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 9 of 11)

[Page 36]

THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution wish to cross-examine?



Q. Witness Brauchitsch, counsel for the General Staff has made reference to two - Can you hear me? Can the witness hear me?

A. Yes.

Q. Counsel for the General Staff has made reference to two affidavits which you signed. Did you have full opportunity to make changes in those affidavits before you signed them?

A. Yes.

Q. I will ask that a copy of the original of affidavit No. 2 be shown to you. Did you, in fact, make changes in the affidavits before you signed them?

A. I did not understand your question.

Q. Did you make changes in the affidavits before you signed them?

A. I made a few changes in them.

Q. Will you please look at the last sentence in the affidavit that I have just handed you? Is that sentence -

A. Which part do you mean?

Q. The very last sentence, Page 2. Is that last sentence entirely in your own handwriting?

A. Yes.

Q. And that last sentence, would you read it, please? Would you please read the last sentence in your own handwriting?

A. "In the hands of those departments shown in the chart was, in fact, the direction of the armed forces."

Q. Is that sentence, as you wrote it, correct?

A. Supplementary to what I said before, I had pointed out that the chart might lead to misunderstanding, whereupon I was told that that was already known. For that reason I connected the chart with the departments of the hierarchy.

Q. The chart is attached to the affidavit which you signed and the last sentence, as you have read it, says that, "in the hands of those departments shown in the chart was, in fact, the direction of the armed forces." There is no misunderstanding or qualification about that sentence, is there?

A. General, only as far as I have pointed it out that the individual sections of the staffs did not fit in as shown in the chart, but belonged directly to them and that in reality all the other sections of the working staffs belonged to them too.

GENERAL TELFORD TAYLOR: Your Honour, with respect to the question concerning the Eastern Front, I am bearing in mind that the witness von Mannstein, who is next to be called, was on the Eastern Front and remained there until 1944, while the witness von Brauchitsch retired in 1941. The prosecution prefers to reserve this question on those matters for the witness von Mannstein. With respect to the questions on aggressive warfare, those relate almost entirely to documents which have been before the Tribunal for a long time. The American prosecution sees nothing to be gained by putting those documents to this witness. It is entirely a matter of argument which will be made at a proper time. Accordingly, the American prosecution has no further questions to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Do the Chief Prosecutors wish to ask any questions?

[Page 37]


Q. Witness, you stated here today that the planning concerning the seizure of Czechoslovakia did not exist, and that in any case you were not informed about it. Did I understand you correctly?

A. Yes.

Q. And you were not aware of "Case Green"?

A. "Case Green" was known to me but it referred to something quite different. "Case Green" was prepared earlier, based on the assumption that a joint attack by France and Czechoslovakia was to take place against Germany. Thus the problems were treated before my time. I myself did not know the details of "Case Green."

Q. But "Case Green" dealt with the seizure of Czechoslovakia, is that right? I repeat the plan called "Case Green" was a plan for the seizure and attacking of Czechoslovakia, was it not?

A. As far as I know, "Case Green" was only connected with an attack without a declaration of war on the part of France and Czechoslovakia.

Q. In that case, I shall remind you of another document. I mean Hitler's decree of 30th May, 1938, the first copy of which was sent to you as Commander-in-Chief of the land forces. This directive was issued for the purpose of fulfilling "Case Green." I shall read into the record clause one of the second paragraph of the decree, which states:

"It is my firm decision that Czechoslovakia, in the near future, will have to be conquered thoroughly by means of a decisive military operation."
Did you have knowledge of that directive?

A. Yes, I know that directive.

Q. Thus there was really a plan for seizure and invading Czechoslovakia, is that not so?

A. I do not understand the meaning of that question.

Q. I am asking you, was there actually a plan for the seizure of Czechoslovakia, or not?

A. In May, 1938, Hitler told me about that idea of his for the first time. But you have to take into consideration in this connection that Hitler, as is generally known, always expressed himself in the strongest terms. It was extremely difficult for one to discern Hitler's actual will from his speeches.

Q. The next question is this. Tell me, witness, by what means did you learn about conversations between General Wagner and Heydrich, the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service? How did you know that talks c, ere taking place between those two men?

A. From a report received from General Wagner.

Q. Was General Wagner subordinate to your office?

A. He came under the Chief of the General Staff and as such he was subordinate to me.

Q. That means that the talks between General Wagner and Heydrich were taking place with your knowledge?

A. I do not understand.

Q. I repeat it, that means that the talks between General Wagner and Heydrich were taking place with your knowledge?

A. It was reported to me afterwards.

Q. And you assert that you did not know anything either about the tactical activity of the "action" groups of police, which were created as a result of these talks, or about the fact of their close co-operation with the armed forces.

A. I shall repeat my previous testimony. There was an order of the OKW to the effect that the Reichsfuehrer SS was to set up "operational" units and they were to prepare the necessary steps for the transfer of States to political States. Nothing more than that was ever known to me and the General did not make a

[Page 38]

report to me. No other reports of that kind ever reached me. Had I received such reports I would have taken steps against them just as in the case of Poland. I would not have connived at them in any way had I known of them.

Q. You were not even aware of the fact that these Einsatzkommandos worked in close contact with the Army Command. Did you know about that?

A. No, they did not work together with the Commands of the Wehrmacht or of the Army.

Q. I shall quote an extract from Document L-180, which is a report of the Einsatz group of the SD on 15th October, 1941. The report of this Einsatz group states.

