The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Yesterday we discussed last the meeting on 21st April
between you, Hitler, and Adjutant Schmundt. I am again
having Document 388-PS brought to you and ask you to answer
the following question: Was this not a conference of the
kind which you said yesterday in principle did not take

A. To a certain extent it is true that I was called in and,
to my complete surprise, heard suggestions about
preparations for war against Czechoslovakia. This happened
in a very short interview, before one of Hitler's departures
for Berchtesgaden. I do not recall saying anything beyond
asking one question, and then, after being told of these
surprising suggestions, I went home.

Q. What happened then, so far as you were concerned?

A. My reflections during the first hour after that
conference were that this operation could not be carried out
by the Army in view of the military strength which I knew to
be ours at that time. I then comforted myself with the
thought that nothing could be planned for the immediate
future. The following day I discussed the matter with the
Chief of the Operations Staff, General Jodl. I never
received any minutes of this discussion, nor any record. The
outcome of our deliberations was "to leave things alone
because there was plenty of time, and because any such
action was, for military reasons, out of the question at
that moment.

I also explained to Jodl that the introductory words had
been: "It is not my intention to undertake aggressive action
against Czechoslovakia in the near future."

Then, in the following weeks, we started theoretical and
careful deliberations; but without consulting the various
branches of the Armed Forces, because we did not consider
that we had the authority to do so.

In the following months, as can be seen from the Schmundt
file, the army adjutants continuously asked innumerable
detailed questions regarding the strength of divisions, and
so on. These questions were answered by the Armed Forces
Operations Staff to the best of their knowledge.

Q. I believe we can shorten this considerably, Marshal,
however important your explanations are. The decisive point
now is - please take the document in front of you and
compare the draft which you finally made on orders from
Obersalzberg, and tell me what happened after that.

A. Yes. About four weeks after I had been given this job, I
sent to Obersalzberg a draft of a directive for the
preparatory measures. In reply I was informed that Hitler
himself would come to Berlin to speak with the Commander-in-
Chief. He came to Berlin at the end of May, and I was
present at the conference with General von Brauchitsch. In
this conference the basic plan was changed altogether, for
Hitler expressed the intention to take military action
against Czechoslovakia in the very near future. The reason
why he changed his mind was because Czecho-

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slovakia - I believe on 20th or 21st May - had ordered
general mobilisation, and Hitler at that time declared this
could only have been directed against us. Military
preparations had not been made by Germany.

This was the reason for the complete change of his
intentions, which he communicated orally to the Commander-in-
Chief of the Army; and he ordered him to begin preparations
at once. This explains the changes in the directive which
was then issued, in which the basic idea is expressed in the
words: "It is my irrevocable decision to take military
action against Czechoslovakia in the near future."

Q. War against Czechoslovakia was avoided as a result of the
Munich Agreement. What did you and the other generals think
of this agreement?

A. We were extremely glad that it had not come to a military
operation, because throughout the time of preparation we had
always been of the opinion that our means of attack against
the frontier fortifications of Czechoslovakia were
inadequate. From a purely military point of view we were not
strong enough to stage an attack which would involve the
piercing of the frontier fortifications; we lacked material
for such an attack. Consequently we were extremely glad that
a peaceful political solution had been reached.

Q. What effect did this agreement have on the generals,
regarding Hitler's prestige?

A. I believe I may say that it greatly increased Hitler's
prestige with them. We recognised that, on the one hand,
military means and military preparations had not been
neglected and that on the other hand a solution had been
found which we had not expected and for which we were
extremely thankful.

Q. Is it not amazing that three weeks after the Munich
Agreement which had been so welcomed by everyone, including
the generals, Hitler should have given instructions for the
occupation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia?

A. I believe that recently Marshal Goering enlarged on this
question in the course of his examination. My impression, as
I remember it, is that Hitler told me at that time that he
did not believe that Czechoslovakia would be able to
overcome the loss of the Sudeten-German territories with
their strong fortifications; and, moreover, he was concerned
about the close relations then existing between
Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, and thought that
Czechoslovakia could and perhaps would become a military and
strategic menace. These were the military reasons which were
given to me.

Q. Did no one point out to Hitler the great danger of
solving the problem of the remainder of Czechoslovakia by
force of arms - the danger that other powers, that is
England and France, would be antagonised?

