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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
9th August to 21st August 1946

One Hundred and Ninety-Ninth Day: Friday, 9th August, 1946
(Part 5 of 11)

[Page 18]

DR. PELCKMANN: May I put a formal question with regard to the proceedings? The witness is still in the courtroom. Are these documents to be submitted to him?

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has some questions to put to the witness.

DR. PELCKMANN: If these documents are not put to the witness, then I should like to object to their being used, for the reason given before, that the submission of evidence by the prosecution is closed.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has already ruled that new documents may be put in in this way.

DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the OKW): Mr. President, may I be permitted to put one question to this witness to clarify a name which he used?

Witness, you mentioned the Institute of Scientific Research for Military Purposes. Is that the complete name of the institute? Will you give the complete name?

[Page 19]

THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat your answer?

THE WITNESS: Institute of Scientific Research of Military Purposes of the Waffen SS and Police.

DR. LATERNSER: Thank you.



Q. Witness, you said that the Luftwaffe contacted Himmler for getting inmates from the concentration camps. Who in the Luftwaffe made that contact?

[Wolfram Sievers] A. I did not say that the Luftwaffe attacked concentration camps on Himmler's orders.

Q. Wait, witness, wait, listen to the question. I did not suggest that you said that. I said that you said that someone in the Luftwaffe had made a contact with Himmler in order to get inmates from the concentration camps. Did you say that?

A. No, I did not say that either. But Dr. Grawitz, the Reich Medical Officer of the SS, informed me that the Luftwaffe - I do not know which department of it - had applied for the sea-water experiments to be carried out and had asked that detainees be made available for that purpose.

Q. You mentioned the name of General Milch in your testimony. What connection, if any, did General Milch have with any of these experiments?

A. Only with the high altitude and the sub-cooling experiments which were started in 1941 and carried out by medical officers of the Luftwaffe, that is, by Professor Holzloehner, by Captain of the Medical Corps Dr. Rascher, by Captain of the Medical Corps Dr. Zinke, and by a third gentleman of the Aeronautical Research Institute at Adlershof, whose name I have forgotten -

Q. And what connection did General Milch have with these experiments? Did he make the arrangements for them?

A. No, as far as I know, the technical arrangements were made by the Medical Inspectorate of the Luftwaffe.

Q. What connection did General Milch have with this matter?

A. That is apparent from the exchange of letters between General Field-Marshal Milch and Obergruppenfuehrer Wolff which were shown to me here in previous interrogations.

Q. You, then, have no other knowledge about General Milch except from the correspondence that has been submitted.

A. No, I do not know more than that.

Q. In how many camps besides Dachau were there experimental stations or stations for biological research?

A. That I cannot say, because I only know of the experiments of Rascher and Hirt, of no others, that is, of such experiments being conducted in the sphere of the Reich Medical Officer SS. Of these nothing could be learned, because they, too -

Q. You do not know?

A. No.

Q. One last question. You said that after Dr. Rascher's arrest there were no more illegal experiments that were connected with the Institute. Do you know of any others that were not connected with the Institute?

A. That is connected with the previous question. One did hear, for instance, of the work of Professor Schilling; but I never became acquainted with it in detail.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

LT.-COMMANDER HARRIS: May it please the Tribunal, during the examination of the witness, Dr. -

[Page 20]

THE PRESIDENT: You are not wanting me to keep the witness, are you?

LT.-COMMANDER HARRIS: No, Sir. During the examination of the witness, Dr. Best, the Tribunal kindly agreed to permit the prosecution to introduce another document, which at that time was not available, and with the permission of the Tribunal I should now like to offer it. The document is 4051- PS and becomes Exhibit USA 924. This document has been shown to the witness Best in the presence of the counsel for the Gestapo, Dr. Merkel, and the witness Best has identified it. The document shows not only that the witness Best had knowledge of the programme of counter-terror carried on in Denmark, but that he, himself, decreed acts of counter- terrorism to be committed, and that on one occasion he ordered the execution of a student.

During the examination of Dr. Best, the Tribunal will recall a series of documents, Exhibits USA 911 to 915 inclusive, which were offered to show that the Gestapo murdered a French general. At that time we had only the photostatic copies of these documents, and I told the Tribunal that we would try to obtain the originals. We now have the originals in our possession, and they are being substituted for the photostatic copies.

