The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/04

Q. After being assigned to the Intelligence Division, how
were your activities principally directed?

A. My responsible chief, or rather the responsible chief at
that time, was Colonel of the General Staff, Boehme; the
section chief to whom I was subordinate, was the chief of
the Intelligence Service, that is to say, the man
responsible to me or rather the one to whom I was
responsible, from whom I received my orders and
instructions; later on it was the Chief of the Austrian
General Staff.

THE PRESIDENT: Can't you shorten this, Colonel Amen? We
really needn't have all this detail.

COLONEL AMEN: Very good, Sir. It is, however, I think
important for the Tribunal to understand more of this
information than they ordinarily would by virtue of the fact
that he was transferred subsequently to a corresponding
position in the German Army, a point which I did want the
Tribunal to appreciate.

Q. Now, will you state to the Tribunal what your principal
activities were after being assigned to the Intelligence
Division? What information were you interested in and
seeking to obtain?

A. If I understand your question correctly, I was a member
of the Austrian Intelligence Service, that is to say, in the
Austrian Intelligence Service and not in the German so-
called "Abwehr."

Q. After the Anschluss, what position did you assume?

A. After the Anschluss I was automatically taken into the
High Command of the German Armed Forces, and did the same
job there. My chief there was Admiral Canaris.

Q. And what was the position of Admiral Canaris?

A. Canaris was, at that time, Chief of the Bureau of the
"Ausland-Abwehr," that is to say, of the Intelligence.

Q. And will you explain briefly the responsibility of the
principal departments of the Abwehr under Admiral Canaris?

A. When, in 1938, I entered the Ausland-Abwehr, after the
"Anschluss," there were three Abwehr Divisions, and the
division then called Ausland-Abwehr at least, I was
acquainted with this Organisation. How it was before, I
cannot say exactly.

Q. And what were your duties?

A. First of all, I was automatically placed in "Abwehr"
Division 1. That is the section which was concerned with
collecting information on secret com-

                                                  [Page 272]

munications, as it was also called. At the time I worked
under the Chief of Section, Colonel-General Pieckenbrock, as
well as Canaris, whom I knew from my Austrian past.

Q. Admiral Canaris was your immediate superior?

A. Admiral Canaris was my immediate superior.

Q. From time to time did you act as his personal

A. Yes, in all cases and on all occasions when his immediate
representative - that is, Colonel Pieckenbrock-was not
present, or when Canaris, for one reason or another,
considered it necessary or advisable for me to appear as his

Q. And in this capacity did you have any contact with Field
-Marshal Keitel?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you also have contact with Jodl

A. To a much lesser degree, but occasionally ...

Q. And did you occasionally attend conferences at which Herr
Hitler was also present?

A. Yes, I attended a few of the sessions or meetings at
which Hitler was present and which he conducted.

Q. Will you tell the Tribunal whether the leaders of the
Abwehr were in sympathy with Hitler's war-programme?

A. I have to make it clear in this connection that we
chiefs, at that time, in the Intelligence Department were
deeply influenced and captivated by the personality of
Canaris, his inner orientation, which was perfectly clear
and unequivocal to a small group of us.

Q. And was there a particular group or groups in the Abwehr
who worked against the Nazis?

A. Within the Ausland-Abwehr Office there were two groups
which, as far as their intentions and actions were
concerned, were closely connected, but which, nevertheless,
must be strictly kept apart.

Q. And what were those two groups?

A. Before I answer this question, I must briefly discuss the
personality of Canaris, who was the centre and focus of this

Q. Please make it as brief as you can.

A. Canaris was a personality of pure intellect. We relied on
his inner, very unique and complicated nature, for this
reason. He hated violence and hated and abominated therefore
Hitler, his system, and particularly his methods. Canaris
was, in whatever way you may look upon him, a human being.

Q. Now, will you refer back to the two groups of which you
spoke and tell me about each of those two groups and their
respective memberships?

