The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/01/04

Q. Who and for what reason issued the order to occupy Ostrau
in Moravia and Witkowitz by German troops, on 14th March,
1939, in the afternoon, while President Hacha was still on
the way to Berlin for negotiations with Hitler?

A. The order was eventually decided by the Fuehrer. There
had been preparations to occupy by a coup de main that area
where the famous modern steel works were, near Maehrisch
Ostrau - I cannot remember the name now - before the

                                                   [Page 62]

date of the march into Czechoslovakia as originally set. As
a justification for that decision, Hitler had told me that
it was done in order to prevent the Poles from making a
surprise attack from the
North, and thereby perhaps taking possession of the most
modern rolling mill in the world. He gave this as the
reason, and the operation, i.e. the occupation, actually
took place in the late hours of 14th March.

Q. Yes, but during the same time President Hacha was en
route to Berlin to negotiate with Hitler?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. That was treachery.

A. I do not believe that I need to add my judgement to the
facts. It is true that the occupation was carried out on
that evening. I have given the reasons, and President Hacha
got to know it only after he arrived in Berlin.

Now I remember the name. The rolling mill was Witkowitz.

Q. I have a few more questions to ask you in connection with
the aggression against the Soviet Union. You testified to
the Tribunal yesterday on the subject. You explained your
position in regard to the attack on the Soviet Union. But
you informed the Tribunal that the decree for preparing
"Case Barbarossa" followed at the beginning of December,

A. Yes.

Q. Do you definitely remember and confirm this?

A. I do not know of, or do not remember, any specific order
by the High Command of the Armed Forces which called for the
drawing up of this plan, called Barbarossa, any earlier than
that. I explained yesterday, however, that some order had
been issued, probably in September, concerning transport and
railway facilities and similar matters. I cannot recall
whether I signed that order, but I did mention such a
preparatory order to improve transport conditions from the
West to the East.

Q. In September?

A. It may have been in September or October, but I cannot
commit myself as to the exact time.

Q. I wish to know the exact time.

A. More accurate information may probably be obtained at a
later stage from General Jodl, who would probably remember
it more clearly.

Q. Of course we shall ask him about it during the course of
his interrogation. I should like you to recall the following
facts briefly: did you first learn of Hitler's schemes to
attack the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940?

A. No. I believe you are referring to a conversation in the
summer of 1940, mentioned in Jodl's diary. I was not present
at this briefing conversation. My recollections concerning
that period make me feel certain that I was not present,
because I was on the move almost every day by aeroplane and
was not present at the discussions of the situation at that

Q. And when did your conversation with Ribbentrop take

A. That may have been during the last days of August, or
perhaps in the beginning of September, but I could not state
the exact date now. I can reconstruct the date because I
know that I did not return to Berchtesgaden until 10th
August, and that I wrote the memorandum which I mentioned
yesterday at a later date.

Q. And so you assure the Tribunal that you first heard about
Hitler's schemes to attack the Soviet Union from
conversations with Ribbentrop?

A. No, no. After having been absent from Berchtesgaden for
about two weeks - partly on leave and partly on duty in
Berlin - I returned to Headquarters at Berchtesgaden, and
then on one of the subsequent days, probably during the
middle of August, I heard for the first time ideas of that
kind from Hitler. That was the basis for my deliberation and
my memorandum.

Q. In that case, my suggestion that you first learned of
Hitler's schemes in the summer of 1940 was correct?

A. Yes. The middle of August, after all, is still summer.

Q. Further, I should like to remind you of the evidence of
the witness Paulus,

                                                   [Page 63]

which he gave here before the Tribunal, on 11th February of
this year. Paulus, as you will remember, informed the
Tribunal that when he entered the O.K.H., on 3rd September,
1940, he found, among other plans, an unfinished preliminary
operational draft of a plan for attacking the Soviet Union,
known under the name of "Barbarossa." Do you remember that
part of Paulus's testimony?

