The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/04

BY DR. BABEL (counsel for the S.S.):

Q. Witness, you have said in your affidavit, Document K-12,
that the S.S. at the beginning of the war became the
champions and standard-bearers of a policy of conquest and
force. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I should like
to clarify the following: What did you mean by S.S. in this

A. My answer is, that what has been read here by my counsel
was a short summary of a much longer affidavit. Should you
read the latter, you would find the answer to your question.
More precisely, it concerned the Reich S.S. Leadership

                                                   [Page 58]

(Reichsfuhrung S.S.) under Himmler and under those
functionaries within his sphere of command, the police and
S.S., who were active in the occupied territories. The
concept of the so-called General S.S. in the homeland had
nothing to do with it. I hope that makes it clear.

Q. Yes, thank you.

BY DR. BERGOLD (counsel for Bormann):

Q. Witness, the prosecution in its trial brief has charged
the defendant Bormann also with his activity in the so-
called Volkssturm. In that connection, I would like to put a
few questions to you.

Was any offensive or defensive activity planned for the
Volkssturm, when it was formed by the Fuehrer's decree of
18th October, 1944?

A. I can only say that Reichsleiter Bormann refused to give
the military authorities any advice, any co-operation and
any information on the Volkssturm.

Q. You mean to say that you knew nothing of the purpose of
the Volkssturm?

A. No, I only had the impression that it was the last
attempt of our people to defend their own homesteads.

Q. That means that the Volkssturm was not designed for any
offensive purpose within the framework of the Armed Forces?

A. No, but all officers of the Armed Forces which
encountered the Volkssturm units in their areas either
incorporated them or sent them home.

Q. Did I understand you to say that the Volkssturm was
Bormann's idea, or did it originate with Hitler?

A. I do not know that. Perhaps both.

Q. Hitler did not tell you about it either?

A. No, he only just mentioned the Volkssturm and similar
things, but military authorities had nothing to do with it.

Q. Did Bormann report on military matters to the Fuehrer,
other than the Volkssturm?

A. He has often accused the Armed Forces of all sorts of
things. From what I was told I can only assume that they
originated with Bormann. I do not know it.

BY DR. HORN (counsel for the defendant von Ribbentrop):

Q. Is it correct that the defendant von Ribbentrop, after
his return from Moscow in August, 1939, on account of the
changed foreign political situation - the guarantee pact
between England and Poland had been ratified - advised
Hitler to stop the military measures which had been set in

A. I had the impression at that time that the orders given
to me by Hitler were based upon a conversation between him
and his Foreign Minister. I was not present at that

Q. Is it correct that von Ribbentrop, just like all the
other ministers with portfolio, was not as a rule informed
about the strategic plans?

A. I can speak only for myself and for the Chief of the
Armed Forces Operational Staff. We were not authorised to
give any information, and that we never did. If the Reich
Foreign Minister was informed about such questions, that
information could have come only from Hitler himself. I
doubt whether he made an exception in this case.

Q. The prosecution has submitted a letter of 3rd April,
1940, concerning the impending occupation of Denmark and
Norway, which you sent to the then Reich Foreign Minister.
In that letter you informed him of the impending occupation
and requested him to take the necessary political steps. Had
you already before that date instructed von Ribbentrop about
the intended occupation of Norway and Denmark?

A. No, I would not have been allowed to do that, according
to the way in which the Fuehrer insisted on our working;
that letter was a somewhat unusual method of giving
information to the Reich Foreign Minister, who knew nothing
about these things. I was ordered by the Fuehrer to write to
him on the matter.

Q. In connection with the testimony by General Lahousen, I
want to ask you

                                                   [Page 59]

one question. At the time of the Polish campaign, was there
a directive or an order by Hitler to exterminate the Jews in
the Polish Ukraine?

A. I cannot recall anything like it. I only know that during
the occupation of Poland, after the initial occupation, the
problem of the Polish Jews was a very important one. In that
connection I myself once put a question to Hitler to which I
think he answered that that area was well suited for
settling the Jews. I do not know or remember anything else.