A. One might characterise one of the groups as Canaris'
circle. It included, in the "Ausland-Abwehr," and
particularly amongst its leaders, Canaris himself as its
spiritual leader; General Oster, Chief of the Central
Division (the Fuehrer of the Abwehr) and my predecessor,
Lieutenant-Colonel Grosskurt, who had joined the circle
along with Canaris in Vienna as early as 1938. Further, the
Chief of Abwehr Section 1, Colonel Pieckenbrock, who was a
close friend of Canaris; and Pieckenbrock's successor,
Colonel Hansen, who was executed on 28th June; then there
was my successor, Colonel Freytag-Lorrindhofen, who was
executed, or rather, who committed suicide on 26th July,
1944, before his arrest; also, somewhat differentiated, the
Chief of Abwehr Section III, Colonel Bentivigny. There were,
too, various people in all these sections; most of them were
executed or imprisoned in connection with the events of 20th
July, 1944.

In this connection I have to mention a person who did not
belong to the said groups, but who knew about certain
actions designed to prevent orders or foil the execution of
orders for murder and other atrocities: namely, Admiral
Burckner who was chief of the Auslandsabteilung at that
time. These were essentially the leaders of the group called
the Canaris-circle.

                                                  [Page 273]

The second and smaller group was attached to General Oster,
who was the spiritual leader of the persons in the office of
the Ausland-Abwehr who, as early as 1938 - I could recognise
this clearly by 1939-1940 and later on - were actively
concerned with schemes and plans designed to do away by
force with Hitler, the instigator of this catastrophe.

Q. What was the purpose of the group to which you belonged;
that is, Canaris' inner circle?

A. As regards the political motives or aims, I was not
informed. I can only reiterate the train of thought best
known to me, having been one of Canaris' most intimate
confidants, which determined his basic attitude. This, his
inner attitude, which determined the actions not only of
myself but of the other people whom I mentioned, was as

We did not succeed in preventing this war of aggression. The
war signified the annihilation of Germany and of ourselves
and, as such, would be a misfortune and a catastrophe of the
greatest extent. However, a misfortune even greater than
this catastrophe would be a triumph of this system. To
prevent this was the ultimate aim and purpose of our

What I have just said was often expressed by Canaris in the
group of which I am speaking.

Q. Now, did this group of which you and Canaris were members
meet frequently?

A. I must explain that this group or circle was not to be
regarded as an organisation in the technical sense, or as a
sort of conspirators' club. That would have been completely
contradictory to Canaris' nature. It was more of a spiritual
organisation of people of the same convictions, who were
perspicacious and well informed. Their official functions
provided them with the necessary knowledge. These people
understood each other and acted jointly, while maintaining
their complete individuality.

This is the reason for the differentiation of which I spoke
in the beginning. Different demands were made on each
individual. Canaris approached at any one time the person
whose character he knew from his personal knowledge to be
the fittest to carry out a certain task.

Q. Did you have conversations at those official meetings, at
which Canaris expressed his views with respect to the use of
force in Poland, for example?

A. These and similar methods were repeatedly, I may say,
discussed in our circle. They were repudiated as a matter of

Q. Do you recall what Canaris said about the Polish war at
the time of its commencement?

A. I very well recall the hour at which Canaris entered,
completely broken, and informed us of the fact that the
situation had become serious after all, although it had
appeared before as if the matter might still be postponed.
He told us then: "This is the end."

Q. Did you have conversations with Canaris and the other
members of your group with respect to eliminating Nazis from
your staff?

A. While I was still in Vienna, before entering service in
the O.K.W., I received instructions from Canaris not to
admit to his office in Berlin any National Socialists. I was
also instructed, whenever possible, not to admit any Party
members or officers sympathising with the Party to high
positions in my section. Thus the actual organisation -

Q. Did Canaris keep a diary?

A. Yes, Canaris kept a diary - he had done so even before
the beginning of the war - a diary to which I personally
contributed many portions.

Q. Was it a part of your duties to make entries in that

A. No, it was not a part of my immediate duties, but it just
turned out as a matter of course that, as regards those
conferences which I attended as Canaris'

                                                  [Page 274]

representative, or at which I was present, I recorded such
conferences in his diary.

Q. And did you keep copies of the entries which you made in
Canaris' diary?

A. Yes, I kept copies, with Canaris' knowledge and

Q. I have you the original of some of those copies with you
here to-day?

A .I have not got them on my person, but they are available.

Q. And you have refreshed your recollection in reference to
those entries

A. Yes.

Q. What was the purpose of Canaris in keeping such a diary

A. If I answer this question I must, in the interests of
truth, repeat the words that Canaris addressed to me on this
subject. Others know also what I am saying now.

