The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. THOMA: Mr, President, may I make a remark in this
connection? I have already limited my selection. This
memorandum comprises a whole thick notebook; however, I will
try to be still more brief, and want only to, emphasise that
on every page you will find one complaint about the
conscientiousness with which Rosenberg followed up all these
individual complaints. But I will be very brief.

  "It is not necessary that your Ministry stress, as it
  does by many written and oral messages over and over
  again that any violence in recruiting of workers has to
  be discontinued."

And then there is one further very brief remark:-

  "And if I issue more decrees against floggings I will
  make myself ridiculous."

                                                   [Page 32]

And now we came to something very important, your Honours,
namely, how Gauleiter Koch threatens representations to the
Fuehrer, and says:-

  "Nobody has ever asked me, as a former Gauleiter, to
  submit to him articles I write, for no one other than the
  Fuehrer can ever absolve me of the political
  responsibility that I have for an article signed with my
  full name.
  Finally, in addition to these statements on my
  responsibility I should like to allude again to the
  relations between the Fuehrer and the Reich
  Commissioners. As an old Gauleiter I am accustomed to go
  to my Fuehrer directly with all my problems and requests,
  and this right in my capacity as Ober-president has never
  been denied me even by my superior minister. By decree I
  6-b 4702, I was ordered to report to you on matters where
  the Fuehrer's wishes were to be consulted, as the
  forwarding of the Fuehrer's communications were your
  affair exclusively. I must state here that in my position
  as an old Gauleiter the Fuehrer has repeatedly given me
  his political directives.
  If one takes away or curtails the position of the Reich
  Commissioners in relation to the Fuehrer, then very
  little remains in keeping with the position of a Reich

On Page 50 he says:-

  "I have to state expressly that I must under these
  circumstances lay down my responsibility for the success
  of the labour recruiting and the Spring planting, as
  Rosenberg has ordered us to introduce a more amiable
  recruiting system."

At the end he says:-

  "My position has been encroached upon by you so often in
  the last three weeks that it can only be re-established
  by the Fuehrer."

Thereupon a conflict developed in Hitler's presence at the
Reich Chancellery between Rosenberg, Bormann and Koch, and
the result was that Bormann and, in the main, Koch, were
upheld and the defendant Rosenberg was notified to limit
himself to essentials only.

On the strength of that the defendant submitted his


Q. Now, I ask the defendant to go into this in more detail.
It is in Document Book 2, Page 27.

A. I would like to remark

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Thoma, I think we had better adjourn now
for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)


Q. Witness, some days ago this document was mentioned and it
shows clearly that the first district of Zuman was to be the
hunting district for the Reich Commissioner, and that
hundreds of people would be shot, because resettling them
would be too complicated and take too long a time. Will you
make a statement about that?

A. As time went by I received many statements regarding
instances of acts of violence committed in the East. Upon
investigating, it was very often found that these reports
did not conform with facts. In this case this report
appeared to me so credible that I made it the subject of a
report to the Fuehrer directly as I was having trouble with
Gauleiter Koch.

Apart from other questions, such as those referring to
schools in the Ukraine, the establishment of technical
schools, and certain personal statements of Koch which I
submitted as a complaint, I also submitted this report.

When he reported to the Fuehrer, Reich Commissioner Koch
submitted a statement on the Forest Administration of the
Ukraine. From this it appeared that these forest districts
had to be used for supplying timber for railway con-

                                                   [Page 33]

struction and other purposes. And since various guerrilla
units and partisans had trained in these woods, and such a
task, in consideration of the obscure situation, was
extremely dangerous, it was established that Koch - not in
the interest of the hunting, but for this reason-had ordered
a cleaning up of this district; and in the course of this
cleaning up a considerable number of partisans had been
found and they had been shot. The remaining population from
these forest districts had been resettled, and, Koch added,
a number of these resettled persons had even expressed
gratitude for the fact that they had received a better soil
to work than they had had in these forest areas. On
receiving these reports from Koch the Fuehrer shrugged his
shoulders and said, "It is difficult for me to decide. I
have the statement of the Forest Administration for the
Ukraine and I must accept that. I leave the matter alone and
the other decisions regarding Ukrainian policy will be sent
to you."

This happened in July in the shape of a decree which is also
in my files, but which, unfortunately, has not been found.
It is a decree about which the witness Lammers has spoken
and which states that the Reich Minister should confine
himself to basic matters, should submit his instructions to
the Reich Commissioner for his opinion and, in the event of
disagreement, the decision of the Fuehrer must be secured.

