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 Hundred-First Day: Monday, 12th August, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[Page 79]


Q. Please, witness, look at Section 3 of the decree, point C. I shall read it into the record: "For this task the ruthless conscription of the civilian population, uninfluenced by any false softness, the speedy commencement of work and the establishment of construction battalions, including female construction battalions, must be enforced." Do you consider this method of utilising the civilian population, including the female population, as a method necessitated by military considerations?

A. As I see it there, I do not doubt at all that it was necessary from a military standpoint. Whether or not it was correct from a human point of view is another, question. But I must point out that the use of the civilian population, including the women, was something we learned from the Soviet Union, which did just that to a large extent, otherwise the creation of Russian anti-tank ditches many kilometres long would not have been possible in a few days.


Witness, is it your contention that it is in accordance with the laws of war to turn the females of a country into a construction battalion for the purposes of your army?

A. I am not absolutely certain at the moment whether that is in accordance with the laws of war of 1939. That in this war International Law was exceeded in many cases is an ascertained fact. That the use of labour, also of female labour, is one of the rights of an occupying power, is, I should think, true.


You have just stated that the Red Army widely used the civilian population for constructing anti-tank ditches, etc. I want to explain that to you. That was really so, because the whole Soviet people, including the Soviet women of course, participated in all possible actions against the Fascist invaders; but give me an illustration, just one illustration, of the Red Army utilising German women for purposes of this kind.

A. I cannot give you an instance in this war.

[Page 80]

Q. Because there were none, but this decree of Hitler talks of utilising Soviet women for erecting defence constructions for German forces. That is what I am speaking about. Now we will go to another question. Did you know that in May, 1944, a special conference of generals of the German Army was held in Sonthofen on the subject of National Socialist education of the Army units?

A. In May, 1944, I was no longer in service, and therefore I did not hear anything about this conference.

Q. You never heard anything about the conference?

A. I did not hear anything about that conference, no.

Q. I should like to mention one fact in connection with that conference. You will probably know that at that conference the defendant Keitel, among others, stated as follows: "Officers who express any doubt about victory or who criticise the Fuehrer I shall have shot."

THE PRESIDENT: The witness says he knows nothing about it. Is this a new document you have got or not? Is it some new document?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: No. We do have a document on which I think it is necessary to ask the witness some questions, but we are not submitting this document immediately, because we have only just received it and it has not yet been translated. It is an affidavit of Lt.-General Vincent Muller of the German Army, in which he mentions Keitel's remark. If the Tribunal considers it necessary, this document will be put in at the end of this afternoon's session, or at the latest tomorrow morning.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, all I mean is this: If you are not putting in the document and the witness says he was not at the conference and never heard of the conference, I do not think you can put to him what was stated at the conference in order to get that in evidence.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: I understand, Mr. President. In that case I will ask another question.


Q. Witness, are you aware that the command of the German Navy suggested the invasion of Norway in October, 1939? Were you aware of that?

A. No. I knew nothing about that. I heard of the entire Norwegian affair only when it had become an accomplished fact. I learned the details only from the Indictment, before that I did not hear a word about it.

Q. What do you know about the plan for an operation under the code name "Jolka"?

A. I did not understand the code name.

Q. Under the code name "Jolka" - that means "Christmas Tree" in English or "Tannenbaum" in German.

A. "Tannenbaum?" No, it does not mean anything to me, I do not know.

Q. I shall point out to you a few details relating to the plan. In the middle of July, 1940, after the armistice with France, the Chief of the German General Staff, General Halder, visited von Leeb's headquarters in Dijon. General Halder told von Leeb to prepare a plan for the occupation of Switzerland, taking into consideration the fact that the Swiss would resist. This plan was worked out under the code name "Christmas Tree" and submitted to the OKH for action. Do you know anything about it?

A. No, I was Commanding General at the time, and in the summer I went to the Channel coast. I heard nothing about this plan.

Q. You frequently emphasized here in your answers that the war against the Soviet Union was a "special war," and that you, as other German generals, acted only as soldiers, and that the so-called "ideological" war was conducted by Hitler and his colleagues. Did I understand that correctly?