"Einsatz group A, after preparing their vehicles for action; proceeded to their area of concentration, as ordered, on 23rd June, 1941, the second day of the campaign in the East. Army Group North consisting of the 16th and 18th Armies and Panzer Group 4 had left the day before.

Our task was hurriedly to establish personal contact with the commanders of the armies and with the commander of the army of the rear area. It must be stressed from the beginning that co-operation with the armed forces was generally good, in some cases, for instance, with Panzer Group 4 under General Hoeppner, it was very close, almost cordial."

And farther on:
"At the start of the Eastern campaign it became obvious with regard to the Security Police that its special work had to be done not only in the rear area of the armies as was provided for in the original agreements with the High Command of the Army, but also in the combat areas."
Q. Did you have knowledge about such a close contact between these Einsatz groups and the OKW?

A. No report reached me about it and consequently I knew nothing about it.

Q. You stated here that you had cancelled Hitler's decrees about the shooting of captured Soviet Commissars. Did I understand you right?

A. Yes.

Q. What was Hitler's reaction to your disregarding this decree?

A. He never said anything to me about it - I do not know, he never reacted.

Q. And you never notified Hitler that you were suspending his decree?

A. No.

Q. How did it happen that actually the decree was carried out, as a great many Soviet Commissars were annihilated by the German armed forces?

A. I am not in a position to answer that because I never received a report about it. I only received a report that the order had not been carried out.

Q. Now a last question. When counsel for the defence asked you your reasons for leaving the Army you stated that you retired because of differences of opinion about Hitler's policy and, because of these differences, you asked for and received the right to resign. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. That means that those generals of the German Army who did not agree with Hitler's policy and his form of government did have the right to resign and not to follow this policy. Is that correct?

A. Unfortunately, no. Hitler had explicitly decreed that no one was allowed to leave his command. One could not go even if one wanted to. In my case it suited him, because he needed a scapegoat for the failure of the Russian winter campaign. That was expressed later on in the propaganda spread in Germany, which blamed me for these matters.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: I have no further questions, Mr. President.

[Page 39]



Q. I have only a very few questions, which I wish to put following the cross-examination. In this Document L-180, which has just been quoted by the Russian Prosecutor, Generaloberst Hoeppner is mentioned. Did you know General Hoeppner well?

A. I have known him since 1914. He was my Chief of Staff in East Prussia and therefore I knew him extremely well.

Q. You surely knew his attitude then with regard to the use of violence, such as was displayed later on by the Einsatz forces?

A. General Hoeppner was a straightforward and honest soldier. He would refuse to do anything which would not be in keeping with his education and his training.

Q. Is General Hoeppner alive?

A. He became a victim of the events of 20th July.

Q. In other words, it was because of his action against such methods that he was sentenced to death. Is that right?

A. Yes, it is.

Q. Could you explain how it was possible that, according to the report, an almost cordial co-operation was said by the writer to have existed between the Einsatz group and General Hoeppner?

A. The only way I could explain what happened, as I said earlier in my testimony in regard to my negotiation with General Wagner and the leader of the SS department, Heydrich, is that there might have been co-operation at the actual fighting front. Conditions in the North were extraordinarily difficult. The tanks were in front, part of the Russians were behind them and behind them again the German divisions. There were the difficulties of bringing up reinforcements and supplies. I can well imagine that these groups may have assisted in securing communication lines. As already stated, I never received reports about that.

Q. Did you know General Wagner well?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. What was his attitude in regard to such methods of violence?

A. He committed suicide on 20th July, 1942. He was in any case against any measures which would have been a contradiction of rights, decency and humanity or any violation of the rules of the Hague and the Geneva Conventions.

Q. One would have expected that if he knew through a conference with Heydrich that mass executions were to be effected by these special Einsatz units, in view of his own attitude he would have made a report to you.

A. Yes, surely.

Q. Thank you, I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, you read the evidence of the witness Gisevius?


THE PRESIDENT: And are you telling the Tribunal that in so far as it refers to yourself it is entirely untrue?


THE PRESIDENT: Now I want to ask you another question. When the Commissar order was communicated to you, before the war upon the Soviet Union was made, what orders did you give?

THE WITNESS: I gave the order, which I mentioned earlier, to maintain discipline and see that correct treatment was to be accorded to the population by the German soldiers, and that all excesses were to be punished.

[Page 40]

THE PRESIDENT: That is to say that you did not give any order directly referring to the Commissar Order?

THE WITNESS: No, I could not rescind the order directly, but I did give an order which was unmistakable and which gave my views and convictions.

THE PRESIDENT: You gave your order in writing, did you?


THE PRESIDENT: And are you telling the Tribunal that you never knew during the rest of 1941 that the Commissar Order was being carried out?

THE WITNESS: Mr. President, I am not trying to tell stories. I am merely telling the truth when I say that I did not receive any reports on it and consequently cannot say anything about it. Wherever I made inquiries about it I only received the information that the order was not being carried out.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then you are saying that as far as you know it was not carried out until the time you retired?

THE WITNESS: Yes, and more I cannot say, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: I am only trying to find out what you do say. The witness can now retire.

THE WITNESS: Mr. President -

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, did you want to say anything more?

THE WITNESS: No, Mr. President.

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