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 6 of 6)

[DR. JAHRREISS continues his direct examination of August Winter]

[Page 61]

Q. Do you know the details about Karkov?

A. I know about Karkov for certain, because something happened there which caused us to adopt certain security measures. In the battles along the west border of Karkov, which were rather long and serious, a divisional staff - I cannot remember the number of its members - was killed by a delayed-action explosion of this kind. This caused orders to be issued for the carrying out of special security searches in all buildings which had to be used for accommodation of staffs and other authorities from that time on.

Q. Did you, witness, actually handle a Russian map or see one which indicated plans for such blowing-up operations?

A. No, I cannot remember seeing such a map.

Q. Now another point. You said a few moments ago that Field Marshal von Rundstedt was your commanding officer. Who was your chief?

A. Infantry General von Sodenstern.

Q. Now, another subject. If I remember correctly, Field Marshal von Rundstedt retired at that time or was dismissed, is that right?

A. When the attack on Rostov failed in November 1941, and permission to withdraw his leading units had been refused by the OKH, Field Marshal von Rundstedt sent a report to the OKH in which he said that if the necessary confidence was not felt in his leadership, he must ask the Fuehrer to nominate a new commander for that Army group. I have a painfully accurate recollection of this incident because I myself drafted the telegram and the Field Marshal made that addition with his own hand.

The telegram was dispatched in the evening and Hitler's answer, relieving him of his post, arrived in the course of the same night.

Q. So that his application was granted?

A. The application was granted; but perhaps I may tell you that there were repercussions later. A few days afterwards Hitler himself flew to Mariupol in order to obtain information about the actual situation on the spot. On his homeward flight, he visited Field Marshal von Rundstedt's Poltava H.Q. and had a verbal discussion with him. In the course of this discussion, Hitler - I cannot tell you for certain whether I witnessed this scene myself or whether the Chief Adjutant Oberst Schmundt told me about it immediately afterwards - I repeat, there was a personal discussion in the course of which Hitler severely reprimanded the Field Marshal for putting forward that alternative, and said to him:

"In future I do not intend to tolerate any such applications to resign. When I have once made a decision, the responsibility is transferred to me. I myself am not in a position to go to my superior officer - for instance, God Almighty - and to say to him: 'I am not going on with it because I do not want to take the responsibility'."
We considered at the time that that scene was of basic importance, and I may add that, to judge from the orders given later on that point, our impression was correct.

Q. Do you know, witness; whether Hitler at some later date altered his decision as to any future applications to resign?

[Page 62]

A. No, he certainly did not alter his decision, because, as I know definitely, there were two occasions on which orders to that effect were issued, forbidding applications to resign on the part of Commanders-in-Chief or officers in leading positions on grounds of unwillingness to assume responsibility.

Q. I now come to another point. If I am properly informed, you were in the Operations Staff during the later stages of the war, were you not?

A. On 15th November, 1944, I was called to succeed General Warlimont, who had fallen ill; and I took over his functions on 15th November, 1944. My appointment was dated from 1st December, 1944.

Q. Witness, did you regularly attend the situation conferences with the Fuehrer?

A. Yes, I was there on an average of five days out of seven during the week.

Q. There has been a great deal of discussion in this courtroom about these situation conferences, and a great many events took place at them which are of importance for this trial; but up to now, no graphic picture has yet been presented to us of what the "situation conferences" really were. Can you explain the procedure of one of these conferences with reference to its length and the number of people present?

A. They were a permanent part of the afternoon's programme and were attended by a fairly large number of people. There was also a second conference at 2.00 o'clock in the morning, in which reports were made only by the junior General Staff, officers of the OKH and the Eastern front and the Operational Staff for the Western front.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. President, I have a submission again in the interest of time; the defendant Jodl gave evidence as to these conferences and no one put one word of cross-examination to suggest that his evidence was not accepted. Therefore, I would like to submit that this is pure repetition on a point which is not disputed.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not wish to hear anything of a general or detailed nature about these conferences unless there is something in particular that you want to prove about them.

DR. JAHRREISS: Mr. President, so as to clarify matters, may I ask at this time whether the objection raised by Mr. Roberts means that in this case the rule applies that something which has not been challenged in cross-examination can be considered proved? I am not sure whether I have made myself understood. The objection from the prosecutor apparently is based on the supposition that something has been heard -

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think you need lay down any hard and fast rules, but General Jodl gave general evidence about the nature of these "situation conferences" and he was not cross-examined on it. It does not seem at all necessary to go into the general nature of these conferences with any other witness.

DR. JAHRREISS: Thank you.


Q. Witness, it is possible in military life for an officer to receive an order with which he does not agree, is it not?

A. Yes.

Q. In that case, is it possible for him to put his dissenting opinion on record?

A. In the German Army, if I remember rightly, such a possibility existed from the time of Moltke. An order from Hitler which came out in '38 - I think, in the winter of '38-'39 - removed such a possibility once and for all. An order was issued at the time prohibiting chiefs of general staffs and command authorities from putting their dissenting opinions on record.

Q. In order to avoid creating difficulties for the interpretation, will you please explain the word "Aktenkundig"?

[Page 63]

A. According to that it was not possible to include in the official files, or the War Diary of events kept by command staffs, a note to the effect that the Chief was not in agreement with the decision or order of his superior.

