The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/04

Q. And what were they?

A. Foremost of all, the Polish intelligentsia, the nobility,
the clergy, and, of course, the Jews.

Q. What, if anything, was said about possible co-operation
with a Ukrainian group?

A. Canaris was ordered by the then Chief of the O.K.W., who
stated that he was transmitting a directive which he had
apparently received from Ribbentrop in connection with the
political plans of the Foreign Minister, to instigate a
resistance movement in the Galician part of the Ukraine,
which should have as its goal the extermination of Jews and

Q. At what point did Hitler and Jodl enter this meeting?

A. Hitler and Jodl entered either after what I have just
described took place, or towards the conclusion of this
discussion, and Canaris had already begun his report on the
situation in the West: that is to say, on the news that had
come in in the meantime, regarding the attitude of the
French army at the West Wall.

Q. And what further discussions took place then?

A. After this discussion in the private working carriage of
the Chief of the O.K.W., Canaris left the coach and had a
short talk with Ribbentrop, who, returning to the theme of
the Ukraine, told him once more that the uprising or the
resistance movement should be so arranged that all farms and
dwellings of the Poles should go up in flames, and all Jews
be killed.

Q. Who said that?

A. The Foreign Minister at that time, Ribbentrop, said this
to Canaris. I was standing next to him.

                                                  [Page 276]

Q. Is there any slightest doubt in your mind about that?

A. No. I have not the slightest doubt about that. I remember
with particular clarity the somewhat new formulation that
"all farms and dwellings should go up in flames" because
previously only terms like "liquidation" and "killing" had
been used.

Q. Was there any note in Canaris' diary which helped to
refresh your recollection on that point also?

A. No.

Q. What, if anything, was said on the subject of France?

A. On the subject of France a discussion took place in the
carriage of the Chief of the O.K.W. Canaris explained the
situation in the West according to reports he had received
from the "Abwehr" intelligence service. Canaris described
the situation by saying that in his opinion a great attack
was being prepared by the French in the sector of
Saarbrucken. Hitler, who had entered the room in the
meantime, intervened, took charge of the discussion and
rejected in a lively manner the opinion which Canaris had
just expressed, putting forward arguments which, looking
back now, I must recognise as factually correct.

Q. Do you recall whether, in the course of this conference,
Ribbentrop said anything about the Jews?

A. During the conversation, which was taking place in the
private conference coach of the Chief of the O.K.W.,
Ribbentrop was not present.

Q. Do you recall whether at any time in the course of the
conferences Ribbentrop said anything about the Jews?

A. In this discussion, I repeat - the one that took place in
the coach - no.

Q. For purposes of keeping the record straight, whenever you
have referred to the Chief of the O.K.W., you were referring
to Keitel?

A. Yes.

Q. Was the Wehrmacht ever asked to furnish any resistance
for the Polish campaign?

A. Yes.

Q. Did that undertaking have any special name?

A. As it is recorded in the diary of my section, the name of
this undertaking that took place just before the Polish
campaign, was given the name "Himmler."

Q. Will you explain to the Tribunal the nature of the
assistance required?

A. The matter in which I am now giving testimony is one of
the most mysterious actions which took place in the
atmosphere of the Abwehr office. Sometime, I believe it was
the middle of August - the precise date can be found in the
corresponding entry of the diary - Abwehr Section I, as well
as my section, Abwehr Section II, were charged with the job
of providing or keeping in readiness Polish uniforms and
equipment, as well as identification cards, and so on, for
the undertaking "Himmler". This request, according to an
entry in my diary made by my aide-de-camp, was received by
Canaris from the Wehrmacht Fuehrungstab or from the
"Landesverteidigung" - National Defence.

Q. Do you know whence this request originated?

A. Whence the request originated I cannot say. I can only
repeat how it reached us in the form of an order. It was, to
be sure, an order on which we, the chiefs of sections
concerned, already had some misgivings without knowing what,
in the last analysis, it was about. The name Himmler,
however, was eloquent enough. In the pertinent entries of
the diary, expression is given to the fact that I asked the
question why Mr. Himmler was to receive uniforms from us.

