The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/03/30

Q. So that, if an Army Group Commander intended to protest
against some measure which he did not consider right, then
he had to go to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and he in
turn would have to go to the Commander-in-Chief

                                                  [Page 354]

of the particular branch of the armed forces so that this
was practically the only channel through which objections
could be made to Hitler in the normal official way?

A. That is perfectly correct. All military departments did
that and it had been done for a number of years.

Q. What do you know about Himmler's attempt to set Hitler
against the Generals. When I say "Generals" I mean the ones
who come under the "Group."

A. I have perhaps already answered that in part when I
complained that we were not in a position to prevent
military reports and news from irresponsible sources from
reaching the Fuehrer. It was a current phenomenon that
particularly police circles continually used the opportunity
to criticise through Himmler the traditional, or, as they
called it, the reactionary, humanitarian, chivalrous
attitude of the higher military leaders, which obstructed
the severe orders of the Fuehrer for brutal action, as he
called it. This was a continuous state of affairs, not all
of them were involved, and not all the Army Commanders, but
it did affect quite a number.

Q. Colonel-General, you still have not quite answered my
question. I asked you whether you knew anything about
Himmler's attempts to make Hitler hostile, for reasons which
I hope you will tell me.

A. Well, the outcome of what I have just described was that
Himmler would go to the Fuehrer and report to him,
privately, of course. He would complain about certain
commanders, all of them Army Commanders, and we knew about
it because the following day the Fuehrer would suddenly
begin to raise some objection to this commander without our
knowing why and would make bad feeling.

Q. What was the relationship between the OKW and the OKH?

A. Before the war, and during the first part of the war, the
relationship between the High Command of the Armed Forces
and the High Command of the Army was made difficult by
considerable tension. The reason, however, was exclusively
an internal military one, because by creating the High
Command of the Armed Forces, a general staff group had come
into being which was outside the jurisdiction of the Chief
of the General Staff of the Army, and which was, I should
say, over the General Staff of the Army and could give them
orders. This group was, of course, regarded with a great
deal of distrust by the General Staff of the Army. I might
add, however, that Field Marshal Keitel and I and many other
of the more reasonable officers succeeded in overcoming this
tension as the war went on.

Q. I think, General, that that is enough on that point.

The military leaders are accused of having delayed the end
of a hopeless war unnecessarily. What do you know about the
efforts of Field Marshal von Rundstedt and Rommel after the
invasion had succeeded?

A. I remember a conference with these two
Commanders-in-Chief, when the Fuehrer flew together with me
to the headquarters which had been prepared north of Rheims.
That was about July 1944. During that conference, both Field
Marshal von Rundstedt and, particularly, Rommel described in
an unmistakable manner the seriousness of the entire
situation in France; characterised by the tremendous
superiority of the Anglo-Saxon Air Force, against which
ground operations were powerless. I remember quite clearly
that Field Marshal Rommel asked the Fuehrer at the end, "My
Fuehrer, what do you really think about our chances of
continuing the war?" The Fuehrer was rather angry at this
remark, and he only answered shortly, "That is a question
which is no part of your duty. You will have to leave that
to me."

Q. Did you read the letter which Field Marshal von Kluge
wrote to Hitler shortly before he died?

A. I stood next to the Fuehrer when he received this letter.
He opened the envelope, read the letter, and then gave it to
me to read. It said exactly the opposite of what I had
expected. Field Marshal von Kluge began his letter with
tremendous recognition of the Fuehrer's personality, by
describing how he had admired him and the energy with which
he had held out during this war. He

                                                  [Page 355]

said that he was probably psychologically much closer to him
than the Fuehrer could imagine. He had begun his task in the
West full of confidence, but as the promised support of our
own Air Force had not arrived, he was now convinced that the
situation was hopeless, and in the last hour of his life he
could give him only one piece of good advice, and that was
to make peace now. That, briefly, was what the letter

Q. Colonel-General, can you give further examples regarding
the efforts of the commanders to end the hopeless war?

A. No commander could touch upon the political question,
because the ending of a war is not a military but a
political decision. But indirectly I have to say that there
was not a single officer in a responsible position who did
not tell the Fuehrer soberly, honestly, and openly, what the
military situation was and describe it as hopeless, as
indeed it turned out to be at the end. I, myself, too,
expressed this view of mine in writing in a memorandum to
the Fuehrer.

Q. I have a few questions regarding the various campaigns.

What was the attitude of the High Command of the Army,
particularly Field Marshal von Brauchitsch, regarding the
Austrian campaign?

A. The evening before the march into Austria at about two
o'clock in the morning, I was with Field Marshal von
Brauchitsch. I found him in a very dejected mood. I didn't
really see any reason for that, but apparently he was
convinced or he believed that this march into Austria might
possibly lead to a military conflict either with Italy or
with Czechoslovakia, or perhaps from a political point of
view he was not altogether very pleased about this impending
increase, this considerable increase of the South German
element in the Reich. I do not know, but at any rate he was
most dejected.

