The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. And is that correct; is that true?

A. There are a few things in it that are not entirely
correct. For instance, on the first page there is ...

Q. Let me take it then. I will read it to you and see how
far it is correct:

  "I was in charge of the General Division (Abteilung
  Allgemein) when the shooting of the escaped R.A.F.
  prisoners of war from Stalag Luft 3 took place."

That is correct, is it not?

A. Here the phrase is missing, "When the shooting took

Q. Now:

  "It was the first occasion on which Field Marshal Keitel
  had sent for me. I went with General von Gravenitz. He
  had been sent for, and I had to accompany him."

Is that right?

A. Yes.

  Q. "A certain number of officers had escaped from the
  Sagan camp. I can't remember how many, but I believe
  about 80."

That is correct, too?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, the next sentence:

  "When we entered, the Field Marshal was very excited and
  nervous and said, 'Gentlemen, this is a bad business.'"

Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Then

  "We were always blamed. whenever prisoners of war
  escaped. We could not tie them to our apron strings."

That is your own comment. Then you go on as to what the
Field Marshal said:

  "This morning Goering reproached me in the presence of
  Himmler for having let some more prisoners of war escape.
  It was unheard of."

You go on with your comment that then they must have had a
row because the camp did not come under us because it was a
German Air Force camp. Is that correct - that the Field
Marshal said:

  "This morning Goering reproached me in the presence of
  Himmler for having let some more prisoners of war

A. Not in Himmler's presence, but in Hitler's presence.
Hitler's presence.

Q. It ought to be in Hitler's presence?

A. Yes.

                                                  [Page 194]

Q. Now, the next sentence:

  "All German Air Force camps came directly under the
  German Air Force itself, but the Inspector of Prisoner-of-
  War Camps was in charge of inspections of all camps. I
  was not yet an inspector at that time."

We have had all that explained. I do not think that there is
any dispute about the organisation. I won't trouble you
about that. We have gone into that in this Court in some
detail. Unless the Tribunal wants it, I did not intend to
trouble this witness again. You say:

  "I was not Inspector yet. General von Gravenitz was
  Inspector, and all camps came under him in matters
  concerning the carrying out of inspections."

Then you say:

  "Goering blamed Keitel for having let those men escape.
  These constant escapes make a bad impression. Then
  Himmler interfered. I can only say what the Field Marshal
  told us, and he complained that he had to provide another
  60,000 to 70,000 men as Rural Guards (Landwache)," etc.

Is that right? Did the Field Marshal say that?

A. Yes.

Now, the second paragraph:

  "Field Marshal Keitel said to us, 'Gentlemen, these
  escapes must stop. We must set an example. We shall take
  very severe measures. I can only tell you that the men
  who have escaped will be shot. Probably the majority of
  them are dead already.' Keitel said that to us at the

Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Then you say:

  "We were amazed at this conception which we had never
  heard of before. The affair must have happened in March.
  We were sent to the Field Marshal in Berlin a few days
  after the escape, not in regard to this affair but for
  some other business. We knew that the prisoners of war
  had escaped, and we were taken by surprise by that
  declaration during the conference."

Then you go on again with your account of the conference.

  "General von Gravenitz objected at once and said, 'But,
  Sir, that's out of the question. Escape is not a
  dishonourable offence. That is specially laid down in the
  Geneva Convention.'"

Is that correct, that General von Gravenitz said these

A. General von Gravenitz made objections and referred to the
Geneva Convention, but there is missing in this report the
fact that the Field Marshal said to General von Gravenitz
that this was a matter of a Fuehrer decree. That is missing

Q. Well, if you look at the next sentence that I was going
to read to you, you say:

  "He" - that is, General von Gravenitz - "raised these
  objections, whereupon Keitel said, 'I don't care a damn;
  we discussed it in the Fuehrer's presence and it cannot
  be altered.'"

Is that correct?

A. No. The Field Marshal said, "That is a matter of
indifference to me."

I think it would be easier, General, if you told the
Tribunal now, to the best of your recollection, what the
Field Marshal did say after General von Gravenitz had made
his objections.

                                                  [Page 195]

A. I have deposed a sworn statement to the Court on that
subject, which I might perhaps read:

  "Regarding the presence of General von Gravenitz and
  myself at the headquarters in March of 1944, Field
  Marshal Keitel ..."

Q. General Westhoff, the Tribunal may want that later. It
would be easier if you would try to stick to this statement
for the moment, whether it is right or wrong, and then we
will deal with any other one later on. It is just this
point, if you could direct your mind to it.

After General von Gravenitz had made his objection, as you
have told us, on the ground of the Convention, what did the
Field Marshal say? What did he say at that point?

If you would just try and do that, it would be a great help
to us all.

A. The Field Marshal then said:

  "It is now a matter of indifference; we must set an

Q. I thought you said that. Did he mention that there was a
Fuehrer decree to that effect, or a Fuehrer order, or
something of that sort. Did he mention that?

A. That he had already said at the very beginning, that this
was a matter of a Fuehrer decree.

Q. In the next paragraph you point out, in this statement -
and I think it is only fair to yourself to read it - it is
the second sentence:

  "But in this case none of our men" - that is, the men of
  the Wehrmacht - "had shot any of the prisoners of war. I
  made inquiries at once."

Then you say:

  "None of them had been shot by a soldier, but by Gestapo
  men only or else police guards. That proves that probably
  Himmler made the suggestion to the Fuehrer, although I
  don't know how they arranged it. However, it should be
  possible to find that out from Goering who was present at
  the conference. Naturally, I don't know."

Do you remember making these answers?