A. I was not informed of the last conversation in Munich
between the British Prime Minister Chamberlain and the
Fuehrer. However, I regarded this question, as far as its
further treatment was concerned, as a political one, and
consequently I did not raise any objections, if I may so
express myself, especially as the military preparations
decided on before the Munich meeting were considerably cut
down. Whenever the political question was raised, the
Fuehrer refused to discuss it.

Q. In connection with this question of Czechoslovakia, I
should like to mention Lt.-Colonel Koechling, who was
described by the prosecution as the liaison man with
Henlein. Was the Wehrmacht or the O.K.W. engaged in this

A. Koechling's job remained unknown to me, though it was I
who nominated him. Hitler asked me if an officer was
available for a special mission, and if so he should report
to me. After I dispatched Lt.-Colonel Koechling from Berlin
I neither saw nor spoke to him again. I do know, however,
that, as I heard later, he was with Henlein as military

Q. The prosecution has pointed out that you were present at
the visit of Minister President Tiso in March, 1939, as well
as at the visit of President Hacha, and from this it was
deduced that you took part in the political discussions
which then took place. What role did you play on these

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A. It is true that on the occasion of such visits of foreign
statesmen I was nearly always present in the Reich
Chancellery or at the reception, but I never took part in
the actual discussions of political questions. I was present
at the reception and considered that I should take part in
the discussions, in my position as high ranking
representative of the Wehrmacht. But in every case that I
can recall I was dismissed with thanks and waited in the
ante-chamber in case I should be needed. I can positively
say that I did not speak a word to either Tiso or President
Hacha on that night nor did I take part in Hitler's direct
discussions with these men. May I add that on the night of
President Hacha's visit I had to be present in the Reich
Chancellery, because during that night the High Command of
the Army had to be instructed as to how the entry into
Czechoslovakia which had been prepared was to be carried

Q. In this connection I wish to confirm just one point,
since I assume this has already been made clear by Reich
Marshal Goering's testimony.

You never spoke to President Hacha of a possible bombing of
Prague, should he not see fit to sign?

A. No.

Q. We come now to the case of Poland. The prosecution
accuses you of having participated in the planning and
preparation for military action against this country too,
and of having assisted in carrying it out. Would you state
in brief your basic attitude towards these Eastern problems?

A. The question concerning the problem of Danzig and the
Corridor were known to me. I also knew that political
discussions and negotiations with regard to these questions
were pending. The case for the attack on Poland, which in
the course of time had to be and was prepared, was, of
course, closely connected with these problems. I was not
concerned with political matters, but was of the opinion
that military preparations, that is, military pressure, if I
may call it such, would play the same kind of role as, in my
opinion, it had played at Munich. I did not believe that the
matter would be brought to an end without such preparations.

Q. Could not this question have been solved by direct

A. That is hard for me to say, although I know that several
discussions took place about the Danzig question as well as
about a solution of the Corridor problem. I recall a remark
of Hitler's that impressed me at the time, when he said that
he deplored Marshal Pilsudski's death, because he believed
he had reached or could have reached an agreement with this
statesman. Hitler made this statement in my presence.

Q. The prosecution had stated that as early as the autumn of
1938, Hitler was busy with the question of a war against
Poland. Did you take any part in this?

A. No. This I cannot recall. I am inclined to believe that
there were, even then, signs that this was not the case. At
that time I accompanied Hitler on an extensive tour of
inspection of the Eastern fortifications. We covered the
entire front from Pomerania through the Oder-Warthe
Marshland as far as Breslau in order to inspect the
individual frontier fortifications against Poland. The
question of fortifications in East Prussia was thoroughly
discussed at that time. When I consider these discussions
today, I can only assume that they were possibly connected
with the Danzig and Corridor problem, and that Hitler simply
wanted to find out whether these Eastern fortifications had
sufficient defensive strength should that problem eventually
lead to war with Poland.

Q. When were the preparations made for the occupation of

A. I believe that as early as the late autumn of 1938 orders
were issued that Danzig be occupied at a favourable moment
by a surprise attack from East Prussia. That is all I know
about it.

Q. Was the possibility of war against Poland discussed in
this connection?

A. Yes, and it was apparently in this connection that the
possibilities of frontier defences were examined, but I do
not recall any kind of preparation, of military

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preparation, at that time, indeed there was none, Apart from
that against a surprise attack from East Prussia.