Q. What were the reasons for the tension which existed
between Hitler on one side and the military leaders on the
other after the Polish campaign?

A. The conflict was particularly serious at that time,
because the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and many of the
higher generals held just that view to which I testified
this morning, namely, that one should remain quiet in the
West to end the war. As this again was a political argument
which they could not use, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army
presented a military argument to the Fuehrer at that time,
to the effect that, considering the condition in which our
Army was at the time, it would not be in a position to
defeat an army like the French Army, strengthened by the
British Army in an offensive. That made the Fuehrer
extremely bitter and this bitterness expressed itself
repeatedly in every speech to the commanders. The entire
speech of 23rd November, the entire memorandum which he
wrote on 10th October, can only be explained by that
conflict and seen in that light.

Q. The prosecution, as a basis for the indictment of the
Group, has presented a number of affidavits. I should like
to ask you to state your views in connection with Affidavit
12, Exhibit USA 557, which was made by Walter Schellenberg.
There on Page 1, Schellenberg testifies that in the front or
fighting areas the SD - "Einsatzgruppen" (Action Groups of
the SD), were entirely under the command of the Armies. That
is to say, tactically, technically and from the point of
view of troop service, as he says in his affidavit. Is that
true, Colonel-General?

A. It is only true to a very limited extent. I must start my
answer by saying I was not familiar with the idea of the
"Einsatzgruppe" and "Einsatzkommando" until I came here to
Nuremberg. I must say that quite openly, even at the risk of
being called a "Parsifal," but it is a fact. I only knew
about the police. The operational territory of the Army was
divided into three sectors. The front area was called the
fighting area, and that went back approximately as far as
the enemy artillery could fire. In that area everything was
subordinate to the Army in every way. But in that area there
were no police, except the Secret Field Police, who were in
any case fully under the jurisdiction of the Army.

Q. The Secret Field Police were actually a part of the
division, were they not?

                                                  [Page 356]

A. Yes, they were divisional troops which carried out police
duties among the troops. Then came the area behind the lines
which was under the Army Commanders; and behind that were
the lines of communication in which were all the
reinforcement columns and equipment of the Quartermaster
General of the Army. In this main sector, which was by far
the largest sector, as it comprised ninety-seven per cent of
the entire operational area, the entire police and
everything that did not belong to the Army organically was
not under the command of the Army as far as tasks were
concerned but under the police, that is, under the
Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler. Only from the standpoint of
servicing them, that is, in regard to their supplies or
movements during advance or retreat, did the Army have the
jurisdiction to give them orders regarding their movements
and their accommodation.

Q. Schellenberg states that in the rear operational areas
and in the rear Army areas these "Einsatz" groups came under
the RSHA, not only as far as supplies, but also as far as
orders and tasks are concerned. Is that correct?

A. That is correct. The entire police received orders about
what they were to do only from Himmler.

Q. Schellenberg also states further in his Affidavit 12,
Exhibit USA 557, that they were under the command of the
Army in regard to discipline. Is that true?

A. That is wrong. An officer of the Army could never punish
a member of the police or the SS.

Q. As has been established, the chief task of these
"Einsatz" groups was to carry out mass extermination of Jews
and Communists. Schellenberg states in his Affidavit 12 that
he was convinced that the Commanders-in-Chief of the army
groups and armies had been clearly informed of these tasks
through official channels. Since Schellenberg has stated his
conviction in this affidavit, I ask you to give us yours,
because I think I am right in assuming that you were one of
the most fully informed officers of the armed forces.

A. I cannot of course judge exactly what the Commanders
actually experienced while they were together at the front,
but I can say with absolute certainty that I have never seen
an order which revealed that these police groups had been
sent into the operational zone for any other purpose than
that of maintaining quiet and order from the police point of
view and discovering revolts and partisan activities. I have
never seen a report or an order which contained anything
other than that.

Q. Do you believe, Colonel-General, that the Commanders of
the Armies or Army Groups would have tolerated those
conditions without protest?

A. I consider that that is out of the question, because even
in the case of much smaller incidents they raised the most
violent protests. Hundreds of documents which have been
offered by the prosecution here prove continually, sentence
by sentence, how the troops at the front had objected
against measures which they considered either inadmissible
from a human point of view or dangerous to peace and order
in the occupied territories. I have only to remind you of
Blaskowitz's memorandum, which was one of the first.

Q. Did you read that memorandum?

A. No, I did not read it. I only heard about it.

Q. Furthermore, the prosecution has submitted Affidavit 13,
from Captain Wilhelm Scheidt. It is Exhibit USA 558. Scheidt
says in this affidavit, and I quote from Page 2:-

  "It was a generally known fact that the partisan fights
  were conducted with cruelty on both sides."