A. I only remember it in so far as he stated that it was a
draft for a manoeuvre, and that he found a document on the
occasion of his transfer to the O.K.H., the General Staff of
the Army. This is not known to me, and it could not be known
to me because the documents, files and other reports of the
General Staff of the Army were never at my disposal, and I
never had an opportunity to look at them.

Q. I therefore wish to establish one fact. Do you deny that
the O.K.W., in September, 1940, was elaborating plans in
connection with Case "Barbarossa"?

A. If we go by the testimony of Field Marshal Paulus, then I
could not say that it is not true since I cannot know
whether it actually was true. I can neither deny nor affirm

Q. You informed the Tribunal that you were opposed to the
war with the Soviet Union.

A. Yes.

Q. You also stated that you went to Hitler with the
suggestion that he should change his plans with regard to
the Soviet Union. Is that correct?

A. Yes. Not only that he should change them, but should
cancel them and conduct no war against the Soviet Union.
That was the content of my memorandum.

Q. That is precisely what I asked you. I would now like to
ask you about a conference, evidently known to you, which
was held three weeks after Germany had attacked the Soviet
Union, the conference of 16th July, 1941. Do you remember
that conference, which dealt with the plans for the conduct
of the war against the Soviet Union?

A. No, at the moment I do not know what you mean.

Q. I do not intend to submit that document to you at this
particular moment. You may remember that I submitted it to
defendant Goering, when the question of the dismemberment of
the Soviet Union arose, of the annexation of some of its
territories. Do you remember?

A. I do know that document. I believe it is marked at the
top "BO-FU,' and during my interrogation
here I have identified it as a memorandum from Reichsleiter

Q. That is correct.

A. I did so identify it. At that time I also testified that
I was called in only during the second part of the
conference, and that I had not been present during the first
part. I also testified that it was not the official minutes,
but a free summary made by Reichsleiter Bormann, dictated by

Q. But you do remember that even then, on 16th July, the
question was already being put forward, concerning the
annexation by Germany of the Crimea, the Baltic States, the
districts of the Volga, the Ukraine, Byelorussia and other

A. No, I believe that was discussed at the first part of the
conference. My recollection of the conference is from the
stage at which questions of personnel were discussed, that
is certain persons who were to be appointed. That I
remember. I have seen the document here for the first time
and did not know of it before; and I did not attend the
first half of the conference.

Q. In that case may I put the question differently: What
were the final objective pursued by Hitler and his entourage
at that time against the Soviet Union?

A. According to the explanations which Hitler had given me,
I saw a more subtle reason for this war in the fact that he
was convinced that a war would break out some way or other
in years to come between the Greater Slav Empire of

                                                   [Page 64]

Communism and the German Reich of National Socialism. The
reasons which were given to me were something like this:
Once it was believed to be certain that such a conflict
between these two nations was inevitable, then it would be
better at once than later. But I do not remember - at least
not at the moment - the questions which are in that Document
BO-FU about the dismemberment of several areas. Perhaps they
were figments of the imagination.

Q. And you tell the Tribunal under oath that you did not
know of the Hitlerite plans to seize and colonise the
territories of the Soviet Union?

A. No. That is not what I said. It is true that I believed
that the Baltic provinces should be made dependent on the
Reich, and that the Ukraine should come into a closer
relationship, as regards food supplies and economy, but
concrete plans for conquest were unknown to me and if they
were ever mentioned I never considered them to be serious
problems. That is the way I looked at it at that time. I am
not allowed to explain how I see it today, but only how I
saw it at that time.

Q. Did you know that at this conference of the 16th July
Hitler announced the necessity of blotting the city of
Leningrad from the face of the earth?

A. I do not believe that, during that conference ... I have
read that document again here. Whether it is contained in
the document I cannot remember now. But I have had this
document here in my hands; I have read it in the presence of
the American Prosecutor; and if it is stated therein then
the question of whether or not I have heard it depends
entirely on the moment at which I was called to that

Q. I do not intend to hand you the document at once, because
it has already been submitted several times. But in the
extracts previously quoted to the defendant Goering, who
read them himself, it is said: "The Leningrad region is
claimed by the Finns. The Fuehrer wants to raze Leningrad to
the ground in order to give it to the Finns after destroying

A. I can only say that it is necessary to establish from
what moment on I attended that conference. Whatever was said
before that moment I did not hear, and I can only make that
point clear if I am given the document or if one reads the
record of my preliminary interrogation. That is what I told
the interrogating officer at that time.

