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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Fifteenth Day: Friday, 30th August, 1946
(Part 14 of 15)

[Page 370]

[GENERAL R. A. RUDENKO, Continued]


A specific structure actually did exist in the military machinery of Hitlerite Germany. Alongside the OKW functioned the General Staff of the Army, as well as the Staffs of the Air Force and the Navy.

The staffs of the individual branches of the services, each in their own sphere of competence, elaborated the corresponding parts of the plans of aggression of Hitlerite Germany. The OKW coordinated and combined this work.

Inasmuch as the decisive part in the realization of the plans of aggression lay on the Army with its numerous and powerfully armoured forces, the outstanding position in the preparation of aggressive measures by the Hitlerite Government was naturally held by the German General Staff.

Therefore, the existing structure of the military machine of Hitlerite Germany by no means excluded, but on the contrary determined, in the elaboration,

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preparation and execution of the criminal aggressive plans of the Hitlerite Government - the most active role for the General Staff.

In order to define the practical role of the German General Staff in the elaboration and preparation of the plans of aggression of Hitlerite Germany, I shall refer to a few facts:

I shall recall, your Honours, the statement of the former Field-Marshal Friedrich Paulus, which he confirmed in this Tribunal.

Paulus stated: "When on 3rd September, 1940, I took office in the OKH, I found there among other plans a still uncompleted preliminary plan of the attack on the Soviet Union, known under the code name of 'Barbarossa.'

The working out of the preliminary 'Barbarossa' plan began in August, 1940, and ended by the carrying out of two military maneouvres (Kriegsspiele) at the Headquarters of the OKH at Zossen, and under my directions the result of these manoeuvres, which served as a basis for the elaborating of directives for the strategical deployment of the troops of the 'Barbarossa' plan, showed that the foreseen disposition on the line Astrakhan-Archangel would lead to the complete defeat of the Soviet State."

Can it possibly not be clear to everybody now that the German General Staff, as well as the OKW, was the creator of the criminal "Barbarossa" plan?

A role no less active was the part played by the German General Staff in the preparation of other plans of aggression of Hitlerite Germany.

Walter Warlimont, a former German general and successor to the defendant Jodl, in his testimony of November, 1945, declared:

"This instruction (concerning 'Barbarossa') was established in the same way as other similar instructions. First a report was made to Hitler by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, on the operational plans."
There can be no doubt that in the elaboration of criminal and aggressive plans, the German General Staff, as well as the OKW, played a decisive role.


The German armed forces and their military leaders perpetrated innumerable crimes in the occupied territories, either independently or in co-operation with the German police agencies.

A simple enumeration of documentary evidence disclosing crimes perpetrated by the German Fascist usurpers in the occupied territories would take too much time.

I shall therefore only refer to individual evidence proving that the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity were systematically perpetrated by the German armed forces on a mass scale, and were organized beforehand and involved all ranks of the German war machine - from the field-marshal to the private.

It is sufficient to recall the instruction of the defendant Keitel of 13th May, 1941, "of the application of military jurisdiction in the 'Barbarossa' region and the special actions of the troops," who received orders to apply "the most drastic measures" on the strength of which German officers had the right to execute without trial, and which established impunity for crimes committed by German military personnel against the peaceful population.

Or the instruction of the same defendant Keitel, of 16th September, 1941, by which he ordered the German troops "to bear in mind that in the countries which are concerned, human life is absolutely of no value and that intimidating action is only effective by resorting to unusual cruelty."

Reference may also be made to the following orders of the OKW: concerning the extermination of Soviet Kommissars taken as prisoners of war; the branding of Soviet prisoners of war; the orders of the defendant Goering concerning the murder of captured Allied pilots; the plundering of occupied territories and the deportation into slavery in Germany of the peaceful population; the order of the

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defendant Donitz forbidding the saving of men from sinking vessels; the order of the former Field-Marshal Reichenau on the conduct of troops in the East, an many others.

All of these have now acquired a common meaning.

These criminal orders, did not as some of the witnesses - such as von Brauchitsch and von Manstein - tried to establish here, remain on paper only. They were put into practice with German punctiliousness.

Hitler's totalitarian State resorted widely to the interaction of its separate offices.

