The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/03/30

THE PRESIDENT: Surely that is not a question for counsel to
put. It is an argument, is it not? It is argument, not
evidence. It is not a proper question to put.

DR. NELTE: I have finished.

BY D R . THOMA (Counsel for the defendant Rosenberg):

Q. Witness, is it true that Rosenberg, in the middle of
January, 1943, gave you and General Zeitzler the draft of a
proclamation to the peoples of Eastern Europe?

A. That is true. It was after the discussion on the
situation. Rosenberg was present in Headquarters. He asked
me and Zeitzler to step into the next room for a moment, and
said that he wanted to submit to the Fuehrer a draft of a
proposed proclamation to the Eastern peoples, and that he
would like to submit it to us first. I recall that.

Q. Do you still recall the contents?

A. They comprised very extensive concessions in regard to
the sovereignty of these individual Eastern States. The
proclamation was a frank attempt, through a policy of
reconciliation, to combat unrest and antagonism to the
German system.

Q. Did you express to Rosenberg your pleasure at this
proclamation?

A. We said then that this had always been our idea, but that
we had doubts whether it was not already too late.

Q. What was the ultimate result?

A. As Rosenberg told me after the conference, the Fuehrer,
as he often did, pigeon-holed the matter; that is, he did
not reject it, but he said: "Put that aside."

Q. Did you gain the impression that Rosenberg's suggestions
arose from concern about the dangers caused by Koch's
methods?

A. Undoubtedly it was an attempt to counteract those methods
which were gradually used by Himmler and, in particular, by
Koch.

DR. THOMA: Thank you, I have no more questions.

BY DR. HANSEL (Counsel for the SS):

Q. Was the strategic commitment of the divisions of the
Waffen-SS under you?

A. The divisions of the Waffen-SS, in regard to commitment,
were generally treated like the divisions of the Army.

Q. How many Waffen-SS divisions were there, according to
your recollection? Please mention the number of Wehrmacht
divisions also so that one has a means of comparison.

A. I believe, at the beginning of the war, we began with
three SS divisions. The number increased until the end of
the war to an estimated thirty-five to thirty-seven
divisions, as against a number of Army divisions which
varied, but which one can give approximately as about 280 to
300.

                                                  [Page 380]

Q. What was the procedure in the setting-up of new
divisions? Who decided whether such a new division would be
a Waffen-SS division or a Wehrmacht division?

A. As soon as the Fuehrer had ordered the establishment of a
new series of divisions, he said, after consulting Himmler,
that so-and-so many divisions were to be set up, and
so-and-so many Waffen-SS divisions. He determined the
number.

Q. Was there a certain standard, or was that done
arbitrarily?

A. I had the impression that in setting up the SS divisions,
the Fuehrer wanted to go as far as he absolutely could.

Q. And what do you consider-when you say "could," what do
you consider as the limit?

A. The limit was in the fact that the soldiers of these
Waffen-SS divisions were to be volunteers, and the time came
very soon when Himmler had to report, "I do not get any more
replacements for the divisions," and from this time on, the
situation arose that, when the men came for military duty,
the cream of them was taken by the SS, and even if they were
the sons of peasants who were strict Catholics, they were
drafted into the SS divisions. I myself received bitter
letters from the farmers' wives about this.

Q. In connection with this drafting into the Waffen-SS that
you have just described, were political viewpoints taken
into account? Was a recruit first questioned politically in
some way before he was taken into the Waffen-SS, or was no
consideration given to this?

A. No, the decisive thing was that the fellow was big,
looked healthy and promised to become a good soldier. That
was the decisive thing.

Q. You said yesterday that in the drafting of recruits, no
consideration was given to whether a man belonged to the SA
or not. Is the same thing true of membership in the General
SS? I mean in this sense, was no consideration given to
whether the recruit belonged to the General SS, either in
drafting, in training, or in promotion?

A. Not to such an extent as in the case of the SA. I believe
that the majority of the men in the General SS came to the
Waffen-SS and volunteered. But I also know that very many
did not do that and were drafted in the normal way by the
Army, so that they were treated in the Army just like any
other German.

Q. If I understand you correctly then, there were many
members of the General SS who served in the Army on the one
hand, and on the other hand there were many who belonged
neither to the Party nor to the SS, but served in the
Waffen-SS.

A. That is true; it does not apply to the very beginning of
the war, but it is absolutely true for the second half of
the war.

Q. And this second half of the war contained the greater
number?

A. Undoubtedly, the ... the second half I always call that
which was after the big losses in the first Russian campaign
of 1941.

Q. How strong was the total Waffen-SS at the end of the war,
approximately?

A. About 480,000 men.

Q. And the losses, that is, the dead and captured, would be
added to this number?

A. Yes, they would be added.

Q. And do you have any idea of the figure?

A. It is hard to give an estimate.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

BY MR. ROBERTS, K.C.:

Q. Witness, you told the Tribunal two days ago that you had
soldiering in the blood, is that right?

A. Yes, this is true.

Q. Very good. And you said yesterday that you were here to
represent the honour of the German soldier, is that right?

                                                  [Page 381]

A. Yes.

Q. Very good, yes. And you put yourself forward as an
honourable soldier.

A. With full consciousness, yes.

Q. And you put yourself forward as a truthful man.

A. I represented myself as such a man, and I am.

Q. Very good. Because of the things you say you have been
made to do in the last six or seven years, do you think your
honour has become at all soiled?