Q. To whom was the Polish material to be furnished by the

A. These articles of equipment had to be kept in readiness,
and one day some man from the S.S. or the S.D. - the name is
given in the official war-diary of the department - fetched

                                                  [Page 277]

Q. At what time was the Abwehr informed as to how this
Polish material was to be used?

A. The real purpose, which we do not know in its details
even to-day, was concealed from us, we did not learn it,
though at the time we had a very understandable suspicion
that something crooked was afoot, particularly because of
the name of the undertaking.

Q. Did you subsequently find out from Canaris what in fact
had happened?

A. The actual course of events was the following: When the
first war-bulletin appeared, which spoke of the attack of
Polish units on German territory, Pieckenbrock, who had the
report in his hand, and read it, observed that now we knew
what our uniforms had been needed for. the same day or a few
days later, I cannot say exactly, Canaris informed us that
people from concentration camps disguised in these uniforms
had been ordered to make a military attack on the radio
station at Gleiwitz. I cannot recall whether any other
locality was mentioned. Although we were greatly interested,
particularly General Oster, to learn details of this action,
that is, where it had occurred and what had happened in
detail - as a matter of fact we could well imagine it - we
did not know for certain, and I cannot even to-day say
exactly what happened.

Q. Did you ever find out what happened to the men from the
concentration camps that wore the Polish uniforms and
created the incident?

A. It is strange, this matter held my interest ever since,
so much so that even after the capitulation, I spoke about
these matters with an S.S. Hauptsturmfuehrer  who was
confined in the same hospital as I was, and I asked him for
details on what had taken place. The man - his name was
Burckel - told me, "It is peculiar, but even we in our
circles only found out about these matters much, much later,
and then what we did find out was only by implication. So
far as I know," he said, "all members of the S.D. who took
part in that action were presumably put out of the way; that
is to say, were killed." That is the last I heard of this

Q. Do you recall attending a meeting in 1940 at which the
name of Weygand was under discussion?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you happen to recall the particular month in which
this discussion took place?

A. The discussion took place in the winter of 1940, either
November or December, if my memory does not deceive me. I
have retained the precise date in my personal notes; in
accordance with the wish and desire of Canaris.

Q. To the best of your knowledge and recollection, who was

A. At that time, we usually met at the conference, i.e., the
three chiefs of sections and the Chief of the Ausland
Section, the former Admiral Burckner.

Q. What were you told at this meeting by Canaris?

A. In this conversation Canaris told us that for a
considerable time Keitel had put pressure on him to execute
an action leading to the elimination of the French Marshal
Weygand; and that I - that is to say, my section - would be
charged with the execution of this task, as a matter of

Q. When you say "elimination", what do you mean?

A. Killing.

Q. What was Weygand doing at this time?

A. Weygand was, so far as I recall, at that time in North

Q. What was the reason given for attempting to kill Weygand?

A. The reason given was the fear that the unbeaten part of
the French Army in North Africa might find in Weygand a
point of crystallisation for resistance. That, of course, is
only the main outline of what I still remember to-day. It
may be that there were other contributing factors.

                                                  [Page 278]

Q. After you were so informed by Canaris, what else was said
at this meeting?

A. This request, which was put to the military Abwehr openly
and without restraint by a representative of the Armed
Forces, was repudiated strongly and indignantly by all those
present. I, myself, as the person most involved, since MY
department was charged with the action, stated before all
present that I had no intention of executing this order. My
section and my officers are fighters but they are not a
murderers' organisation or murderers.

Q. What then did Canaris say?

A. Canaris said: "Calm down. We'll talk it over later on."

Q. Did you then talk it over later with Canaris?

A. After the other gentlemen had left the room, I spoke
alone with Canaris. Canaris told me immediately, "It is
obvious that this order will not only not be carried out,
but it will not even be communicated any further;" and so it

Q: Were you subsequently questioned as to whether you had
carried out this order?

A. At an audience that Canaris had with Keitel, at which I
was present, I was addressed by the then Chief of the
O.K.W., Keitel, on this subject. He asked me what had
happened or what had been undertaken so far with regard to
this matter. The date of this event is recorded in my notes,
with Canaris' knowledge and with his approval.