The Tribunal has listened to the testimony of the witness, the former Major General of the Medical Service of the German Army, Walter Schreiber.

Schreiber, who is a bacteriological specialist, told of the plans of the Hitlerite conspirators to use the death-dealing plague bacilli as a weapon in the war. He informed us how this crime, inspired by the German High Command, the General Staff and by the defendants Hermann Goering and Wilhelm Keitel, was conceived and realized.

Only the advance of the Red Army troops towards the frontiers of Germany prevented this criminal plan of the Hitlerite clique, the realization of which would have threatened the whole of Europe with new and dire calamities and devastation.

And it was not by accident in this case that special attention was given to the establishment of a connection between the military machine of Hitlerite Germany and other German State organizations.

The OKW was represented in many German ministries by so- called "liaison officers," and at the same time many ministries had their representatives in the OKW.

Such a connection was utilized especially widely between the activities of the German military and civil authorities in the occupied territories.

But when, confronted by the weight of evidence, the Hitlerite military leaders were obliged to acknowledge their connections with, for instance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of the Occupied Territories in the East, they still flatly refused to admit their connections with the German State Police and the SS. This is easy to understand. The existence alone of such a connection would, per se, disclose their participation in numerous crimes in the occupied territories.

Therefore I consider myself obliged to prove the existence of a criminal connection between the German military command and the German Secret State Police and other police organizations.

This connection arose long before the attack on the Soviet Union by Hitlerite Germany.

In the instruction on "special regions" issued by the OKW on 13th March, 1941, and signed by the defendant Keitel, the necessity was foreseen of coordinating the activities of the SS Reichsfuehrer and the Army Command in occupied territories.

The witnesses Walter Schellenberg and Otto Ohlendorf, former chiefs of the Reich Security Main Office, stated in their evidence at this Trial that as early as in May, 1941, an agreement was concluded between Quartermaster-General Wagner, representative of the OKH, and Heydrich, chief of the Security Police and of the SD, for the execution of instructions of the OKW, which foresaw, in the German armed forces, the organization and form of activities of the Special Security Police "Einsatzgruppen" and the SD.

During the cross-examination of the witness von Brauchitsch, the latter confirmed that he knew of such an agreement between Wagner and Heydrich.

The presence and character of the activities of the Security Police Einsatzgruppen and the SD in the German armed forces are confirmed by documentary evidence.

In the report of 15th October, 1941, of Security Police Einsatzgruppe A," it is stated:

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"Our task was 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 Col.-Gen. Hoeppner, it was very close, almost cordial." And further:

"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 but also in the front areas."

From a letter dated 1st November, 1941, written by the General Commissar for Byelorussia, the butcher Kube, in which even he expresses indignation against the criminal activities of the police organizations in the town of Sluzk, it is apparent that the 2nd Police Battalion, which had carried out mass shooting of Jews in this town, was directly subordinate to the military command.

A trail of blood leads from the orders of Goering, Donitz, Jodl and Keitel, from the criminal agreements of Wagner and Heydrich, from the orders of Reichenau and Mannstein, to the innumerable crimes of the German troops and the "Einsatzgruppen" of the Security Police in the occupied territories.

The blood of millions of innocent victims stains not only the hands of the German soldier Knittel and Obergefreiter Kurt, but also those of the field-marshals of the German Army.

The Hitlerite war machine, headed by the High Command of the Armed Forces and the German General Staff, proved to be the decisive force, with whose aid were plotted and carried out all the criminal plans of aggression of the Hitlerite Government, all the War Crimes and all the Crimes Against Humanity.

The German High Command and the German General Staff were therefore one of the most important organizations for the execution of the criminal conspiracy of the Hitlerite clique, while the higher military authorities of the German armed forces were. active participants of this conspiracy.

As a result of the present proceedings, I consider that the criminal character of this military organization has been fully established.


I proceed to the last organization indicted as criminal, to the Reich Cabinet, which occupied a particularly prominent position in the system of the Fascist dictatorship.

Appendix "C" to the Indictment includes a detailed enumeration of the persons who constituted the Government and who, for this reason, are held responsible for the perpetration of the Hitlerite crimes which are specified in Counts One, Two, Three, and Four of the Indictment.