I omit a sentence. He goes on to say:

  "There is no question but that these facts must have been
  known to the leading officers in the Armed Forces
  Operations Staff and in the General Staff of the Army. It
  was also known that it was Hitler's view that in the
  fight against partisans only the use of cruel,
  intimidating punishment could be successful."

                                                  [Page 357]

Is Captain Scheidt's statement correct, namely, that the
leading officers of the Armed Forces Operations Staff and
the General Staff of the Army knew of the cruelty employed
by both sides in the partisan warfare?

A. What we knew about the partisan warfare and, above all,
how it was conducted by our opponents has already been
submitted to this Tribunal. I refer to the instructions
which I signed regarding the combating of partisans in
Exhibit RF 665. At the beginning of that there is a lengthy
discourse on how the partisans conducted this war. Of
course, we did not invent that. That was extracted from
hundreds of reports. That troops in such a fight, when they
themselves experienced the methods employed by the opponent,
would also on their part not be exactly mild, can readily be

In spite of that, the directives which we issued never
contained a word to the effect that no prisoners were to be
taken in these partisan fights. On the contrary, all reports
showed that the number of prisoners taken was greater by far
than the number of killed. That it was the Fuehrer's view
that in their fight against the partisans the troops should
not in any way be restricted is authentically proved by the
many arguments which I, as well as the General Staff of the
Army, had with the Fuehrer.

Q. What if the commanders received reports about cruelties
committed by their own soldiers?

A. Then they would be court-martialed. That again is
established in the documents. I remind you of an order
issued by the Fuehrer, which begins with the sentence: "It
has been reported to me that individual soldiers of the
armed forces have been dealt with by courts-martial because
of their behaviour when fighting partisans."

Q. And that was the only thing a commander could do in a
case like that?

A. There was no other way open. And even after these orders,
he always acted in accordance with his own legal conception.
Who could stop him from doing that?

Q. The prosecution has also submitted Affidavit 15, by
General Rottiger, which is Exhibit USA 559. In this
affidavit General Rottiger states, in the middle of Page 1:

  "Only now, on the strength of documents put before me, do
  I realize that in issuing the order to employ the
  severest measures to fight partisans, the highest levels
  might possibly have had in mind the final aim of using
  these measures against partisans by the Army as a means
  for the relentless exterminating of Jewry and other
  undesirable elements."

Did the military leadership at the highest level hold any
such point of view, and was that their final aim?

A. No. Of course, one is wise after the event. I, too, have
learned many things today which I did not know before.
However, this knowledge does not apply here, because there
were next to no Jews among the partisans. In the main, these
partisans were fanatical Russian fighters, mostly White
Russians, and were as hard as steel. And, to a question put
by my defence counsel, even the witness Barzelewski had to
admit that there were next to no Jews amongst the partisan

As regards the extermination of Slavs, I can only say that
the Slavs who were killed in the partisan fighting amounted
to no more than one-twentieth or one-thirtieth part of the
numbers which in the normal, large-scale battles with the
Soviet armies, the enemy lost in dead or wounded. As far as
figures are concerned, therefore, that view carries no
weight at all, is a completely misguided one.

Q. A further affidavit, number 60 by the same General
Rottiger, was submitted by the prosecution as Exhibit USA
560. In the last sentence General Rottiger states the

  "Although generally speaking one knew what the special
  tasks of those SD units were, and although they were
  carried out apparently with the know-

                                                  [Page 358]

  ledge of the highest leaders of the armed forces, we
  opposed these methods as far as possible - since it meant
  endangering our own troops."

In other words, General Rottiger, .in his affidavit,
maintains that the special tasks of the SD units were
apparently carried out with the knowledge of the highest
military leaders. If that is correct, then, you,
Colonel-General, must have known about these tasks. But you
have already denied that.

A. Yes, I have already answered. I have never spoken to a
single officer who had knowledge of these matters and told
me about them.

Q. Also, in the case against the General Staff and the OKW,
the prosecution has submitted Affidavit 17, Exhibit USA 562.
This affidavit comes from SS-Fuehrer Rode. Rode states, at
the top of Page 2:

  "As proof, one can quote the OKW and OKH order, which
  stated that all members of partisan groups who had been
  captured, such as Jews, agents and political commissars,
  were to be handed over by the troops to the SD for
  'special treatment,' without delay. Apart from that this
  order contained instructions that in guerrilla fighting
  no prisoners, apart from the above-mentioned, were to be

Colonel-General, was there an order that in guerrilla
fighting no prisoners were to be taken?

A. Such an order never existed. I have never seen such an
order. It was not contained in the instructions regarding
guerrilla fighting. Apart from that, practically every word
in that statement is untrue. There never was an order from
the OKW-OKH; that is, one order which came from both

"Jews among the guerrillas" - I have already dealt with

"Agents among the guerrillas" - agents - that is a matter by

"Political commissars" - that is quite another point. They
were never handed over to the SD for special treatment, if
they were handed over at all, because the task of the SD was
an entirely different one. They may have been handed over to
the Security Police. In other words, every word is untrue.

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