After this decree of the Fuehrer, I made a renewed attempt
to represent the views which I considered right. But, of
course, I will not deny that on several occasions, due to
pressure from the Fuehrer's headquarters, I became a little
weary. And when it was said, and said in clear-cut terms,
that I was apparently more interested in these Eastern
peoples than in the welfare of the German nation, I made
some appeasing statements; but my decrees and my further
carrying out of instructions continued in the old way. As I
have now been able to check, I reported to the Fuehrer
personally on eight different occasions in this matter, and
I submitted written petitions and formulated my decrees with
the aim of forwarding the policy I advocated.

When, however, in 1944, the Reichsfuehrer S.S., too,
occupied himself not only with police affairs, but also with
the policy in the Eastern Territories; and as I had not been
able any longer to report to the Fuehrer's headquarters
since the middle of November, 1943, I tried one last time to
make a suggestion to the Fuehrer regarding a generous
Eastern policy. At the same time, I asked very clearly, in
the event of a refusal, to be relieved from any further
work. This document is a letter to Dr. Lammers of 12
October, 1944, at the beginning of which it says that, in
the face of current developments in the Eastern problem, I
was asking that he should submit the accompanying letter to
the Fuehrer personally. I said that I considered the way and
manner in which the German policy in the East was being
handled as very unfortunate; that while I had not been
included in the negotiations, nevertheless I was made
responsible for them. Therefore I was asking him to submit
my letter to the Fuehrer as soon as possible for his

Dr. Lammers then immediately transmitted this letter to the
Fuehrer's secretary, Bormann. In the direct letter to the
Fuehrer it says on Page 2:

  "For observation and direction of this development I have
  created regional offices for all the Eastern peoples in
  the Ministry for Eastern Affairs, which can now, after
  many tests, be regarded as suitable for their purposes
  and well set up. They also contain representatives from
  the various regions and races; and if it seems in the
  interest of German policies, they may be recognised as a
  special national committee."

These central offices mentioned here had the task of seeing
to it that the representatives of all Eastern peoples
received the complaints of their countrymen who were in
sovereign German territory and presented them to the Eastern
Ministry, which in turn would have these complaints worked
out with the

                                                   [Page 34]

German Labour Front authorities or the Plenipotentiary for
Employment of

On Page 5 it says then:-

  "I have informed the Reich Minister and the Chief of the
  Reich Chancellery what the Eastern Ministry has done in
  the sphere of political leadership in a letter dated 28
  May, 1944, and I am asking you, my Fuehrer, to have the
  contents read to you."

This is a reference to a further statement.

On Page 6 it states:-

  "I am asking you, my Fuehrer, to tell me whether you
  still desire my activity in this field, for since it has
  not been possible for me to report to you orally, and the
  problems of the East are brought to you and discussed
  from various sides, I must, in consideration of this,
  development, assume that you do not regard this activity
  of mine as necessary.
  In addition rumours are spread, by sources unknown to me,
  of the dissolution of the Eastern Ministry; in fact it is
  said that these rumours are used in official
  correspondence to the highest Reich authorities because
  of various demands which have been made. Under such
  circumstances fitting work is not possible, and I ask you
  to give me directives as to how I should act in view of
  the state of affairs which has developed."

In the middle of the next paragraph I point out the
following, from ideas that I voiced first in my speech of 20
June, and in my protest during the meeting of 16 June.

  "This plan provided that in order to mobilise all the
  national forces of the Eastern peoples, the promise
  should be made to them in advance of a certain autonomy
  and the possibility of cultural development, with the aim
  of leading them against the Bolshevist enemy. This plan,
  which in the beginning I ventured to assume you approved
  of, has not been carried out, because the peoples were
  treated in a way which was politically opposite to this.
  Solely because of the agrarian order of 1942, approved by
  you, giving them a certain hope of acquiring property,
  has their willingness to work been maintained to the

Attached to this letter to the Fuehrer there is the
suggestion for the adjustment of the Eastern policy, which
is reiterated for the last time. And in paragraph 2 in the
middle of Page 2 it says that these regional offices and
service offices for the peoples of the East, attached to the
Eastern Minister, are, in the name of the Reich Government,
to be recognised by him as national committees at a time to
be fixed by the Fuehrer. The term "National Committee" is to
be understood by the Reich Government to mean that the
authorised members can represent their peoples.

