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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
August 26, 1946

Two Hundred and Eleventh Day: Monday, 26th August, 1946
(Part 3 of 12)

[DR. LATERNSER continues his cross examination of Walter Schreiber]

[Page 44]

Q. You say that at this conference in July, 1943, the colonel was acting Field-Marshal Keitel and General Reinecke?

A. Yes.

Q. How do you know that?

A. First of all, the meeting took place in General Reinecke's office. The colonel who was presiding was his chief of staff, and we had been ordered to come to a meeting at the General Wehrmachtsamt at such and such a time, and the colonel also mentioned General Field-Marshal Keitel's name.

Q. But you cannot say whether it was actually ordered by him?

A. No, I did not see the order.

Q. Well, then, you do not know it?

A. No, I only know what the colonel told us officially.

Q. You also said you supposed the High Command of the Army had been informed, namely, by Professor Handloser.

A. Yes.

Q. What facts made you assume this?

A. I personally made a report to Generaloberstabsarzt Handloser, and Handloser expressed his opinion about the matter to me. It was an extremely serious matter for us doctors, for if there really should be a plague epidemic it was clear that it would not stop at the fronts, but it would come over to us too. We had to bear a very great responsibility.

Q. You have deviated a little. We will come back to this point. I wanted to know whether you can give any facts to prove that the High Command of the Army was informed?

A. No. I cannot.

Q. It is a pure assumption, then?

A, Yes. But it is quite obvious -

Q. Never mind if it is obvious or not, I want to know whether you know of any facts?

A. No, I cannot give any facts.

Q. Do you know to whom Professor Handloser was subordinate?

A. To three persons. He was Chief of the Wehrmacht Medical Department and in that capacity was under Field-Marshal Keitel of the OKW. He was Army Medical Inspector and in that capacity was under the Commander of the Reserve Army, Generaloberst Fromm, and later Reichsfuehrer SS and Juettner, and thirdly, he was Army Doctor, that is, Chief Medical Officer of the Army, and in this capacity was subordinate to the Chief of the General Staff of the Field Army.

Q. You were also questioned about the reasons why this bacteriological warfare was not carried out. What actual reasons are known to you?

A. The head of the institute at Posen, Professor Blome, reported the destruction and total loss of the Posen institute to me when he visited me. He told me of his plight.

Q. Do you yourself know whether a military command authority gave the positive order that this bacteriological warfare was not only to be prepared but was also to be carried out?

A. No, I did not see any order.

Q. Then these were merely preparations?

[Page 95]

A. Preparations for bacteriological warfare was what I said.

Q. With which high-ranking general did you yourself speak about this bacteriological warfare?

A. I did not speak to any general.

Q. Do you know from your own knowledge whether any high- ranking general was informed of these intentions? I am asking you whether you know it?

A. I was not present when a general was informed about them.

Q. Then you do not know it?

A. No.

Q. Do you know how far apart the enemy troops and our troops were usually at the front?

A. That differed a great deal.

Q. What was the normal distance?

A. I am not a front soldier. I would not like to speak of a subject of which I know nothing.

Q. We will assume that the enemy troops were normally at a distance of 600 to 1,000 metres from our own troops. Would you, as a doctor, consider the use of plague bacteria safe and not dangerous for our own troops?

A. I would always consider the use of plague bacteria as dangerous, no matter what the distance was.

Q. Well, let us assume that such a devilish idea as actually to use bacteria did exist. Would that not have involved our troops in serious danger?

A. Not only our troops but the whole German people; for the refugees were moving from east to west. The plague would have spread very swiftly to Germany.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, it is useless to ask the same question over again. The witness has already said so.


Q. May that not have been one of the reasons why this warfare was not used?

A. According to the statements made to me by Herr Blome, who was head of the institute and who had been appointed by the Reichsmarschall, no. He was using all his efforts trying to cultivate his cultures somewhere else.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, may I ask for the recess now and ask a few more questions of the witness later?

THE PRESIDENT: No, Dr. Laternser, the Tribunal thinks you should finish now.


Q. You say, on Page 7 of your written statement, that in Norway 400 Yugoslav prisoners of war were shot out of hand because an epidemic had broken out among them. You say that this was a labour camp of the Waffen SS.


Q. This incident was reported to you?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you report it to your superior?

A. Yes.

Q. What was done?

A. A letter was immediately sent to the Chief Medical Officer of SS and Police. Professor Grawitz and through these official channels the affair was reported to the office which was the supervisory agency for this camp.

Q. Do you know whether any legal steps were taken?

A. I do not know how the SS courts work. I do not know.

Q. Then you write on the same page: "Specially cruel treatment was meted out to the Russian prisoners of war by the High Command of the Wehrmacht."

A. Yes

[Page 96]

Q. Then you write that the Russian prisoners of war were given inadequate food.

A. Yes.

Q. Now I ask you, when were those observations made concerning the inadequate food? Immediately after the capture in the reception camps behind the front or in prison camps in Germany?

