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

Two Hundredth Day: Saturday, 10th August, 1946
(Part 6 of 6)

[GENERAL TELFORD TAYLOR continues his cross examination of Erich von Mannstein]

[Page 71]

Q. And just below there is a stamp of the 72nd Division, 27th November, 1941, Diary No. 1C, and at the left it appears to have been issued by Army High Command 1 t at Army Headquarters, 20th November, 1941. Secret. I quote:
"Since the 22nd June the German people have been engaged in a life-and-death struggle against the Bolshevist system.

This struggle is not being carried on against the Soviet armed forces alone in the established form laid down by European rules of warfare.

Behind the front, too, the fighting continues. Partisan snipers dressed as civilians attack single soldiers and small units, and try to disrupt our supplies by sabotage with mines and infernal machines. Bolshevists left behind keep the population, freed from Bolshevism, in a state of unrest by means of terror, and attempt thereby to sabotage the political and economic pacification of the country. Harvests and factories are destroyed and the city population in particular is thereby ruthlessly delivered to starvation.

Jewry constitutes the middleman between the enemy in the rear and the remainder of the Red armed forces which is still fighting and the Red leadership. More strongly than in Europe it holds all the key positions in the political leadership and administration, controls commerce and trade, and further forms the nucleus for all unrest and possible uprisings.

The Jewish-Bolshevist system must be exterminated once and for all. Never again must it encroach upon our European living-space.

[Page 72]

The German soldier has therefore not only the task of crushing the military potential of this system. He comes also as the bearer of a racial concept and as the avenger of all the cruelties which have been perpetrated on him and on the German people.

The fight behind the lines is not yet being taken seriously enough. Active co-operation of all soldiers must be demanded in the disarming of the population, the control and arrest of all roving soldiers and civilians and the removal of Bolshevist symbols.

Every instance of sabotage must be punished immediately with the severest measures, and all signs thereof must be reported.

The food situation at home makes it essential that the troops should as far as possible be fed off the land, and that furthermore the largest possible stocks should be placed at the disposal of the homeland. Particularly in enemy cities a large part of the population will have to go hungry. Nevertheless nothing which the homeland has sacrificed itself to contribute may, out of a misguided sense of humanity, be given to prisoners or to the population unless they are in the service of the German Wehrmacht.

The soldier must appreciate the necessity for the harsh punishment of Jewry, the spiritual bearer of the Bolshevist terror. This is also necessary in order to nip in the bud all uprisings, which are mostly attributable to Jews.

It is the task of leaders at all levels to keep constantly alive the meaning of the present struggle. Support for the Bolshevist fight behind the front by way of thoughtlessness must be prevented.

It is to be expected of the non-Bolshevist Ukrainians, Russians and Tartars that they will be converted to the New Order. The non-participation of numerous alleged anti- Soviet elements must give place to a definite decision in favour of active co-operation against Bolshevism. Where it does not exist it must be forced by suitable measures.

Voluntary -co-operation in the reconstruction of occupied territory is an absolute necessity for the achievement of our economic and political aims.

It has as its condition a just treatment of all non- Bolshevist sections of the population, some of whom have for years fought heroically against Bolshevism.

The ruling of this country demands from us results, strictness with ourselves and submergence of the individual. The bearing of every soldier is constantly under observation. It can make enemy propaganda ineffective or give it a springboard. If the soldier in the country takes from the peasant the last cow, the breeding sow, the last chicken or the seed, then no restoration of the economy can be achieved.

In all measures it is not the momentary success which is decisive. All measures must, therefore, be judged by their effectiveness over a period of time.

Respect for religious customs, particularly those of Mohammedan Tartars, must be demanded.

In pursuance of these concepts there are other measures besides to be carried out by the later administration. The enlightenment of the population by propaganda, encouragement of personal initiative, e.g., by prizes, extensive detailing of the population towards fighting the partisans and expansion of the local auxiliary police must be given more significance.

For the achievement of this object the following must be demanded:

Active co-operation of soldiers in the fight against the enemy in the rear.

No soldier to go about alone at night.

All motor vehicles to be equipped with adequate armament.

A self-assured but not overbearing attitude from all soldiers.

Restraint towards prisoners and the other sex.

No waste of food.

Severest action to be taken:

[Page 73]

Against despotism and self-seeking.

Against lawlessness and lack of discipline.

Against every transgression of the honour of a soldier."

And it appears that it is to be distributed right down to the regiments and independent battalions.

Q. Did you not issue that order as a result of the suggestion which came to you with the Reichenau order? The resemblance between the two is, to say the least, striking and the date is about the same.

A. I must say that this order escapes my memory entirely. According to the signature and particularly what is contained in the last part, I must assume that the order is genuine and was issued by me. Whether it was given on the strength of the Reichenau order or not I cannot possibly tell you now. But I do want to point out to you that if it says here that the system must be exterminated, then that is extermination of the Bolshevik system but not the extermination of human beings.