On Page 2 in the middle, it says:-

  "In the leadership of the peoples of the East - "

THE PRESIDENT: Is the Tribunal interested in all this
detail? The substance of it has been given by the witness,
has it not? He summarised the whole letter before he began
to read any of it. There is nothing new up to now.

DR. THOMA: Mr. President, the defendant wanted to summarise
again briefly what his ideas were for the Ukraine, namely,
autonomy, free cultural development; and that was the core
of his difference with Koch, who advocated a policy of
exploitation; therefore the defendant wanted to say once
more what his whole plan was and his conception regarding
the Soviet Union.

But this topic can now be dropped.

Before I turn to the question of the reconstruction work in
the Ukraine I wish the defendant to make a statement on the
subject of the treatment of prisoners of war. Document 081.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it anywhere in your books? Is it 081-PS?

                                                   [Page 35]

DR. THOMA: It has been submitted under a USSR exhibit


Q. Have you got it, defendant?

A. It is Exhibit USSR-353.

Fairly near the beginning of the activity of the Eastern
Ministry, complaints regarding treatment of prisoners of war
were received, particularly during the winter 1941-1942.
These complaints, which were made by travellers, officers or
soldiers, were reported to me by my political department. We
then passed these complaints on to the military offices
concerned with a request that, for obvious reasons, they
should be given consideration.

These complaints were received frequently, and my staff, as
time went on, stated to me that they met a great deal of
understanding for our requests, particularly for the wish
expressed by us that prisoners in the large number of Soviet
prisoner-of-war camps should be selected according to their
nationality and taken to small camps, because, through this
national segregation, good political and humane treatment
would be best guaranteed. Regarding the numerous complaints
of the death of many thousands of Soviet prisoners, more
than once I received the report that, during battles of
encirclement, units of the Red Army had defended themselves
in the hardiest way and had not surrendered. In fact they
were completely exhausted from hunger when they finally were
captured by the Germans. Even numerous cases of cannibalism
had been established, demonstrating their stubborn wish not
to surrender in any event.

The third complaint I received was to the effect that
political commissars were shot. This complaint too was
passed on by us. That an order existed in this connection
was unknown to me. We concluded from other reports that such
shootings were political or police reprisals since we heard
that many German prisoners who had been liberated were later
found dead or crippled. Later on I was informed that such
shootings were prohibited, and thus we assumed that the
political commissars were members of the regular Red Army.

Now here is Document 081-PS. It has been stated by the
prosecution that this is a letter from the Minister for
Eastern Affairs to the Chief of the O.K.W. The document was
also found in my files. But it is not a letter from me to
the Chief of the O.K.W., Keitel; on the contrary, it was
obviously deposited in my office by the sender. In the left-
hand top corner on Page 1, it can be seen that there is a
figure "1." That means Department 1. In the case of letters
originating from me such a reference would always be absent,
since I was not a department of my own office. Furthermore,
letters of mine to the Chief of the O.K.W. were always of a
personal character, either beginning with the name of the
addressee, or a personal address. Chief of the O.K.W. is the
office. In the same way the ordinary address, "Reich
Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories," would not be
a personal letter to me, but would mean the office.

I will not go into these details, but I will take the
liberty of reading one final paragraph in this connection
which, I may also state, is in keeping with the spirit which
I endeavoured to instil in my collaborators. And likewise,
they thought that they ought to act and express themselves
in this spirit. It states on Page 5:-

  "The main demand..."

THE PRESIDENT: (Interposing) What is the date?

A. (Continuing) The letter is dated 28 February, 1942. That
is to say, it was in the winter, in that dreadful cold
period. On Page 5 it states:-

  "The main demand will have to be that the treatment of
  prisoners of war be carried out in accordance with the
  laws of humanity and as befits the dignity of Germany.
  It is understandable that the numerous cases of inhuman
  treatment of German prisoners of war by members of the
  Red Army, which have been

                                                   [Page 36]

  established, have so embittered the German troops that
  they wish to make
  Such reprisal measures, however, in no way improve the
  situation for German prisoners of war but must result
  finally in both sides no longer taking any prisoners."

I merely wanted to quote this letter because I have no other
documents dealing with the activity of my political
department at my disposal, and this is only an example of
its work, and one which, I think, gives some indication of
the spirit and policy.

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