Q. What reply did you make to Keitel?

A. Naturally I cannot recall the precise words I spoke, but
one thing is certain; I certainly did not answer that I had
no intention of carrying out this order. I could not do
this, and did not do it; otherwise, I would not be sitting
here to-day. Probably, as in many similar cases, I gave the
answer that it was very difficult but whatever was possible
would be done, or something of that sort. Naturally, I
cannot recall my precise words.

Q. Incidentally, are you the only one of this intimate
Canaris group who is still alive to-day?

A. I believe that I am at least one of the very few.
Possibly Pieckenbrock is still alive; perhaps, Bentivigny,
who, however, did not belong to the inner circle. Most of
the others fell as a result of the events Of July 20th.

COLONEL AMEN: I have another subject to take up now. I don't
know if you want me to start in before recess.

THE PRESIDENT: We will continue until 12.45.

(Further examination of the witness by Colonel Amen.)

Q. In 1941 did you attend a conference at which General
Reinecke was present?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was General Reinecke?

A. General Reinecke was at that time Chief of the General
Army Office; that is to say, i.e., a member-office of the

Q. Do you recall the approximate date of that meeting?

A. It was roughly in the summer of 1941, shortly after the
beginning of the Russian campaign; possibly in July.

Q. To the best of your knowledge and recollection, will you
state exactly who was present at that conference?

A. At this conference, which is also recorded in the notes
taken for Canaris, in which I participated as his
representative, the following were present: General Reinecke
as the presiding officer, ObergruppenFuehrer Muller, of the
R.S.H.A., General Breuer representing the office in charge
of prisoners of war, and I, as a representative of Canaris,
i.e., "Ausland-Abwehr".

Q. Will you explain who Muller was and why he was at this

A. Muller was a Division Chief in the main office of
Reichsecurity (R.S.H.A.) and took part in the session
because he was responsible for the measures regarding the
treatment of the Russian prisoners; i.e., the executions.

                                                  [Page 279]

Q. Will you explain who Colonel Breuer was and why he was

A. Colonel Breuer was in charge of matters relating to
prisoners of war. I do not know in which precise front
Organisation detachment he worked at the time. He took care
of questions regarding prisoners of war within the O.K.W.

Q. What was the purpose of this conference?

A. The purpose of this conference was to examine the orders
received so far, regarding the treatment of prisoners of
war, and also to comment on, explain and give reasonable
grounds for these commands.

Q. Did you learn from the conversation at this conference
what the substance of these orders under discussion was?

A. Its content concerned itself essentially with two groups
of measures that were to be taken. First of all was the
killing of Russian commissars. Second was the killing of all
those elements among the Russian prisoners of war who,
according to a special segregation by the S.D., could be
identified as Bolshevists or as active representatives of
the Bolshevistic attitude toward life.

Q. Did you also learn from the conversation what the basis
for these orders were?

A. The basis for these orders was explained by General
Reinecke in its essential features as this: That the war
between Germany and Russia was not a war between two States
or two armies but between two attitudes toward the world,
namely, the National Socialist and the Bolshevistic. The Red
Army soldier was not to be looked upon as a soldier in the
ordinary sense of the word, such as our Western opponents,
but as an ideological enemy. That is, as an enemy-to-the-
death of National Socialism, and he was to be treated

Q. Did Canaris tell you why he had selected you to go to
this conference?

A. Canaris gave me two or perhaps three reasons for ordering
me to this session, although he was himself present in
Berlin. First, he wanted to avoid a personal contact with
Reinecke, whom he regarded as the prototype of the always
willing National Socialist Generals and whom he personally
considered very antipathetic. Secondly, he told me my
guiding principle was to be to attempt through factual
argument - that is to say, through appeals to reason - to
oppose this brutal and senseless order, or at least to
mitigate its evil effects as far as that might be possible.
He selected me for tactical reasons also since, as
department chief, he could by no means be as outspoken as I,
who, thanks to my subordinate position, could use much
stronger language.

Thirdly, he was well acquainted with my personal attitude,
an attitude that I manifested, wherever practical, in my
many trips to the front where I saw mistreatment of
prisoners of war. This fact is also clearly recorded in my

Q. Did Canaris and the other members of your group have a
particular name for Reinecke?

A. Not only in our group but in other places, he was called
the "small" or the "other Keitel".

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