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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
29th July to 8th August 1946

One Hundred and Ninety-Sixth Day: Tuesday, 6th August, 1946
(Part 5 of 10)

[Page 317]

[MR. ELWYN JONES continues his cross examination of Paul Hauser]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I would call your attention to the number, of course, that had reached the stage of being approved by the United Nations War Crimes Commission. That would be necessary to my argument.

THE PRESIDENT: What you are asking is that you wish to make use of the summary which you have?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I want to make a comment.

THE PRESIDENT: The approval of the decision rests with the national authority?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: When I was the Attorney-General, it rested with me. I understand the same procedure is in effect in other countries where it rests with the national authority.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Pelckmann.

DR. PELCKMANN: Whether the evidence which is now before the prosecution is available in the appropriate form and whether, as a report from Allied Governments or from the United Nations War Crimes Commission, it can be used according to Article 21, is something which I cannot personally judge. I leave that confidently in the hands of the Tribunal. What appears important to me is that according to Article 21 the High Tribunal can take cognizance of these things but, in my opinion, only during the prosecution's presentation of evidence. We are now in the middle of submitting evidence for the defence and if the prosecution is making these reports the subject of its cross- examination, then there does not seem to be any objection to that, according to rules of procedure. But, if it is only a judicial notice on the part of the Tribunal without making these reports a part of the cross-examination, I do not think it permissible for the SS witnesses who are being called to define their attitude to these documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Is not that really a matter for the Tribunal to decide? It is a matter of whether the documents should be put in now when the witness can comment on them. Whether it comes under Article 21 is a matter to be decided, that is a matter of law. Whether it should be put in now or after seems to be a matter entirely for the Tribunal.

DR. PELCKMANN: I consider it important to say that if the High Tribunal accept these reports as evidence under Article 21, then, as I see it, I can only assume that the presentation of evidence by the prosecution has been completed in order to put it before the witness. If the documents are put to the witness, I would consider it just if, in view of the extraordinary bulk of the documents, the defence be given sufficient opportunity to prepare itself for examination on these documents. That would take at least two days. To use these documents only for recognition by the Tribunal without examining the witness is, I think,

[Page 318]

not permissible, since the presentation of evidence by the prosecution has been completed and this would be an inadmissible extension of the material for one side and a limitation for the other.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider what you say. The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken).

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal does not in any way accept Dr. Pelckmann's submission that it is inconvenient or unfair to the defence that documents should be put in at this stage. It considers that in all the circumstances of the case and having regard to the late stage at which the trial has arrived, and having regard to the nature of the document which is offered in evidence by the prosecution, the Tribunal ought not to admit the document now.



Q. Witness, with what division of the Waffen SS did you serve during the course of the war?

A. For two years I led the Second Division and later -

Q. Just one moment. What was it called? What was its name?

A. The division later was called "Das Reich." Formerly it had the name "VD-Division" and from 1942 to 1944, it was the Second SS Panzer Corps.

From 1944 I was in the Army again.

Q. I do not want to leave the "Das Reich" Division for a moment. During what period were you serving with the "Das Reich" Division?

A. I did not understand exactly.

Q. In what periods were you serving with the "Das Reich" Division? From what date?

A. Beginning with its setting up in 1939 until I was wounded a second time in October, 1941.

Q. You did not return to serve with that division at all?

A. I no longer served with that division because I was then Commanding General and Supreme Commander of an army.

Q. So that the "Das Reich" Division was the only division you served with in the field as a Divisional Commander, was it?

A. No, there were others there after me who commanded.

Q. But the "Das Reich" was the only division which you commanded personally during the course of the war?

A. During the time when I was Divisional Commander I was the only commander of this division.

Q. Did you command any other Waffen SS Division apart from "Das Reich"?

A. There were two and later three divisions which belonged to my Panzer Corps.

Q. What were those divisions?

A. There was the First Division, the "Leibstandarte," the Second Division, "Das Reich," and the Third, the "Totenkopf Division." Later, in 1944, the 9th and 10th Divisions belonged to it.

Q. What were the names of these divisions?

A. The names were "Hogenstaufen" and "Goetz von Berlichingen"; I beg your pardon, "Frundsberg."

Q. During what period was the Leibstandarte Division under your command?

A. The "Leibstandarte" was under my command from the beginning of 1943 about the end of January, until the beginning of August.

Q. From January, 1943, to August, 1943?

A. Yes.

[Page 319]

Q. You were in command of that division when it was fighting near Kharkov, you were in command of the corps, rather, in which the Leibstandarte Division was, when it was fighting near Kharkov in the spring of 1943, were you not?

A. The division was under my command during the fighting around Kharkov.

Q. Have you any knowledge of the fact that Staroverevka, the town, was burned by the Second Regiment of the Leibstandarte Division?

A. No, I know nothing of that.

Q. And that that regiment also burned down Stanitschnoje?

A. No, that I do not know.

Q. And that it burned down Jefremovka, murdering the civilian population, in the spring of 1943, near Kharkov?

A. I do not know that and I cannot believe it either, because the fighting at that time did not allow for any tasks other than military ones.

Q. Fighting did not give your troops time to burn down villages as they went through - are you saying that? That was one of the outstanding characteristics of your form of warfare on the Eastern Front, was it not?

A. No, I deny that. The conception of "scorched earth" was not created by us. If villages went up in flames during the fighting, that is often unavoidable. I do not believe that the villages were set on fire intentionally because it was in the interest of the operations we were carrying out that these villages be retaken.

Q. It was because of incidents like those burnings that Himmler was telling the officers of your three SS divisions of the terrible reputation they had created, was it not? Those were typical instances of your form of warfare on the Eastern Front, were they not?