A. Yes.

[Page 81]

Q. My American colleague reminded you yesterday about your own decree in which you were speaking about the annihilation of the Soviet political system and other basic enterprises in the occupied territories. You also stated you were aware of the decree of Field-Marshal Reichenau about the conduct of the troops required in the East. Was such a decree, in your opinion, prompted by a military sense of duty, or by other considerations?

A. No, it was certainly issued only out of a military sense of duty. In connection with this, I should like to add that these ideas were appearing in every newspaper and were, of course, promoted by higher authorities. They certainly did not originate with us. We, together with our soldiers, conducted the war in a military manner.

Q. Do you not think that such decrees can only be explained by the fact that their authors, were not generals brought up in the military tradition, but in the Hitlerite tradition.

A. I did not quite understand that. May I ask you to explain the meaning of the question again.

Q. I will repeat it. Do you not think that such decrees, political decrees really - I mean the order issued by Reichenau - do you not think that such decrees can only be explained by the fact that their authors were not generals brought up in the military tradition, but generals brought up in the Hitlerite tradition?

A. I can only speak for myself, for my own order. That I, personally, was nothing more than a soldier, to that I think every one of my subordinates and my superiors can testify. I was not a political general, nor was I, shall we say, a National Socialist general in the sense in which you mean it. This order was a consequence of the growing danger of the partisans, and the necessity to make it clear to our soldiers that they could not afford to be so careless, and that they must be aware that the fight on both sides was an ideological fight. The order itself falls into two entirely different parts. Part one, which deals with the necessity of safeguarding the rear against attack, etc., and with the alertness of the soldiers, contains some ideas about the meaning of this struggle. When the order speaks of the extermination of a system, then it means the political system, and not human beings; it means exactly what is today meant when the other side speaks of the extermination of National Socialism. The second part I would say contains my own ideas, it states what has to be done positively, and it also states quite clearly that the soldiers must avoid all arbitrary action, and that any violation of the honour of the soldier will be punished. I believe that this order is evidence of the fact that I conducted the fight as a soldier, and not as a politician.

Q. What you were during the war, your own decree shows best, and the Tribunal will be able to judge it.

My last question. Did you know what measures the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht initiated for the purpose of conducting biological warfare?

A. Biological warfare? I do not know at the moment what you mean by the expression "biological warfare." Would you explain that, please?

Q. The use of various types of dangerous bacteria in warfare. That is what I mean by "biological warfare."

A. No. I knew nothing about it. I have never heard of a bacteriological war or of poison warfare.

Q. You will now be shown several details of this plan for biological warfare, and you may then be able to recall it. I am submitting to the Tribunal Document USSR 510, which consists of the affidavit of the former Major-General of the Medical Corps of the German Army, Professor of the Military Medical Academy in Berlin, Walter Schreiber. I am reading it into the record.

"In connection with the trial of the major war criminals in Nuremberg, I, as Professor of Hygiene and Bacteriology of the Military Medical Academy in Berlin and former Major-General of the Medical Corps of the German Army, consider it my duty to our people, who have undergone such severe

[Page 82]

trials, and to the whole world, to disclose one more page of Germany's preparation for war which has not been touched upon in Nuremberg. Apart from the former political and military leadership of Germany a large part of the guilt is born by the German scientists and particularly by German doctors. Had that type of weapon which was being prepared been used, it would have meant putting to a shameful and evil use the great discoveries of Robert Koch, whose native country was Germany and who was a great teacher - "
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, counsel for the defence, would like to say something.

DR. LATERNSER: I should like to raise an objection. By looking through the document, I discovered that the author of this affidavit is raising particularly grave accusations. I do not know against whom these accusations are directed, but I should like to ask that the author of this document appear as a witness, so that I may cross-examine him.

THE PRESIDENT: Where is he?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: I can answer that. The former General Walter Schreiber is now in the Soviet Union as a prisoner of war. If the Tribunal thinks it necessary to have Walter Schreiber testify here as a witness, the prosecution will not object,

DR. LATERNSER: I think that if he is making such a serious allegation he should appear here in person.