Q. Very well. We shall give you the minutes of the
conference of 16th July in a moment. While they are looking
for the passages required, I shall ask you a few more
questions, and by that time the passages will have been

With regard to the destruction of Leningrad, did you not
know about it from other documents?

A. I have been asked about that by the Russian Delegation
and the General who is present here in this Court. He has
called my attention to a document.

Q. That was during the preliminary investigation, is that

A. I also know the document which came from the Navy, from
an admiral, and I also know a second document which at that
time contained a short directive - I believe on the order of
Jodl - concerning Leningrad. I have been interrogated
regarding both documents. As to that I can only state that
neither through artillery operations during the siege, nor
by operations of the Air Force could the extent of
destruction be compared with that of other places we know
of. It did not materialise, we did not carry it out. It
never came to a systematic shelling of Leningrad, as far as
I know. Consequently, I can only repeat what I said then
under oath to the member of the Soviet Delegation.

Q. According to your knowledge was Leningrad never shelled?

A. Certainly artillery was used in the Leningrad area, as
elsewhere, but it never went so far as to constitute
shelling for the sole purposes of destruction.

Q. Look at this document and I shall then ask you a few
supplementary questions.

A. It is very simple. My entry is exactly after the moment
when this remark had been made. I told the American
interrogator at the time that I just heard

                                                   [Page 65]

the discussion about the appointment of Gauleiter Lohse as I
entered the room. The preceding remark I did not hear.

Q. Have you acquainted yourself with those minutes of the
report on the conference of 16th July that deal with

A. Yes.

Q. You saw that there was such an entry in the minutes of
the meeting. You arrived at the conference just as they had
finished talking about Leningrad?

A. Yes. I entered the room when they were talking about the
qualifications of Gauleiter Lohse - whether or not he was
suitable as an administrative official. These were the first
words which I heard. A debate was going on about that
subject just when I entered.

Q. It states here quite clearly: "Blot the city of Leningrad
from the face of the earth."

A. Yes, I have read that here.

Q. The same is stated in the decree, is it not?

A. Yes; but that has no connection with me. Do you mean the
order by the Navy - the order which was found with the

Q. You know that there were two decrees, one issued by the
naval command and the other by the O.K.W. - signed by Jodl.
You know that, don't you?

A. Yes, I have seen both these decrees here. They were
submitted by the Russian Delegation.

Q. And you know of a decree signed by the defendant Jodl
which also refers to the destruction of the city of Moscow.

A. That I do not remember exactly since only Leningrad was
referred to at the time when I looked at it briefly. But if
it is stated there, I will not doubt it at all.

Q. I am asking you. Did the O.K.W. issue decrees for the
purpose of having them obeyed?

A. The order or communication of the Navy is first of all
not an O.K.W. order, and how it originated is not known to
me. The short order, signed "By order of Jodl," of the
O.K.W., was not drafted in my presence, as I have. already
stated yesterday. I should have signed it, but I was absent
and therefore do not know what reasons or discussions lay
behind this order.

Q. You have not replied to my question. Were directives
issued by the O.K.W. so that they should be obeyed? Can you
reply to me briefly?

A. This is a directive but not an order, because an order
can only be given by the office of the local command of the
Army. It was therefore a directive, an aim, an intention.

Q. And were directives from the O.K.W. not meant to be
carried out?

A. Certainly they were meant to be carried out.

Q. As to your statement that no one shelled Leningrad, it
does not even call for further denial, since the destruction
of Leningrad is a well-known fact. I continue, do you know

A. May I at least say that I did not issue that order, That
is why I do not know anything about it.

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