Q. If I remember rightly you once told me, when we discussed
this question, that Danzig was to be occupied only if this
would not lead to a war with Poland.

A. Yes, that is so. This statement was made time and again,
that this occupation of, or the surprise attack on Danzig
was only to be carried out if it was certain that it would
not lead to war.

Q. When did this view change?

A. I believe Poland's refusal to discuss any kind of
solution of the Danzig question was apparently the reason
for further deliberations and steps.

Q. The prosecution -

A. I might perhaps add that, generally speaking, after
Munich the situation in regard to the Eastern problem too
was viewed differently, possibly or, as I think, probably,
from this point of view. The problem of Czechoslovakia had
been solved satisfactorily without a shot. This would
perhaps also be possible with regard to the other German
problems in the East. I also believe I remember Hitler
saying that he did not think the Western Powers,
particularly England, would be interested in Germany's
Eastern problem, and would rather act as mediators than
raise any objections.

Q. Now this is Document C-102, the "Case Weiss." According
to this, a directive was issued on 3rd April, 1939.

A. As to this document: it begins by stating that this
directive was intended to replace the regular annual
instructions of the Armed Forces regarding possible
preparations for mobilisation - that it was a further
elaboration of details known to us from the instructions
which had been issued in 1937-8 and which were issued every
year. In fact, however, at or shortly before that time
Hitler had, in my presence, directly instructed the
Commander-in-Chief of the Army to make strategic and
operative preparations for an attack and war on Poland. I
then issued this directive, as can be seen from the
document. It states that the Fuehrer had already ordered the
following: that everything should be worked out by the
O.K.H. of the Army by 1st September, 1939, and that, after
this, a time table should be drawn up. This directive was
signed by me at that time.

Q. What was your attitude and that of the other generals
towards this war?

A. I must say that at this time, as in the case of the
preparations against Czechoslovakia, both the High Command
of the Army and the generals to whom I spoke, and I, too,
were opposed to the idea of waging a war against Poland. We
did not want this war, but, of course, we immediately began
to carry out the orders given, at least as far as the
elaboration by the General Staff was concerned. Our
justification was that the military means which to our
knowledge were at our disposal, that is to say, the
divisions, their equipment, their armament, and their
absolutely inadequate supply of munitions kept reminding us
as soldiers that we were not ready to wage a war.

Q. Do you mean to say that, in your deliberations, it was
only the military viewpoint that influenced your attitude?

A. Yes. I must admit that. I did not concern myself with the
political problems but only with the question: Can we or can
we not?

Q. Now, on 23rd May, 1939, there was a conference at which
Hitler addressed the generals. You know this address? What
was the reason for it and what did it contain?

A. I saw the notes on it for the first time in the course of
my interrogations here. It reminded me of the situation at
that time. The purpose of this address was to show the
generals that what was being done was justified; to remove
their misgivings; and finally to point out that the last
word was not yet spoken, and that political negotiations
about these matters still could and perhaps would change the
situation. The address was, in fact, intended simply to give

Q. Were you at that time of the opinion that war would
actually break out?

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A. No, at that time I believed that war would not break out,
that in view of the military preparations ordered,
negotiations would take place again and a solution be found.
Our considerations were always dominated by a military
viewpoint. We generals believed that France - and, to a
lesser extent, England, in view of her mutual assistance
pact with Poland - would intervene and that in general we
did not have the defensive means to cope with such an event.
For this very reason I personally was always convinced that
there would be no war because we could not wage a war
against Poland if France attacked us in the West.

Q. Now, what was your opinion of the situation after the
speech of 22nd August, 1939?

A. This speech, made at the end of August, was addressed to
the generals assembled at Obersalzberg, the Commanders-in-
Chief of the troops in the East. When Hitler, towards the
end of this speech, declared that a pact had been concluded
with the Soviet Union, I was firmly convinced that there
would be no war, because I believed that these conditions
constituted a basis for negotiation and that Poland would
not be recalcitrant. I also believed that now a basis for
negotiations had been found although Hitler said in this
speech, a copy of which I read here for the first time from
notes, that all preparations had been made, and that it was
intended to put them into execution.

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