A. Yes.

Q. Then, you say again:

   "At any rate, it is clear that none of our men shot
   prisoners of war, they must all have been shot by

And you point out, in the last sentence:

  "But in this particular case only those caught by our
  people were brought back to the camp - that is, those
  caught by soldiers."

Now, in the next paragraph you say that you had no authority
to give the police orders, and you repeat that the members
of the Wehrmacht did not shoot any of them. And then in the
third sentence you say:

  "I had a report sent to me at once, and told General von
  Gravenitz, 'Sir, the only thing we can do is to see that
  no foul business is carried out as long as we are in

Is that right? Does that correctly describe what you did,

A. Yes.

Q. Now you go on to say, a sentence or two later, that you
were faced with a fait accompli, and then you say - after
repeating General von Gravenitz' protests to Field Marshal
Keitel, when he had said:

  "That is quite impossible, we can't shoot any people" -
  "How the shooting

                                                  [Page 196]

  was carried out I heard from the representative of the
  Protecting Power, Herr Naville, of Switzerland."

Is that right?

A. No.

Q. How did you hear of the shooting?

A. I went to the Gestapo to obtain the particulars of the
shootings for the Foreign Office, but I did not receive
them. The representative of Switzerland, Herr Naville, whom
I had sent to the camp, on his return visited me, and it was
from him that I heard all that I ever heard about this
matter, namely, that apparently a prisoner of war, who had
returned to the camp, had seen the escaped airmen, heavily
chained and strongly guarded, driven out of the Goerlitzer
Prison on a truck. That is the only thing I learned about
this affair at all, and I have up to now not found out in
what way these airmen were killed. The Gestapo refused to
inform me of this.

Q. But it is correct that generally what information you did
receive you received from the representative of the
Protecting Power. I don't know if you remember whether his
name was Naville or not. But it is right, isn't it?

A. I didn't understand the question.

Q. What information you did receive - you tell us that it
was very little - you received from the representative of
Switzerland, of the Protecting Power. Is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Well now, I want to deal with the next bit in the
statement where you tried to get in touch with the Foreign
Office, and if you look down the paragraph you will see that
you say:

  "At any rate, we did not get any news, and so it was
  pointed out to the Field Marshal that such a state of
  affairs was impossible, that we had to get in
  communication with the Foreign Office. Then he
  emphatically stated that it was forbidden to get in touch
  with the Foreign Office."

Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. I will read on, two sentences:

  "Then the affair was raised in the House of Commons in
  England, and then a note was sent by our side. I was,
  quite unexpectedly, called up by Admiral Buerkner of the
  Foreign Section of the O.K.W. He called me up by
  telephone at night and said: 'The Field Marshal has given
  me orders to prepare an answer for England immediately.
  What is it all about? I don't know anything about the
  case.' I said: 'Herr Admiral, I am sorry, General von
  Gravenitz received strict orders not to talk to anyone
  about it.' Nothing was allowed, to be put down in writing
  either. Apart from that, we ourselves were faced with an
  accomplished fact. This order was apparently issued by
  Himmler and the position was such that we could do
  nothing more at all about it."

Is that a correct account?

A. Here again the word "Himmler" stands where the word
"Hitler" should stand.

Q. That should be Hitler. Apart from that, that is correct?
I mean,, in substance, is that a correct account of the
conversation between Admiral Buerkner and yourself?

A. Yes.

Q. You then go on to say that Admiral Buerkner wanted you to
tell him about the affair, that you only knew what the
gentleman from Switzerland had told you, and that you had
made various attempts to approach the Gestapo.

                                                  [Page 197]

And then, if you look at just before the end of that

   "Then the Foreign Office itself stepped into the picture
   and took charge of this affair. Later one of my men,
   Oberstleutnant Krafft, went to Berchtesgaden while I was
   away. At that time a note to England was to be prepared.
   Then when we read this note in the English newspaper we
   were all absolutely taken aback. We all clutched our
   heads, mad. We could do nothing against it."

Is that correct? Did you say that, and is that correct?

A. The matter was then turned over to the Foreign Office,
and the Foreign Office was charged with drawing up a note to
England. At this discussion Lieutenant-Colonel Kraft was,
apparently, called in as a specialist for the Sagan case, to
clarify any doubts if any were still held. However,
Lieutenant-Colonel Kraft was in no way concerned with the
drawing up of the note; that was purely a matter for the
Foreign Office. The Foreign Office had only called him in so
that, if there were still any doubts about the matter, they
could be clarified on the spot.

Q. Now, General, the next part of the statement I did not
intend to read unless the Tribunal wanted it, because you
are making quite clear that in your opinion the General
Inspector, General Roettig, had nothing to do with the
affair at all. And if you accept it from me that that is the
substance of the next two paragraphs, I won't trouble you
with it in detail. You are making clear that General Roettig
had nothing to do with it. Is that right?

A. No.

Q. Well, I am sorry. If you will look at the first sentence
- I thought it represented it fairly. Look at the first

   "General Inspector Roettig had nothing to do with it,
   nothing at all. He did not have any hand in the affair.
   He was completely excluded from it by the fact that
   these matters were taken out of his hands, apparently at
   that conference with the Fuehrer in the morning - that
   is to say, the conference between Himmler, Field Marshal
   Keitel and Goering, which took place in the Fuehrer's

Is that right? I only wanted to put it shortly, that you
were trying to, and quite rightly, if it is true, to give
your view that General Roettig had nothing to do with it. Is
that right; that is, that sentence I read to you?

Did you say "yes"?

A. The General Inspector was responsible for measures to
prevent escape, but had nothing to do with this matter.

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