesses from among those witnesses at a future date in this court.

The Tribunal has given the matter full consideration and it does not desire to hear any further arguments from you or from any other of the counsel for the organizations.

DR. LOFFLER: Mr. President, we appreciate the Tribunal's grounds but we feel obliged to point out from the point of view of the defence that these reasons are justified in theory, but entail in practice the loss of witnesses.

I ask permission, therefore, to give you a very brief explanation so that the Tribunal will understand why we lose those witnesses. You, Mr. President, have said that they can be heard before the Commission. These witnesses cannot be heard before the Commission because the number -

[Page 55]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Loffler, the Tribunal, as I have told you, have already considered this matter, and it may be that they will consider it further, but they do not desire to hear any further argument about it. It is a matter entirely within their discretion, and they have been at very great pains to provide that the applicants who wish to be heard in respect to these organizations shall be fully and thoroughly heard.

The Tribunal will not hear you further at this stage.

DR. LOFFLER: May I give one explanation -

THE PRESIDENT: Did you hear what I said? I said the Tribunal will not hear you further at this stage.

DR. LOFFLER: Very well.


MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, I have only a few questions.


Q. Your memory of that conference does not seem to be entirely clear.

A. May I ask which conference?

Q. Will you repeat this, I did not have my earphones on.

A. May I ask which conference?

Q. The conference that you last mentioned, with regard to the evacuation of the prisoners of Sagan.

A. I am not aware that it was incorrect in any point.

Q. Well, but you say that you do not remember any mention being made of the prisoners having to walk through the snow without their boots on.

A. Yes, that is what I said.

Q. And you know that it is - I cannot find the actual place; I had no idea this exhibit was going to be referred to - but you know that that is in the actual stenographer's notes, do you not?

A. So it was said.

Q. Yes. And you would agree with me that the stenographer could hardly put that remark down unless it was said?

A. Yes.

Q. But you did not hear the remark; therefore you do not know who said it?

A. Yes.

Q. That is all I ask on that.

I just ask on one other matter: In April of 1945 did Fegelein attain the status of becoming Hitler's brother-in-law, when Hitler got married?

A. Yes.

Q. And two days afterwards, was Fegelein shot on the orders of his new found brother-in-law?

A. Yes.

MR. ROBERTS: That is all.

DR. JAHRREISS: I have no further question to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can retire.

DR. JAHRREISS: With the permission of the Tribunal, I now call the witness, Professor Dr. Schramm.

PERCY ERNST SCHRAMM, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Percy Ernst Schramm.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

[Page 56]



Q. Witness, were you in the Wehrmacht Operations Staff during the war?

A. Yes. From March 1943 onwards, I was a member of the Wehrmacht Operational Staff.

Q. Until the end?

A. Until the end; that is to say, the beginning of May 1945.

Q. What was your position?

A. During my entire time in the Wehrmacht Operational Staff I kept the war diary of that Staff.

Q. Was there a special reason why you received that task?

A. My appointment to the Wehrmacht Operational Staff was due to the fact that I am in civilian life Professor of History at the University of Gottingen. At that time an expert was sought whose name would constitute a guarantee for expert work. General Jodl appointed me to the position at the suggestion of the Deputy Chief.

Q. If you were to write a war diary in the way a historian would wish to do, you would require an insight into all the events connected with that staff, would you not?

A. Yes. I did not attend the Fuehrer's situation conferences or the internal conferences; but I did participate every day in the situation conferences of the Wehrmacht Operational Staff, and every important document passed through my office during those two years.

Q. Witness, considering that you had perhaps more insight into the activities of the Wehrmacht Operational Staff than anyone else, I should like you to tell us here what you know of the range of General Jodl's activities.

A. It is impossible to over-estimate the range of the General's activities. As proof of this, I may say that in 1944 alone, according to information which I received from the competent officer, 60,000 teleprint messages went through the teleprint department of the Wehrmacht Operational Staff. There was also a large courier correspondence, which, of course, was even larger. Then there was internal correspondence between individual departments. The bulk of that correspondence appeared on the General's desk at some time or other. To look at it from another angle, the General was responsible for four theatres of war: North Finland and Norway, West Holland, Belgium, France; then the Southwest, in the first place Africa and Italy, and then the South-east.

Q. Please speak more slowly.

A. It was the General's task not only to have up-to-date information based on incoming reports, but also to act as operational adviser to the Fuehrer.

Q. Did I understand you correctly as saying that the four theatres you have just mentioned were the so-called OKW main theatres of war?

A. Precisely. The East was under the General Staff of the Army and the General was concerned only in so far as the main difficulty always lay in co-ordinating the interests of the other theatres of war with those of the Eastern Front.

Q. Did I understand you correctly as mentioning 60,000 teleprint messages in a year?

A. Yes, 60,000; I remember the exact figure. I also remember it exactly because my clerk calculated that 120 volumes of files passed through the War Diary office, and that they were so (indicating) thick.

Q. Perhaps you may be able to help us with a question which has been repeatedly touched upon here but to which no precise answer has ever been given. Do you know anything about an order from Hitler saying that generals must not resign?

A. Yes; I remember that very exactly from an order which appeared in the middle of 1944, repeating and stressing an order issued before my time -

[Page 57]

that must have been during 1940 or 1941. That order was about one and a half typewritten pages in length and most forcefully worded. Its contents are still clear in my mind because I discussed it afterwards with several of my comrades. The order stated that every commanding officer - and the departments under him correspondingly - was entitled to raise any objections he might have to the measures of the Supreme Command, but that he would then have to obey unconditionally the order given him by higher quarters; that is to say, he would have to do something which meant acting contrary to his intentions. It added that it was impossible for an Army Commander to resign in consequence of this. The reason stated was that NCO's in the trenches could not tell their company commanders that they wanted to resign when they were not in agreement with his orders.

I repeat, it was so emphatically worded, that we talked about it a great deal. From that time on, the Army Commanders had even less chance of evading an order from the Supreme Command.

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