For nine months the Tribunal has examined the evidence in regard to the monstrous crimes of the Nazis. We have heard here of the crimes of the police and of the Wehrmacht, of the SS and of the Gestapo, of the Reichsgauleiter and of the Reich Commissioners in the occupied territories, of various Fuehrer and Leiter. And we can most emphatically declare that the homogeneity and systematic development of the crimes, the uniformity of the means and methods employed in their perpetration, testify to the fact that these crimes were directed by and carried out on the directives of one single centre. The threads of these various innumerable crimes all lead to the gang of Fascist conspirators and to the criminal Hitlerite Government.

Viewed in this light, the declarations of the counsel for the defence and of the defendants themselves to the effect that, under Hitler, the Council of Ministers was a mere technical machine deprived of any real power, are completely unconvincing. Actually not only did the ministers themselves decide all questions coming within their jurisdiction but they were at the same time the executors of Hitler's will. True it is that it was Hitler who made the final decisions

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pertaining to all official and unofficial discussions and meetings. At the same time, however, one cannot overlook the fact that every single one of Hitler's ministers was a Fuehrer in his own particular department, and by his advice, by the materials presented, by drafts of laws and directives, exercised a very important influence over all decisions taken by Hitler in questions connected with the activities of various departments. Then again, it is impossible to discount the fact that Hitler's will fully harmonized with the personal viewpoints and convictions of his ministers. They were necessary to Hitler just as much as he was necessary to them. Goering, Frick, Rosenberg, Neurath, Speer, Funk and others are unthinkable without Hitler just as Hitler is unthinkable without them. Under Hitler's leadership they actively participated in the planning of the Fascist conspiracy, and every one of them, enacting the role allotted to him in the general criminal plan defining the activities of literally all the departments, wittingly and actively carried out that plan.

Since they were the leaders of all the corresponding central departments of Hitlerite Germany - Finance, Economy, Justice, Transport, etc. - they held in their hands, from 1933 to 1945, full legislative, executive, administrative and political power. And they used this power in order to realize the criminal plans for seizing foreign territories, for annihilating races and peoples and for establishing world domination. And in order to facilitate the execution of these criminal plans, they first of all seized the power over the German people and the German State, and supported this power by draconian measures.

The wave of Fascist terror swept over the whole of Germany even before Hitler's accession to power. It stiffened conspicuously after Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 and when the defendants Frick, Papen and Neurath became ministers in the Government of the Reich. Taking advantage of their presence in the Government, these Fascist ministers fully legalized the terror wrought by the shock units of the Nazi Party and prepared the coming seizure of power, achieving this aim by burning down the Reichstag, as organized by the defendant Goering.

Immediately after the seizure of power by the Fascists - on 24th March 1933 - a law was issued "On the Defence of the People and the State," giving legislative power to the Government of the Reich over the head of the Reichstag.

On 26th May, 1933, the Reich Government issued a decree on the confiscation of the property of the Communist organizations, and as from 14th June of the same year of the property of the Social-Democratic organizations as well. On 1st December, 1933, the criminal Government of the Reich promulgated the law "On Safeguarding the Unity of the Party and the Government," which bore the signature of Hitler and of the defendant Frick.

Continuing the liquidation of the democratic institutions, the Reich Government in 1933, by virtue of the law "Upon the Reconstruction of the Reich," cancelled democratic elections for all central and local representative institutions. The Reichstag was changed by the Fascists into an institution void of all real meaning.

By virtue of the law of 7th April, 1933, and others, all civil servants, including judges, who had at any time been noted for their anti-Fascist inclinations, or who belonged to leftist organizations, together with the Jews, were dismissed from their offices and replaced by Fascists. Pursuant to "the basic principle of German law on civil officials" of 26th January, 1937, "the moral bond between the civil servant and the Party is a prerequisite to his being appointed ... the civil servant should be the executor of the will of the National Socialist Government, led by the NSDAP."

The complete submergence in Fascism of the Government machine in Germany enabled the Hitlerite conspirators to utilize it at a later period as an obedient tool for the perpetration of all their criminal plans.

The Hitlerite Government introduced a number of measures designed to implant the ideology of Fascism and mislead the people of Germany.

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