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 and Seventh Day: Tuesday, 20th August, 1946
(Part 2 of 9)

[Page 278]


Q. Did you never receive from Hitler an order or some special authority to carry out preparations for bacteriological warfare?

[Herrmann Goering] A. I have never received authority or an order of the kind mentioned by General Schreiber of the Medical Service in his letter to the Soviet Government.

Q. Did you have knowledge of the fact that your medical officers were working on preparations of this sort?

A. No, and this letter does not say anything about medical officers, but merely that a Luftwaffe officer -

THE PRESIDENT: One minute. Will you just wait one minute? Go on, Dr. Stahmer. You will confine yourself to the matters with which you have dealt in your written application with reference to Dr. Schreiber.

Q. Did you have knowledge of the fact that the working association "Bacteriological Warfare" existed?

A. That a working association existed I did not know. What I did know, however, was that, as a matter of course, defensive measures against bacteriological warfare were discussed. It must not be forgotten that to a certain extent this type of warfare had already begun against us by the dropping of destructive potato beetles and so on. Measures were taken, on the one hand, to carry out preparations for a defence against such warfare; and then possibly - I do not know this, but it is quite possible - preparations may have been made to enable us to reply, should the enemy begin this bacteriological war.

Q. Do you know Professor Blommen?

A. No.

Q. Then you did not commission him to prepare such measures?

A. That is hardly possible.

DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Do the prosecution desire to ask any questions?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Defendant, I first want to know how much of the witness Sievers's letter you agree with or disagree with. Do you agree that the directions for carrying out the spotted fever experiments were in the hands of the director of the Hygienic Institute of the Reich University of Strassburg,

[Page 279]

Professor Dr. Haagen, major in the Medical Corps, and consulting hygienist to an air fleet? Is Sievers right in saying that?

A. I have no means of checking that; it is possible.

I see. Now, are you disputing that Dr. Haagen was - I quote - "commissioned with this task by the Reichsmarschall, the President of the Reich Research Council," or do you again say that you have no means of checking that?

A. I said quite clearly that I know nothing about it; and it is interesting that he also speaks of the Reichsmarschall and the President of the Reich Research Council, that is, the heading under which all the thousands of research commissions were ordered.

Q. To put it quite bluntly, your defence to this is the rubber-stamp defence that your signature on the orders was merely a rubber stamp for the equivalent signature as President of the Reich Research Council? Is that what you want the Tribunal to understand?

A. No, I am not saying that at all. If my signature was given, then it had its full value; but it was not given; as I said earlier, this was the heading, the letter-heading of the commissions, which was ordered. These commissions were signed by some subordinate department dealing with these matters. If I signed a letter, I alone assume the responsibility for it. It would be only too easy for the prosecution to put such a letter before me or to question Herr Haagen.

Q. Then you say that if instructions went out from the Reich Research Council you knew nothing about them? That is your answer as I understand it?

A. The details, of course, I did not know, because firstly, that was impossible if only from the point of view of time; my day, too, only had 24 hours.

Secondly, I emphasized that I was not an expert in any way, but that my task was to give general instructions to the men working in research, to centralise the research work. of every sphere, and to provide the very large funds required.

Q. But you see, defendant, the letter goes on to say: "In accordance with his instructions" - which were said to come from the Reichsmarschall, the President of the Research Council - "In accordance with his instructions, Dr. Haagen has to report about his work to the Chief of the Luftwaffe Medical Services."

A. That is possible; it is possible that he was given that order. However, he did not report to me, and the Chief of the Medical Inspectorate did not report to me either.

It is for that reason that my defence counsel applied to have the Chief of the Medical Inspectorate appear here as a witness in order to make this point abundantly clear.

Q. So that in both these capacities - in these two capacities - the Reich Research Council and the Medical Department of the Luftwaffe were both acting without your knowledge? In these experiments which were concerned with the condition of, among others, the service for which you were responsible, you say both these bodies were acting without your knowledge. That is what you say. Is that right; are you sure it is right?