I also asked the witness Best at that time if he knew that at about the time that this alleged murder was supposed to have taken place, a French general, General Mesny, was killed, and he said he did not know that. The French prosecution has given us the documentary proof that General Mesny was killed at that time under circumstances which prove conclusively that this murder was accomplished in conformity with the plans which have heretofore been shown and to that end I now offer as document next in order 4069- PS, which becomes Exhibit USA 925. This document is certified by the Delegation of the Ministry of Justice of France.

I would ask the Tribunal to turn to Page 2, which is a letter from the International Red Cross Committee, Geneva, dated 5th April, 1945, to Madame Mesny. I wish to emphasize the fact that this document is dated long before the present time and was written at a time when the other documents which the Tribunal has the benefit of were, of course, entirely unknown.

This letter states that Monsieur Denzler, Attache at the Swiss Legation in Berlin, had furnished certain information concerning General Mesny, and I should just like respectfully to invite your attention to the second paragraph of his report, where he states that the Generals Flavigny, de Boisse, and Buisson had been transferred from Oflag IVB in Koenigstein to Oflag IVC in Colditz. The paragraph runs as follows: "The Generals Mesny and Vauthier have also left Koenigstein in a private car for Colditz. According to a communication from Commandant Prawill, General Mesny was shot near Dresden while trying to escape." That was the report which the International Red Cross sent to Madame Mesny.

But I particularly desire to invite the attention of the Tribunal to the second document, which is dated 29th April, 1945, and which was written by Generate; Buisson to the Minister of War concerning the case of General Mesny. General Buisson states in this letter as follows:

"On 18th January, 1945 - " and parenthetically I refresh the recollection of the Tribunal that the last document which we offered was dated 12th January, 1945 showing that at that time all plans for this murder had been completed. To continue with the document - "the following six officers, all generals, from the camp of Koenigstein, Oflag IVB, were picked out and told to leave the camp on 19th January in the morning, for an unknown destination. First car, Generals Daine and de Boisse."
Now, parenthetically again, if the Tribunal will recall, General de Boisse was the general whom it was first intended to murder, as shown by the document, and if you remember it was decided that General de Boisse would not be killed

[Page 21]

because his name had been discussed too often over the telephone, and therefore another general was to be substituted for him. So you see General de Boisse was in the first car.
"Second car, Generals Flavigny and Buisson. Third car, Generals Mesny and Vauthier. On 19th January, if the first car left at the appointed time, the other two did not, as both their order of departure and the times were changed. Second car, 7 a.m., General Mesny alone, for, according to information given to General Buisson through the German interpreter Rosenberg, an order had arrived from the German High Command during the night, cancelling General Vauthier's departure. Third car, Generals Flavigny and Buisson. The orders for the journey were draconian, destination unknown; it was strictly forbidden to make any stop on the way; the door handles were taken off the cars; there was a German officer in each car with an automatic pistol on his knees and his finger on the trigger.

Upon our arrival in Colditz, the reprisal camp, towards noon on 19th January, we noticed the absence of General Mesny, who had not arrived; we thought he had been sent to another camp, although his luggage was in the truck with that of the four other generals. On 20th January, in the morning, Commandant Prawitt, head of Oflag IVC, came into the rooms of the French generals and made the following announcement: 'I inform you officially that General Mesny was shot yesterday in Dresden while trying to escape. He was buried in Dresden with military honours by a detachment of the Wehrmacht.' "

And then, if it please the Tribunal, General Buisson goes on with this comment, and it should be remembered that when he wrote this letter he, of course, had no knowledge of the plot as we know it today. He said, "Two facts remain obscure in the sombre tragedy: (1) The transport of General Mesny alone, the choice of General Vauthier; then the cancelling of the order seemed very suspicious to us, given the attitude of the General, who was a volunteer for work in Germany, and whose transfer to a reprisal camp seemed inexplicable. (2) General Mesny, whose eldest son is in a camp for political deportees in Germany, said to me several times during the course of our conversations, 'If up to 1944 I always tried to prepare my escape, I gave up trying altogether afterwards, even if I had every chance of succeeding. First of all, the end of the war is only a question of weeks; moreover, and especially, I should be much too afraid that my flight would cost my eldest son his life.' An hour before his departure from Koenigstein, on 19th January, General Mesny repeated those words to me again."