A. No, Heinrich Himmler did not say anything about that in that speech. He mentioned the terror, which I personally rejected.

Q. The "Das Reich" Division, when was that under your command?

A. The "Das Reich" Division was under my command at the same time, from the end of January, 1943, until August of the same year.

Q. Did you command it subsequently at all, as Corps Commander or Army Commander?

A. Only afterwards when I was commanding an army did the division come under my command again, in Normandy.

Q. Did you receive any reports of the numerous murders and burnings of villages that the "Das Reich" Division was responsible for in France in the month of June, 1944?

A. I know, from the Indictment, the accusation that in Southern France, during the campaign against the de Gaulle Army, there was fighting during which villages had been set on fire. At that time the division was not yet under my command. I was still in the East. I only learned of these events here during my captivity.

Q. I am referring not to villages burned during action but villages burned as punitive measures by units of your Waffen SS divisions. Did you never hear reports of these incidents?

A. I have heard of only this one case in Southern France here in the Indictment.

Q. In June, 1944, for instance, the Panzer Grenadier Regiment 3 burned the village of St-Germain-de-Belair. You know nothing of that?

A. No, at the moment I do not.

Q. And Oradour-sur-Glane? It was the "Das Reich" Division that was responsible for that atrocity, was it not, when 793 men, women and children were deliberately murdered? You never heard of the atrocities of Oradour-sur-Glane performed by the "Das Reich" Division when it was a component part of your corps?

A. That name and the accusation came to my knowledge here, during my captivity, from the Indictment. Before that I had no knowledge of it. It apparently

[Page 320]

concerns an individual. company belonging to that division, which was put into action through local orders of the Field Kommandantur.

Q. Was not the Panzer Grenadier Regiment under your command?

A. No, at that time it was not yet under my command because I only returned to France from the East at the end of June.

Q. That was characteristic use of the units of Waffen SS for these terror purposes then, was it not - the very point I have been putting to you for many minutes through this cross- examination?

A. I have repeatedly stated that it was not a characteristic of this division.

Q. The Death's Head Division, when did you command that?

A. The Death's Head Division too came under my command at the same time, from the end of January, 1943, until August, 1943.

Q. Did you know that the 1st Regiment, the 7th Company of a detachment , belonging to the Totenkopf Division, had in Warsaw murdered about 45,000 Jewish men, women and children. Did you not hear of that?

A. In what year was that supposed to have happened?

Q. In the year 1943, when you were commanding the corps to which this division belonged, the Totenkopf Division, with the great tradition of murders in concentration camps?

A. The division, as such, came under my command not during the fighting f at Warsaw but at Kharkov. That is apparently again a confusion of the men and the guard units of the concentration camps.

Q. Did you know that the 1st Regiment of the 7th Company of the Totenkopf Division had shot forty Russian prisoners of war near Kharkov in August, 1943, for instance?

A. No, in August, 1943, the Totenkopf Division was no longer near Kharkov. It was further south at the Mius river.

MR. ELWYN JONES: Would that be a convenient time to adjourn? I have only a few more questions to put to this witness.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)




Q. Witness, did you know that the Prinz Eugen Division had been responsible for the massacre at Lidice in June, 1942?

A. I did not understand the name of the place.

Q. It is a very famous place, Lidice, L-i-d-i-c-e.

A. No, I left the division in the year 1941 and had nothing to do with it after that time. I heard nothing about this.

Q. Did you hear the name today for the first time?

A. Yes, I rather think so.

Q. Oh, the whole world knows of the massacre of Lidice. Are you saying seriously to the Court you never heard of it? You have admitted that the Prinz Eugen Division was an SS division, have you not?

A. Yes.

Q. I want you to look at Document D-944, Exhibit GB 566, because you have said that units of the Waffen SS did not set fire to villages or commit atrocities against the inhabitants. This is a statement from the Yugoslav Commission for Ascertaining War Crimes taken from a member of the SS, Holtzer Leander; , and he declares:

"In August, 1943, the 23rd Company set fire to a village on the railway line Jablabnica-Prozor by order of the battalion commander, Obersturmbannfuehrer Wagner, under the command of the company commander,

[Page 321]

Untersturmbannfuehrer Schuh. The inhabitants of the village were shot in the meantime.

"In August, 1943, on the orders of the same persons, the 23rd Company set fire to a village on the railway line Niksic-Avtovac; and the inhabitants of the village were shot. The order for the shooting came from Jablabnica and the villages were burnt down in the early morning. The shootings in Pancevo were carried out by the police agent Gross, former master-dyer, Brunn from the SS Division "Prinz Eugen" from Pancevo, a former master-miller. He received a reward of 20,000 Dinars for the hangings at the cemetery."

Did you know members of the Waffen SS were from time to time employed for hanging prisoners?

A. It is strange that this company was called the 23rd. We had no numbering of this sort. Furthermore, I cannot tell you anything about it since I never commanded this division. The "Prinz Eugen" Division included many "Volksdeutsche" from the Balkans, German nationals resident in the Balkans; and the senior commander, Fritsch, also was a "Volksdeutscher." I believe that the war in the Balkans bore, on both sides, a different aspect from that found elsewhere.

Q. Now, finally, I want to deal with the unity of the SS organization. I suggest to you that the Waffen SS, the Allgemeine SS, the SD, and the police branches of the SS formed one great unit of the Nazi State. Do you agree with that?

A. No. I stated again and again that this apparent unity did not exist; that we had no connection with the general SS nor with the SD but were independent under the command of the Army. Occasionally small units of the Waffen SS were assigned to tasks in the rear areas where they were subordinate to the Higher SS and Police Leader. And that seems also to have applied in Warsaw, where the rear formations of the cavalry brigade

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