The purpose of his diary - and it is Canaris' voice speaking
now through me - the purpose of his diary was to show the
German people and the world, once and for all, how those who
were guiding the fate of the people at this time acted.

Q. Now, do you recall attending conferences with Canaris at
the Fuehrer's headquarters just prior to the fall of Warsaw?

A. I and Canaris took part in a conference which did not
take place in the Fuehrer's headquarters, but in the so-
called Fuehrer's train, shortly before the fall of Warsaw.

Q. And having refreshed your recollection from reference to
the entries in Canaris' diary, can you tell the Tribunal the
date of those conferences?

A. According to the notes and documents at my disposal, it
was on 12th September, 1939.

Q. Did each of these conferences take place on the same day?

A. The conferences in the Fuehrer's train took place on 12th
September, 1939.

Q. And was there more than one conference on that day? Were
they split into several conferences?

A. I cannot call them sessions; they were discussions,
conversations, of shorter or longer duration, but not
actually conferences.

Q. And who was present on this occasion?

A. Present, independent of time and location, were the
following: Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop; Keitel, the
Chief of the O.K.W.; the president of the "Wehrmacht-
Fuehrungstab" at that time, Jodl; Canaris; and myself.

Q. Do you see Ribbentrop in this court room?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you indicate for the record where he is sitting?

A. Over there -(indicating)- in the first row, third from
the left.

Q. Do you also see Keitel in the court room

A. Yes; he is next to Ribbentrop.

Q. Do you also see Jodl in the court room?

A. Yes; he is in the second row, next to Herr von Papen.

Q. Now, to the best of your knowledge and recollection, will
you please explain, in as much detail as possible, to the
Tribunal, exactly what was said and what took place at this
conference in the Fuehrer's train?

A. First of all, Canaris had a short talk with Ribbentrop,
in which von Ribbentrop explained political aims in general,
with regard to the Polish regions, and in particular with
regard to the Ukrainian question. Later the Chief of the
O.K.W. took up the Ukrainian question in subsequent
discussions which took place in his private working
carriage. These are recorded in the notes which I took down
immediately, on Canaris' commission. While we were still in
the train of the Chief of the O.K.W., Canaris expressed
serious scruples regarding the bombardment of Warsaw,
stressing the devastating repercussions on foreign policy of
such a bombardment. The Chief of the O.K.W. at that time,
Keitel, answered that these measures had been laid down
directly by the Fuehrer and Goering, and that he, Keitel,
had had no influence on these decisions. He

                                                  [Page 275]

spoke these words - I can repeat them only after having read
my notes - the Fuehrer and Goering telephoned frequently
back and forth; sometimes I heard something of what was
said, but not always.

Secondly, Canaris gave an earnest warning against the
measures which he knew about, i.e., the projected shooting
and extermination which were to be directed particularly
against the Polish intelligentsia, the nobility, the clergy,
as well as all elements that could be regarded as embodying
the national resistance movement. Canaris said at that time
- I am quoting more or less verbatim - "the world will at
some time make the armed forces under whose eyes these
events occurred also responsible for these events."

The then Chief of the O.K.W. replied - and what I am now
going to say is based on my notes, which I looked through a
few days ago - that these things had been determined by the
Fuehrer, and that the Fuehrer, the Commander in Chief of the
Army, had made it known that, should the armed forces refuse
to have any part in these things or should they not agree
with them, they would have to accept the fact that the S.S.,
the S.I.P.O. and such organisations would be simultaneously
employed to carry out these very measures. Thus, at the side
of each military commander, a corresponding civilian
official would be appointed. This, in outline, was the
subject of the discussion dealing with extermination
measures and the policy of shooting.

Q. Was anything said about a so-called political house-

A. Yes, the then Chief of the O.K.W. used an expression in
this connection which was certainly derived from Hitler, and
which characterised these measures "political
housecleaning." This expression remains very clearly in my
recollection without the aid of my notes.

Q. In order that the record may be perfectly clear, exactly
what measures did Keitel say had already been agreed upon?

A. According to the then Chief of the O.K.W., the
bombardment of Warsaw and the shooting of those categories
of people whom I characterised before, had been agreed upon

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