A. I am not speaking of what happened in the reception camps immediately after the fighting. There, even with the best intentions, the State which has taken prisoners is not always able to care for them as might be necessary. I am speaking of a later period when the prisoners had been in the hands of the Germans for weeks and I am speaking of camps which were in the Baltic countries. They were not taken to Germany. The Russian prisoners were brought to Germany only later. The conditions in these camps were extremely poor.

Q. Were these bad conditions due to bad intentions?

A. I assume that these bad conditions were due to basic ideological questions -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, the Tribunal did not allow the statement to be put in and you are now cross-examining upon a subject which is totally distinct from the subjects upon which the witness has given evidence.

DR. LATERNSER: These statements are in the written statement of the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you must have heard that we did not allow the written statement to be put in evidence. We asked that the witness should be examined orally and he was examined orally, and the written statement is not yet in evidence.


Q. I have one more question, witness. Did you ever write down your objections to this bacteriological warfare?

A. Yes, in the memorandum which I mentioned before.

Q. When did you submit that memorandum?

A. In 1942; may I now -

Q. That is enough. The conference took place in July, 1943. Afterwards did you put your divergent views on this point in writing?

A. No, I did not put anything into writing.

Q. After you reported to him, did your superior put his objections in writing?

A. Not that I know of. General Oberstabsarzt Handloser was at headquarters and I in Berlin. He came once a week or once every two weeks. We reported to him and then he went back to headquarters.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Before we continue I will deal with three applications. First of all, the application of Dr. Kauffmann of 20th August, 1946. It appears originally to have been dated 15th August. That application will be granted, and an affidavit by the witness Panzinger may be put in evidence, provided it is put in evidence before the end of the trial.

With reference to the application by Dr. Pelckmann, dated originally 22nd August, 1946, the application is denied.

The two applications by Dr. Dix dated 20th and 21st August, both applications are denied.

Now, is there any further cross-examination on behalf of the defence?

Does the Soviet prosecution desire to re-examine?

[Page 97]

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The questioning by the Soviet prosecution is finished, Mr. President. We have no more questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, Dr. Pelckmann.

DR. PELCKMANN (for the SS and SD): First, I should like to refer to two points. In the letter of 23rd August I announced that my final speech cannot be translated. Secondly, I should like to remind the that Tribunal that the -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Pelckmann, sixty pages of it have already been translated, I understand.

DR. PELCKMANN: Yes. The French translation, however, has not been made yet. Furthermore, I beg to point out to the Tribunal that the answers to the interrogatory which I sent to the witness Rauschnigg have apparently not been received yet.

Your Lordship and gentlemen of the Tribunal, when, on 27th February, 1933, the German Reichstag was destroyed by fire, the Nazis willed that out of those flames the Third Reich, that was to last for a thousand years, should be born. When, a little more than twelve years later, the whole of Germany was engulfed in a sea of flames, that Reich went down in rubble and ruins.

Both of those historic events were followed by trials. Their meaning was and is to determine who were responsible for those two crimes of human history.

The German Supreme Court did not solve that task. It is true that it acquitted with remarkable courage, as Mr. Jackson has stated, the indicted Communists, but it failed to determine and certainly to sentence those who were really guilty, who hired the unfortunate tool, van der Lubbe, and who performed the deed with him. Thus, under the impact of public opinion, the truth has been muzzled and has been concealed by the Nazi Government. Formal justice has been satisfied. The culprit had been sentenced but that divine power, Truth, and the deepest human insight remained hidden. These alone would have been able to open the eyes of the German people at that time and to hold it back from the abyss.

Now this High Tribunal, this Court of the World, faces the task of passing judgment. Whose guilt was that world conflagration? Who was responsible for the destruction of foreign lands and finally for the downfall of our German Fatherland? And again there exists the danger that this Court too should pass merely a formal verdict, naming guilty ones - but that the deepest and last truth should remain hidden by the power of psychosis which, in accordance with the laws of psychology and psycho-analysis, would be the natural consequence of the many years of struggle between the Hitler regime and the free peoples of the world.

Will this Tribunal be in a position to save, by its verdict, Germany and all the world from an abyss deeper and more horrible than anything experienced before?

This trial is a criminal trial. It is truly the greatest as far as the number of defendants and people concerned, and above all, the most important which ever was recorded by legal history, but yet, in all its characteristics, a typical criminal trial. Therefore, it followed that Anglo- Saxon legal principle which governed the Charter, which was reaffirmed during the public proceedings, the principle that the prosecution had to collect and to present only those factors which could incriminate, never those that could excuse the accused. Effectively, the prosecution is supported by the mass psychosis to which all the witnesses of the test causes celebres of world history are subject, for reasons which international scientists, particularly Le Bon have given in detail. Openly and cheerfully I confess that in the course of the defence which I conducted I did not use the

[Page 98]

corresponding principle of painting in black and white. I, too, was endangered by the possible mass suggestion exerted by those hundreds of thousands of voices which reached me from the internment camps, and I was tempted to defend any price - losing by that, that basis of facts, as they actually were. This result shows already the dangerous reaction brought about by such a mass accusation and its political consequences.

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