A. That is absolutely right. A short explanation, in this connection ... Well, I am sorry, it is absolutely -

Q. Just a moment. I would like you to consider one or two points before you commit yourself too deeply to that.

Do you know that in May of 1942 Field-Marshal Milch was expressing your special thanks to the SS for their co- operation in the altitude experiments?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is Document 343-PS, and it is the letter that begins, "Dear Wolff." Wolff was one of Himmler's personal staff. If my recollection is correct, he was the liaison between Himmler and Hitler, certainly, at one time.

[Page 280]

Q. (continuing.) And your second man, defendant, Field- Marshal Milch; was expressing the special thanks from the Supreme Commander of the Air Corps to the SS for their extensive co-operation in the altitude experiments.

Are you saying that Field-Marshal Milch, when he wrote that - or when he signed it on behalf of your medical department - was merely expressing a chanson de malaise and was not conveying your thanks to Himmler?

A. Not only am I saying it but Milch himself testified to that quite clearly while he was on the witness stand; if you will read the record you will find that he expressly admitted that I had no knowledge of these details.

Apart from that I must mention that we employed a certain method of correspondence which is perhaps not quite fitting here, but it nevertheless existed. If a representative of a Ministry wrote a letter of thanks which was not of a personal nature he always had to express thanks on behalf of the chief, in the name of the chief, and I think that rule must exist everywhere.

Q. I just remind you; what the witness Milch said was that these letters were put in front of him by your medical department. These experiments mainly and greatly concerned the Luftwaffe. Are you saying that the thanks of the Luftwaffe and of the Supreme Commander, yourself, were given without any reference to you at all?

A. Field-Marshal Milch did not say that the letters were put before me, he said they were put before him.

Q. That is what I said; I said "before him." I did not suggest they were put before you at all.

A. It probably came through incorrectly. Then he goes on to say that he expressed his grateful thanks, because the Inspectorate had told him that it was no longer interested in the matter, since the high-altitude experiments had already been carried out voluntarily by our young medical officers, and he spoke about that at length.

Q. But, you know, it did not stop with your young medical officers. Your service provided the equipment for Dachau for these experiments.

A. The translation is not coming through.

Q. I will repeat that. It did not stop there. Your service wag providing the equipment for these experiments for Dachau.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, the reference to that is Exhibit GB 582, Document 2428-PS, which is an affidavit by the detainee Anton Pacholegg, who was at Dachau. He says that the Luftwaffe delivered, here at the concentration camp at Dachau, a cabinet constructed of wood and metal, measuring one metre square and two metres high, and so on. He describes the equipment.

Q. (continuing.) Are you saying that the supplying of equipment for these experiments at Dachau was done without any reference to you about these particular Air Force experiments?

A. In the first place, it was not the Air Force which was carrying out the experiments at Dachau, it was the medical officer of the Air Force Reserve, Dr. Rascher. Whether Dr. Rascher obtained the order to do so from the Medical Inspectorate, and, if so, in what form, I do not know.

Secondly, it was not wood or various parts which were sent there, but a so-called high-altitude chamber. That is the thing I mentioned before, which every airman had to enter to test the reaction of his body to altitude and pressure conditions. It was not difficult for Rascher, therefore, to go to the Inspectorate, to the Technical Inspectorate, and ask for such a chamber without giving exact details of the type of experiments for which he wanted to use it, and as to whether his experiments entailed any danger for the people subjected to them.

Thirdly, I should like to underline this again, the prosecution has repeatedly said, and only lately justice Jackson in his final speech emphasized especially,

[Page 281]

that I had had my fat fingers in every pie. I want to say that if I held as many offices as I am being accused of having held, then you will understand that I could not have concerned myself with every high-altitude chamber used for experiments.

Q. But did you not concern yourself with the experiments to test the flight clothing for the Luftwaffe when the concentration camp detainees were dressed in various types of flight suits with jackets? I mean, defendant, you have been a practical airman yourself, with a very gallant record of service in the air in the last war. What I am suggesting to you is that these matters were matters that were not only within your administrative interest in your position but they were within your personal interest as an ex-air officer. That is why I am suggesting to you that you would have, and did have, an interest in these experiments.

Reflecting again, are you sure that you do not remember about the experiments on these concentration camp detainees for testing air clothing?