I must further point out to you that nowhere is there mention of collaboration with the SD, a collaboration which, because of the lack of knowledge we had of the doings of the SD, was out of the question in this area. I must point out to you the demands which I made of my soldiers - namely, that they must not take the last cow away from the farmers, that they must respect religious customs, that they must respect the other sex and that, on the other hand, they naturally must not be careless of the danger of partisans, as unfortunately the German soldier always was. I point out to you that any wilfulness and any self-seeking is expressly prohibited, also any barbarism, any lack of discipline, and most of all any breach of the honour of a soldier.

Q. You were asked about the General Reichenau order before the Commissioner, were you not? You were asked, and I read on Page - I will have to find the page, your Honour. I have a typed copy here, your Honour, without the final page reference.

Were you questioned before the Commissioners as follows:

"You know the order of General Reichenau in which he stated that there should be no consideration shown to the civilian population? Did you see the order, and did it have any influence whatever on your attitude and that of your troops to the civilian population?"
And you answered:
"We were informed of this order upon the suggestion of the Fuehrer, but none of the other leaders were of the same opinion as Reichenau, and it was never carried out, especially in my area."
You had not forgotten the Reichenau order, had you?

A. I had quite forgotten the Reichenau order until, it appeared amongst the documents here and I have no recollection especially of his order of mine. After all, that is not surprising, because that is a number of years ago, and during these years I have signed hundreds, if not thousands, of orders, and I cannot possibly remember every detail.

Q. Did you sign a lot of orders like this one? Is that why you have such difficulty remembering it?

A. No, I certainly have not signed a lot of orders like this one, but I have signed a lot of other orders. Particularly, I had to write and read a large number of reports and if I forgot this order, a fact which I admit, it is not surprising. I only know that this order, at any rate, as opposed to the Reichenau order, very, strongly emphasises the demands which I made for decent behaviour on the part of my soldiers. That, after all, is the important point.

Q. You remember the Reichenau order, and you remember that it was suggested that you pass it down, and the only thing you have forgotten is that you did?

A. No, I said that I only remembered the Reichenau order when I came here, when it was shown to me among other documents, and when I was before

[Page 74]

the Commission, also that, try as I might, I did not recollect giving that order. If I had done so, I would most certainly have mentioned it, because the first part of the order is absolutely contrary to my conceptions.

Q. You think that you wrote the second part and not the first?

A. I did not write the order at all myself. Very probably the order was shown to me in draft and then I signed it. If the first part mentions the fight against the system and the extermination of the system as well as the fight against the Jews as the supporters of the Partisan movement, in the last analysis, it had its proper justification. But all that has nothing to do with the fact that Jews were to be exterminated. They were to be excluded, and the system was to be removed. That is the point that matters.

Q. I think you told the Tribunal a few minutes ago that you did not even know that Jews were likely to be opposed to the new administration. It looks as if you very definitely wrote that for the attention of your soldiers, does it not?

A. No, I did not know that, and this order that Jews were to be exterminated cannot possibly recall it to my memory, because it does not mention a word about the Jews being exterminated. It merely says that the system is to be exterminated.

Q. I call your attention to the paragraph: "The soldier must appreciate the necessity for harsh punishment of Jewry, the spiritual bearer of the Bolshevist terror. This is also necessary in order to nip in the bud all uprisings, which are mostly attributable to Jews."

Now, I ask you, witness, the Einsatzkommandos could not have liquidated Jews without the soldiers knowing something about it, could they? Is that true?

A. It was perfectly possible, because as Ohlendorf has described it the shootings of the Jews were camouflaged as "resettlement." The Jews were taken to desolate places and were shot and buried there, so that it is quite certain that the commanding authorities had no knowledge of that. Naturally, it is possible that some soldier or other, quite by accident, may have seen such an execution, and there is in fact evidence of it. I remember in the Russian Indictment the description by an engineer, who was present during such a shooting, I believe in the Ukraine in the vicinity of Schitomir or Rovno, and described it in most horrible terms.

One can only ask why that man did not report it to the command post. The answer is that the fear of the SS was such that this man, instead of reporting this dirty business, kept it to himself and now comes out with it. At that time - it was not in my zone, but somewhere else - had he gone to some high military command post and described these events, then I am convinced that the commander in question would have intervened, and then, of course, we would also have heard of it. But the fact is that we did not hear about it.

GENERAL TELFORD TAYLOR: One more question on this subject, your Honour.


Q. Witness, is it not true that this order is very carefully drawn so that the troops would understand and, shall we say, sympathise with what the Einsatzkommandos were doing in the way of mass extermination of Jews?

A. You mean my order?

Q. Yes.

A. No. There can be no question of my ever having urged my troops, even between the lines, to co-operate in such methods. How could I have concluded by stressing the soldier's honour?

GENERAL TELFORD TAYLOR: My Lord, the prosecution has no further questions of this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours, 12th August, 1946.)

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