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I wonder if your Lordship will allow me to mention a point before Dr. Laternser commences. My Lord, as a result of the general evidence given before the Commission and the announcement that a number of summarising affidavits will be tendered by certain organizations, the prosecution have secured eleven affidavits of general scope made by State Ministers, local counsellors and officials, and a publisher of a newspaper, dealing with the same matter as the summarised affidavits which the defence are about to submit. They could, of course, be put in cross-examination to the witnesses for the SA who would be called, but I suggest for the consideration of the Tribunal that at this stage of the trial it would probably, be more convenient if they were simply offered after the counsel for the organization have dealt with their documents.

If that course commended itself to the Tribunal I should give German copies to the counsel for the defence at once so that they have an opportunity of considering them Otherwise, of course, I should reserve them to be put in cross- examination and preserve the element of surprise.

[Page 22]

My Lord, I am in the hands of the Tribunal, but it seemed to me that that was the more convenient course than occupying more time in cross-examination at this stage when so many facts are known.

DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the OKW): Mr. President, I did not understand the translation of Sir David's suggestion; may I have it repeated so that possibly the defence counsel can explain their views in regard to it?

THE PRESIDENT: Will you put it again?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I have eleven affidavits which were taken from various gentlemen, including ex-State Ministers of the Social Democratic Party and other non-Nazi parties, local officials, and one publisher of a newspaper. They are designed to deal generally with the matters which have been given before the Commission and which are going to be dealt with, as I understand, in the summarised affidavits, the affidavits summarising the large quantity of affidavits.

I suggested for the consideration of the Tribunal that, instead of taking up time in putting the contents of these affidavits to the witnesses for the SA, witness Juttner and others who would probably deal with most of the points, I should offer them after the defence counsel have offered their documents, and in order that the defence counsel should not be prejudiced in any way, I suggest that, if that course were adopted, I should give them copies of these affidavits in German at once so that they would have an opportunity of seeing the contents.

The object is to keep the documents together and also, I hope, to save time at this stage of the trial in cross- examination.

I hope, my Lord, that is clear.

THE PRESIDENT: That seems to the Tribunal to be a convenient course and to give the German defence counsel a longer period in which to study the affidavits.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Then I will do so, my Lord.

THE PRESIDENT: Herr Dr. Laternser.

DR. LATERNSER: With the permission of the Tribunal, I shall call, as my first witness, Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch.

GENERAL TAYLOR: My Lord, might I make a brief observation before the witness comes in?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Marshal, keep the witness out for a moment.

GENERAL TAYLOR: My Lord, I wanted to make a very brief observation concerning the scope of the testimony of the witness von Brauchitsch.

The other two witnesses that Dr. Laternser is calling - Field-Marshals von Mannstein and Rundstedt - were called in the first instance by Dr. Laternser and have testified before the Commissioner on practically every question relating to the General Staff and High Command. That will appear from the summaries of their evidence which, I think, are in the hands of the Court.

The case of the witness von Brauchitsch is somewhat different. The witness von Brauchitsch signed two affidavits which the prosecution offered and which are in the record before the Tribunal as Exhibits USA 532 and 535. Those affidavits relate exclusively to the question of the composition and organization of the General Staff and High Command group.

Before the Commissioner, the witness von Brauchitsch, was cross-examined by Dr. Laternser only within the scope of those affidavits. No other matters were touched upon before the Commissioner. I now understand that Dr. Laternser proposes to examine the witness von Brauchitsch before the Tribunal on a great variety of, or on at least several matters other than those covered in the affidavits.

The prosecution merely wishes to point out that to the extent that the witness von Brauchitsch covers matters other than those in the affidavits, he becomes

[Page 23]

a witness for the defence and the prosecution may possibly, though not necessarily, have to cross-examine him on those distinct matters.

We also wish to respectfully suggest that, unless the witness von Brauchitsch is going to talk about matters other than those that Mannstein and Rundstedt have covered at length, it would be entirely fair and expeditious to confine the testimony of von Brauchitsch to the matters of the affidavits, unless, as I say, it is proposed that von Brauchitsch discuss matters which Rundstedt and Mannstein are not going to cover.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, the Tribunal wishes you to go on and examine Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch. They hope that in so far as his evidence covers the same ground as the other two witnesses that you are proposing to call you will be as short as possible.

DR. LATERNSER: I now call Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch as my first witness.

WALTER VON BRAUCHITSCH took the stand and testified as follows:

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