Q. At the time of the Polish Campaign, was there any plan to
instigate a revolt in the Polish Ukraine?

A. I cannot answer that question, although I have heard such
statements made here by Lahousen. I do not know or remember
anything about it.

DR. HORN: Thank you.

BY DR. BOEHM (counsel for the S.A.):

Q. Field Marshal, you were Chief of the O.K.W. and also
Chief of the Kgf., that is, prisoner-of-war affairs. Did you
ever issue orders or have orders issued on the basis of
which members of the S.A. or units of the S.A. were detailed
to guard prisoners of war or prisoner-of-war camps, or were
to be used for that purpose?

A. I cannot remember that any such directive was issued by
the O.K.W. I believe that certainly was not the case.

Q. In that respect, was a report ever made to you that any
such guard duty was performed?

A. I cannot remember, but I do not mean to deny that some
units of the Army in some particular place may have used
S.A. men temporarily to assist in guard duty. I would not
have known of this.

DR. BOEHM: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better adjourn now for ten

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will sit in open session
tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. At 12.30 it will take the
supplementary applications for witnesses and documents, and
after that at a quarter to one it will adjourn into a closed


Q. Defendant Keitel, I would like you to tell me exactly
when you received your first commission as an officer?

A. On 18th August, 1902.

Q: What military education did you receive?

A. I came into the Army as an officer candidate. Starting
simply as a private I was promoted through the various ranks
of lance-corporal, corporal and cadet to lieutenant.

Q. I asked you about your military education.

A. I was an army officer until 1909, and then for almost six
years regimental adjutant. Then during the first World War,
battery commander, and then after the spring of 1915 I
served on the General Staff.

Q. You were evidently not given a correct translation. Did
you go through Staff College or did you receive your
professional training elsewhere?

A. I never attended the war academy. Twice I participated in
so-called "greater general staff" courses as regimental
adjutant, and in the summer of 1914 I was detailed to the
greater General Staff, returning to my regiment later when
the war broke out.

Q. What military training and military rank did Hitler

A. Only a few years ago I found out from Hitler himself that
after the end of the first World War, he was a lieutenant in
a Bavarian infantry regiment. During the war he was a
private, then lance-corporal and maybe corporal during the
last period.

Q. Should we not, therefore, conclude that you, with your
reliable military

                                                   [Page 60]

training and great experience, could have had an opportunity
of influencing Hitler very considerably in solving questions
of a strategic and military nature, as well as other matters
pertaining to the Armed Forces?

A. No. I have to declare in that respect that to a degree
which is almost incomprehensible to the layman and the
professional officer, Hitler had studied general staff
publications, military literature, essays on tactics,
operations and strategy and that he had a knowledge in
military fields which can only be called amazing. May I give
an example of that, which can be confirmed by other officers
of the Armed Forces. Hitler was so well informed concerning
the organisation, armament, leadership and equipment of all
the armies, and what is more remarkable, of all the navies
of the world, that it was impossible to prove any error on
his part. I must add that even during the war, while I was
at his headquarters and in his close proximity, Hitler
studied at night all the big general staff books by Moltke,
Schlieffen and von Clausewitz, and in that way acquired his
vast knowledge. We felt that only a genius could have done

Q. You will not deny that by reason of your military
training and experience you were Hitler's adviser in a
number of highly important matters?

A. I belonged to his closest military entourage and I heard
a lot from him; but only yesterday in answer to my counsel I
pointed out that even in the simple questions, every-day
questions, concerning organisation and equipment of the
Armed Forces, I had to admit openly that I was the one who
was advised and not the adviser.

Q. When do you consider that your co-operation with Hitler

A. Exactly from the day when I was appointed Chief of the
High Command, 4th February, 1938.

Q. That means you were working together with Hitler during
the entire period of preparation for and realisation of
aggressive warfare?

A. Yes. I have given all the necessary explanations as to
how, after I took over my new post in the beginning of
February, events followed in quick succession, often very

Who, besides you, among the military leaders of the O.K.W.
and the O.K.H. had the rank of Reich Minister?

A. The rank of Reich Minister was given to the three
Commanders-in-Chief of the sections of the Armed Forces, and
among these the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, Reich
Marshal Goering, was also Reich Minister of Aviation;
similarly I received, as I said yesterday, the rank but not
the competence and qualification of a minister.