Q. It was cancelled?

A. These possibilities used to exist, but after 1938 were done away with.

Q. Thank you, General. I am now going to have a document shown to you. D-606, a document which the prosecution submitted during cross-examination also three days ago. I am afraid I do not know the exhibit number. Perhaps it is -

MR. ROBERTS: Well, that's the number 3606. It is Exhibit GB 292, my Lord. I put it in separately in cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Jahrreiss.


Q. Witness, do you know this document?

A. I am acquainted with the document. It has my file reference number on it.

Q. Did you write it yourself?

A. No, General Jodl wrote it personally, but 1 can see a Blank space under Figure 11. I do not know whether it is complete. The document consists of a preliminary draft, which is not contained here; but now I have looked at it, I can see that it is dealt with in the file copy from my Quartermaster's Department. The third copy must have been attached to the same records.

Immediately after the attacks on Dresden, when Hitler had raised the question of renouncing the Geneva Convention, this preliminary draft was drawn up at my headquarters upon the responsibility of General Jodl, and the order stated that all aspects should be worked out which would prevent the Fuehrer from deciding to renounce the Geneva Convention. This document was carefully worked out from the point of view of International Law and from the point of view of the psychological effect on the enemy troops as well as on our own. I myself attended to that. The following day, my chief, General Jodl, saw me. He had this document, the details of which I have not checked now, and he told me that he was completely in agreement with this negative attitude but that he had felt obliged to work the draft out more in detail and bring it into line with the information he had from the Navy, and also put it in a shape that would guarantee its success with Hitler in all circumstances, for his idea must not be allowed to be put into practice.

DR. JAHRREISS: Thank you, Mr. President. I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Any other defendant's counsel want to ask questions?

DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the OKW): Mr. President, may I ask whether the prohibition regarding interrogation applies to this witness who, I wish to point out, is a member of the indicted group of the General Staff and of the High Command?

THE PRESIDENT: I do not know whether he is or not, but it does not matter whether he is or not. You can question him before the Commission. I mean, you can call him yourself before the Commission.

DR. LATERNSER: I merely wanted to clarify the matter by means of this question.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, thanks. Dr. Laternser, if there is any witness who is not residing in Nuremberg, you can have him kept for the purpose of having him examined before the Commission if you want to do so.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, I only want to ask one question.



Q. You have told us that Germany attacked the Soviet Union in breach of their non-aggression pact because Germany feared an attack from the Soviet Union.

[Page 64]

A. May I be more precise by saying that we, as General Staff officers in the High Command of an Army Group that was deployed in the Ukraine, were given that reason by our commanding officer.

Q. Very good. We know now from the evidence in this Court that Hitler decided in July, 1940, to attack the Soviet Union; that on 18th December of that year Hitler stated that the Wehrmacht must be prepared to overthrow Soviet Russia in a single rapid campaign. We know that the attack was not until 22nd June, 1941. It does not look as though the leaders of Germany were very much frightened, does it, of Russia, or, rather, of the Soviet Union breaking the non- aggression pact?

(No response.)


Q. Witness, you had to take retaliation measures in the Ukraine, did you not?

A. We did not undertake any reprisals, as far as the troops were concerned in the operational zone of the Ukraine; at least, I have no recollection now of any such instances.

Q. What measures did you take against the resistance of the population?

A. During the entire campaign in which Army Group South was involved, there was no resistance by the population in the operational zone in the Ukraine. Only in rear areas were there fights at that time with straggling Russian troop units. A resistance on the part of the population did not occur, as far as I know, until later, when the operational zone had already been limited in the rear and then there was resistance against political Reich commissioners.

Q. Very well. You were not there at that time?

A. The command to which I belonged was withdrawn from the front at the end of January or in the early days of February, 1943. The rear area lines were at the Dnieper at that time.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. EXNER: Mr. President, in conclusion I have only two interrogatories to submit to the Tribunal and I want to read a few lines from one of them, something which was forgotten.

To begin with, the Interrogatory AJ-8, an interrogatory of Weiszacker, which I herewith submit and beg the Tribunal to take judicial notice of its contents. And then there is AJ-6, an interrogatory of Brudemueller, with reference to which I wish to make a similar request. Then, from the last to be submitted, AJ-12, General Greiffenberg's statement, I should like to quote the important parts. It is a question of the attack against Yugoslavia and the question of whether, after the Simovitsch Putsch, Yugoslavia had already taken up a position against us. This is in the third volume of my Document Book, Page 211. The Simovitsch Putsch was over, and the question was whether there was an immediate threat from Yugoslavia at the time.

"Question: Is it a fact that Yugoslavia, immediately after the coup d'etat of the army, started to deploy her armies on all her borders?

Answer: I know only the front which was opposite the German 12th Army, located at the Bulgarian border. Here the Yugoslavs had deployed their armies at the border.

Question: Is it a fact that the army List of which you were the commander at the time, had the order, before the coup d'etat in Yugoslavia, to respect strictly the neutrality of Yugoslavia during the pending attacks on Greece and that not even supply trains should be despatched through Yugoslavian territory?

Answer: I can testify that the strictest orders had been given to respect Yugoslavia's neutrality.

Question: Did you hear of any violations of these orders?

Answer: No."

[Page 65]

Gentlemen of the Tribunal, a number of interrogatories have not yet come in. Whether we are going to get them or not, I do not know. At any rate, I shall have to reserve to myself the right to submit them later. Apart from that, I have completed my case.

THE PRESIDENT: On Monday the Tribunal will hear the case of the defendant Seyss-Inquart, will it not?

Very well, the Tribunal may adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 10th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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