THE PRESIDENT: General Alexandrov, could you inform the Tribunal how long it would take to get this witness Schreiber brought here for the purpose of cross-examination?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: We shall take all steps to get the witness here in the shortest possible time, but I cannot guarantee or state a number of days, since the distance is rather great. I would like the Tribunal to take this into consideration. However, regardless of whether the witness is going to be brought here or not, I request the permission of the Tribunal to have this document presented in the cross- examination.

DR. LATERNSER: May I be allowed to reply to that?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, you can make your objections if you wish to do so now and then the Tribunal will consider the matter when they adjourn. We do not propose to allow the document to be presented now at the moment. We will consider the matter when we adjourn.

DR. LATERNSER: I request that the Tribunal decide that the document must not be read until Walter Schreiber can appear here as a witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Your application is that the document should not be admitted unless the witness is brought here for further examination?

DR. LATERNSER: I should like to go even farther, Mr. President, and apply that the document should not be admitted at all, since the witness is now going to be produced by the prosecution, and can then state these facts under oath.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Mr. President, may I oppose the application of the defence. It seems to me that the affidavit of Walter Schreiber could and should be read during the cross-examination of this witness, regardless of whether Walter Schreiber will or will not appear here as a witness. A photostat of his affidavit is before the Tribunal, it is certified by the Extraordinary State Commission, which is the Plenipotentiary of the Soviet Government. Therefore regardless of what the Tribunal may decide about calling Walter Schreiber as a witness, I insist that the document which I put in as USSR 510 be accepted by the Tribunal and that I be given an opportunity of reading it into the record during the present cross-examination.

[Page 83]

THE PRESIDENT: No, General Alexandrov, the Tribunal has said that they will not admit the document at this stage. We propose to adjourn at 11.30 and will then consider the application. I observe that the affidavit was made in April, 1946, and there was plenty of time to bring the witness here.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: The question of bringing the witness here has never had to be considered up to now. If the Tribunal commands me not to use the document, I shall not be able to ask the witness the questions which arise out of the affidavit of Walter Schreiber. Moreover, I shall thereby be prevented from putting questions on Walter Schreiber's affidavit at another stage of this trial.

THE PRESIDENT: General Alexandrov, you will be able to ask him the question after the Tribunal has decided upon the admissibility of the document, that is to say, if it is decided as to its admissibility, can you not ask him then? But he has already said he knows nothing of biological warfare.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: He does not know what is in the affidavit of Dr. Schreiber. I have no further questions at the moment, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Is there any further cross-examination?



Q. Field-Marshal, you were questioned about the order, or alleged order, of the Quartermaster-General Wagner, which prohibited the feeding of prisoners of war from supplies of the armed forces. I would like to ask you, do you know that Colonel-General Halder, during a visit to the front on the occasion of a conference at Orscha, actually ordered that the food supplies to the troops should be cut so that prisoners of war could be better fed?

A. This is not known to me, because it did not take place in my area. I do know that in the winter of 1941-42 I had to reduce the rations in the Crimea since the supplies from home did not arrive in sufficient quantity on account of the shortage of railroad transportation, and also since we could not completely strip the country of all food reserves to feed the population and the prisoners. As far as I can recollect, we reduced the meat ration at that time, and I know that I expressly prohibited that the one cow, which would have remained the farmer's own property even under the Soviet Government, should be taken away from him, even though the Army needed the meat. I also remember that when the food situation became critical at times during that winter, we sent flour down to the south coast, although hundreds, in fact thousands of horses belonging to our army on the south coast perished, at that time, because on account of the shortage of transport space we could not bring down hay and straw for them.

Q. The order USSR 155 was submitted to you. Who signed that order?

A. I do not know which one you mean, USSR -

Q. I mean Document 115.

A. I do not have the number.

THE PRESIDENT: We can see for ourselves by whom it is signed.


Q. I merely want to know by whom it is signed.

A. Oh, yes, I see, it is signed by Adolf Hitler.

Q. Yes, that is the order. You were questioned with regard to number 2-d. It says there that "the land should be made useless and uninhabitable." Do you know, Field-Marshal, if that was actually carried out?

A. I cannot give information about the district of Kuban, because I was not there, and it did not belong to my area.

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