A. My honour was certainly not soiled, for I guarded it
personally.

Q. Very good, you say your honour is not soiled.

During the last six or seven years, when issuing statements
which you say you had to circulate, has your truthfulness
remained at the same high standard?

(No response.)

Q. Can your not answer that question?

A. I believe I am too dull for that question.

Q. Very good, then if you are too dull, I will not persist
in it; I will go on. I will leave the question and I will go
on.

In 1935, you were Lieutenant-Colonel at the head of the Home
Defence Department of the Wehrmacht, is that right?

A. Absolutely right.

Q. That is Department L, Landesverteidigung, is that right?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And was Field Marshal von Blomberg your superior?

A. Field Marshal von Blomberg was not my direct superior,
but one of my superiors.

Q. Did you work a good deal with Field Marshal von Blomberg?

A. On various occasions I reported to him personally, of
course not nearly so much as the Chief of the General
Department of the Wehrmacht.

Q. Did you attend staff talks with him?

A. I did not attend conferences with Blomberg when many
people were present. I believe that there were seldom more
persons there than General Keitel and myself, and perhaps
another chief of a department.

Q. And would they be called staff talks?

A. No, those conferences took place in the Office of the
Chief of the General Department.

Q. Did you go to staff talks?

A. Of course, since I belonged to the staff.

Q. Very good; I thought that.

Now, will you please look at the Document C-139, Exhibit USA
53. First look at the signature, will you. That is signed by
Blomberg, is it not?

A. That is signed by Blomberg, yes.

Q. Now, that is dealing with Operation "Schulung." Do you
remember what Operation "Schulung" was?

(No response.)

Q. That is the reoccupation of the Rhineland, is it not?

(No response.)

Q. Can you not answer me?

A. I can answer you as soon as I have read that.

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, the question was whether you
remember what Operation "Schulung" was. It is not necessary
to read the document in order to answer that question.

A. According to my recollection - I do not know whether it
comes from studying the documents here in Nuremberg - the
term "Schulung" meant preparations for the occupation of the
Rhineland after evacuation of the West-Rhine territories in
the case of French sanctions -

Q. Very good, I agree.

A. But, - there is more to be said in that connection.

                                                  [Page 382]

Q. Now, wait a moment. That is then dealing with the
reoccupation of the Rhineland; do you agree with that?

A. No, that does not deal with the reoccupation of the
Rhineland. That is absolutely false, but it -

Q. Now, just let us look at this document together and see
what it says. Now, first of all, it is dated the 2nd of May,
1935.

"For the operation" - I am reading it to you if you will
follow it, and might I make this point first: It is
apparently so secret that it could not be entrusted to a
stenographer, is it not? The whole document is written in
manuscript, handwriting, is it not?

(No response.)

Q. You can answer that question surely. Can you not see
whether it is in handwriting or not?

A. It is in handwriting, yes.

Q. Well, why not say so?

Now then, let us just look at the document. It is from the
Reich Minister of Defence; that is von Blomberg, is it not?
It is the second copy, "By hand only." It is to the Chief of
the Army High Command, Chief of the Naval High Command, and
the Reich Minister for Air.

  "For the operation suggested in the last staff talks" -
  that is why I asked you whether you went to staff talks,
  you see - "of the Armed Forces, I lay down the code name
  'Schulung.' "

Then, may I just refer briefly to the contents:

  "This is a joint undertaking of the three services. The
  operation must be executed" - and this is a phrase we
  have become familiar with later - "by a surprise blow at
  lightning speed."
  
  "Strictest secrecy is necessary ... only peacetime
  strength ..." And No. 3, "Every improvement of our
  armaments will make possible a greater measure of
  preparedness."

And then: "I ask the Army: How many divisions are ready for
action?" Not one token battalion as you said yesterday.

  "Reinforcement of the necessarily inadequate forces
  there" - that is in the West - "by the East Prussian
  divisions which will be brought here at once by rail or
  sea transport ... High Command of the Navy to look after
  the safe transport of the East Prussian troops by sea, in
  case the overland route is closed."

What could that refer to, that secret instruction, so secret
it had to be in manuscript, if it was not the reoccupation
of the Rhineland?

A. If you will permit me to make quite a brief explanation,
then the Tribunal will be saved a tremendous lot of time.

Q. Please, witness, answer my question first and then make
an explanation after, if it is brief. The question is, what
could it refer to except the reoccupation of the Rhineland?

A. I am not here as a clairvoyant, I do not know the
document, I have never read it; at this time I was not in
the General Department - that has entirely different
signatures - I was in the Operational Section of the Army. I
neither saw nor ever heard of this paper. If you look at the
date, the 2nd May, 1935, it is proven there in writing, for
I entered the General Department only in the middle of June,
1935. Thus, only on the basis of my general staff training
can I give you some assumptions, but the Tribunal does not
want assumptions.

Q. Very good, if that is your answer. And are you saying
that you who heard General Field Marshal von Blomberg's
staff talk, cannot help the Tribunal at all as to what that
secret operation order is about?

A. It was before my time. I was not with von Blomberg then.

Q. Very good. Now, will you look, please, at Document
EC-405. Now - let him see the German book, Page 277.

                                                  [Page 383]

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, that is Page 26 - Has he not a German
book?

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, you did say, did you not, that you
remember that the operation "Schulung" was the preparation
for the occupation of the Rhineland?

THE WITNESS: No, I said the contrary: I said that I heard
the word "Schulung" for the first time here in the Court,
and then I wondered what that could have been.


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