A. Sir David, I am not only absolutely sure that I do not remember but I am absolutely sure that it was not so. I emphasize that I am not saying I do not remember; I am saying with absolute certainty that this was not so.

Secondly, you are quite right; naturally, I took the greatest interest in the welfare of my airmen, and also in their clothing. We airmen repeatedly discussed among ourselves what the best type of combination would be. Had I been told that heatable combinations would be used, then on the strength of my own experience I would have said that I did not want them, because at the end of the last war I myself once wore such a heatable suit with the result that I was badly burned.

Q. Well, now, take another experiment. It must have been the same in your Airforce as in ours, that one of the greatest difficulties, or one of the things that one wanted to deal with, was that of those who came down into the sea: that is, what could be done for them, and for what time they would survive

Do you say that you did not know about the cold test? According to this affidavit to which I have referred Dr. Rascher conducted this cold test - that was for the Luftwaffe also. That was to see the resistance of the human body to immersion in water. Do you say that you knew nothing about that experiment either?

A. I knew neither Dr. Rascher nor any of his experiments. The symptoms caused by cold, when people fell into the water, were known. Against freezing, there was an excellent powder, or some such stuff. Moreover, I knew that everything had been done to construct lifebelts in such a way that they would facilitate breathing in spite of the sea waves, and so on, and we also observed and studied the precautionary measures, the clothing and the rescuing methods of our opponents. I remember that I once held a pamphlet of that type in my hand, but that is all.

Apart from that, people have been falling into the water for years, and have always done the most suitable thing under the circumstances: they have moved about, they have taken alcohol, and so on, to get warm again.

Q. Well, now -

A. (interposing.) I beg your pardon, but there is one thing to which I attach very great importance, and it is this: The experiments with women, and so on, which were described here are so utterly in contradiction to my views as regards women, that I would have resented such experiments most deeply, not only now, afterwards, but then, at the time.

Q. Well, now, just one other experiment, then I will pass to the question of knowledge of these experiments at that time. Did you or did you not know that the Sanitatswesen of the Luftwaffe were, in May, 1944, working on experiments, in which concentration camp inmates were used, to render sea- water drinkable.

A. No, that I did not know. But I would like to explain how it may have happened. Not even the Medical Inspectorate need have known of it. An

[Page 282]

order was given by the Inspectorate - and even assuming that I had given that order - it does not at all follow that experiments were carried out on human beings and endangered their lives. If a medical officer of the Luftwaffe Reserve had any sort of connection, let us say, with Himmler or his Research Institute, but was also at the same time a member of the SS, which was quite possible, then these were cross- connections of which the Luftwaffe Medical Inspectorate need not have known anything whatever. Not all methods of procedure were reported to superior authorities.

Q. The first letter that I put to you was dated 26th May, 1942. You say that the facts which Field-Marshal Milch were concerned with - I want to get it as exactly as possible - were merely formal methods of conveying the facts of that date? Do you remember that on 28th July, 1942, Hitler issued a Fuehrer's Decree, countersigned by the defendant Keitel and by the witness Lammers, establishing a Co-ordination Staff for the Armed Forces to deal with health. That is on 28th July, 1942. It was to co-ordinate the coming tasks in the field of health for the armed forces, the Waffen SS, and subordinate organizations. And, if I may remind you so that you may fix it in your memory, "for the purpose of a comprehensive treatment of these offices, a sanitary officer of the Navy and a sanitary officer of the Air Force will be assigned to work under him" - that is the Sanitary Inspector of the Army. Now, listen to this, "the latter, that is, the sanitary officer of the Air Force, in a capacity as a Chief of Staff"; that is the time when Field-Marshal Milch was writing to Wolff about these experiments.

Two months later there was a Fuehrer Decree and one of your officers was to be Chief of Staff of this Co-ordination- Staff. Are you telling the Tribunal that you did not know about the Fuehrer Decree or that your officer was so appointed?

A. Before giving my answer, may I have a look at the decree?

Q. Would you like - ?

A. Yes, I should like to see it.

Q. I have only the English copy.

(The document was handed to the witness.)

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