Q. Who, besides you, among the military leaders of the
O.K.H. and the O.K.W. signed decrees together with Hitler
and the other Reich ministers?

A. On the ministerial side of the Reich Government, stamps
with the signatures of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor and
the ministers immediately concerned, and, at the end, of the
Chief of the Reich Chancellery, were utilised. This did not
hold good on the military side for, according to the
traditions of the German Army and the Armed Forces the
signatures were given by the experts who had worked on the
matter, by the Chief of Staff or by whoever had given or at
least drafted the order, and an initial was added on the

Q. You said yesterday that you signed such decrees together
with other ministers of the Reich.

A. Yes, yesterday I mentioned individual decrees and also
gave the reasons why I signed them, and I pointed out that,
in so doing, I was not a Reich Minister and did not have the
functions of a minister in office.

Q. What organization fulfilled the functions of the War
Ministry from February, 1938 on?

A. Until the last days of January, or the first days of
February, it was the former Reich Minister for War, von
Blomberg. From 4th February, 1938, there was neither a
Minister for War nor a War Ministry.

                                                   [Page 61]

Q. That is precisely why I asked you what government
organisation had replaced the War Ministry and fulfilled its
functions, since I knew that this Ministry did not exist.

A. I myself with the former Staff of the War Ministry whose
chief I was, continued its work and delegated it, as I
described in detail yesterday, that is, I transferred all
supreme rights to the Commanders-in-Chief of the branches of
the Armed Forces. But this was not an order of mine but an
order of Hitler's.

Q. From the evidence you have submitted to the Tribunal it
would appear that the O.K.W. was the central, connecting and
supreme military link in the chain of the Reich and that it
was directly under Hitler's control. Would this conclusion
be correct?

A. Yes, that was the military staff of Hitler.

Q. Who, in the O.K.W., directly supervised the drafting of
military and strategic plans? I am referring specifically to
the plans for the attacks on Austria, Czechoslovakia,
Poland, Belgium, Holland, France, Norway, Yugoslavia and the
Soviet Union.

A. I think that yesterday I stated that very precisely,
saying that the operational and strategic planning, after an
order had been given by Hitler, was prepared and then
submitted to Hitler by the Commanders-in-Chief of the
branches of the Armed Forces; that is to say, for the Army,
by the High Command of the Army and the General Staff of the
Army, and then further decisions were made with respect to

Q. With regard to Yugoslavia I should like to ask you the
following question. Do you admit that a directive issued
under your signature, for the preliminary partition of
Yugoslavia, is - per se - a document of great political and
international importance, providing for the factual
abolition of Yugoslavia as a sovereign State?

A. I did nothing more, or less, than write down a decree of
the Fuehrer, and forward it to those offices which were
interested and concerned. I had no personal or political
influence whatsoever in these questions.

Q. Even under your own signature?

A. For the signatures which I have written I gave an
explanation yesterday, which exhausts the subject as to how
they came about and what their significance is.

Q. Yes, we did talk about it, we did hear about it and I
shall ask some more questions on the subject later on. I
should now like to determine, with greater precision, your
own position in the question of Yugoslavia. Do you agree
that you, with the direct participation of the O.K.W.,
organised acts of provocation in order to find a pretext for
aggression against Yugoslavia and a justification for this
aggression in the eyes of the world?

A. I have this morning, in response to questions of the
counsel of another defendant, answered clearly that I did
not participate in any preparation of an incident, neither
did Hitler wish that any military offices should ever
participate in the discussion, preparation, deliberation, or
the execution of incidents. I use "incident" here in the
sense of provocation.

Q. Undoubtedly. What part did the O.K.W. take to ensure the
arming of the Free Corps in the Sudetenland?

A. General, which Free Corps? I do not know which Free Corps
you refer to.

Q. The Free Corps of the Sudetenland.

A. I am not informed as to whether any military office had
illicitly - if I may say so - or secretly sent arms there. I
have no knowledge concerning that. An order to that effect
was not given, or at any rate did not pass through my hands.

I cannot remember it.

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