The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-17/tgmwc-17-160.03

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-17/tgmwc-17-160.03
Last-Modified: 2000/07/05

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I am told that I am wrong about that,
and that it is new. 892 is a new number.


Q. Leaving the part of your personal participation in this
programme -

THE PRESIDENT: Could you tell us what the document is and
where it comes from? I see it is 60-EC; so it must be
captured. But ...

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: It is one of the economic documents. It
is a very large document.

THE PRESIDENT: Could you tell us what it is or who signed
it? It is a very long document, apparently, is it?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: It is a long document, and it is a
report of the Oberfeldkommandant L-I-L-L-E is the name of
the signer.


Q. Now, coming to the question -

THE PRESIDENT: Let me look at the document, will you?

You see, Mr. Justice Jackson, my attention has been drawn to
the point that as far as the record is concerned, we have
only this extract which you read. We have not got the date,
and we do not have the signature, if any, on the document.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I was merely refreshing his
recollection to get out the facts, and I was not really
offering the document for its own sake. I will go into more
detail about it, if your Honour wishes. There is a great
deal of irrelevant material in it.

THE PRESIDENT: If you do not want to offer it, then we need
not bother about it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: A great part of it is not relevant.


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The quotation is adequately verified.

THE PRESIDENT: In that case, you may refer to it without the
document being used. Then we need not have the document
identified as an exhibit.


Q. Leaving the questions of your personal participation in
these matters and coming to the questions dealt with in the
second part of your examination, I want to ask you about
your testimony concerning the proposal to denounce the
Geneva Convention.

                                                   [Page 54]

You testified yesterday that it was proposed to withdraw
from the Geneva Convention. Will you tell us who made the

A. This proposal, as I already testified yesterday, came
from Dr. Goebbels.

It was made after the air attack on Dresden, but before
this, from the autumn of 1944 on, Goebbels and Ley had often
had conversations to the effect that the war effort should
be increased in every possible way, so that I had the
impression Goebbels was merely using the attack on Dresden,
and the excitement it created, as an excuse to renounce the
Geneva Convention.

Q. Now, was the proposal at that time to resort to poison
gas warfare, was the proposal made at that time?

A. I was not able to make out from my own direct
observations whether gas warfare was to be started, but I
knew from various associates of Ley and Goebbels that they
were discussing the question of using our two new combat
gases, Tabun and Sarin. They believed that these two gases
would be of particular efficacy and they did in fact produce
the most frightful results. We made these observations as
early as the autumn of 1944, when the situation had become
critical, and many people were seriously worried about it.

Q. Now, will you tell us about these two gases and about
their production and their effects, their qualities, and the
preparations that were made for gas warfare?

A. I cannot tell you that in detail. I am not enough of an
expert. All I know is that both these gases had a quite
extraordinary effect, and that there was no protection
against them that we knew of either by respirator or other
means, so that the soldiers would have been unable to
protect themselves against this gas in any way. For the
manufacture of these gases we had about three factories, all
of which were undamaged and which, until November, 1944,
were working at full capacity. When rumours reached us that
gas might be used, I stopped its production in November,
1944. I stopped it by the following means. I blocked the
so-called preliminary production, that is the chemical
supplies for the making of gas. So that the gas-production,
as the Allied authorities themselves ascertained, after the
end of December or the beginning of January, actually did
run down and finally came to a standstill. First of all,
with the letter you have that I wrote to Hitler in October,
1944, I tried to obtain his permission for these gas
factories to stop their production. The reason I gave him
was that for air raids the preliminary products, mostly
Zian, were needed urgently for other purposes. Hitler
informed me that the gas production would have to continue
whatever happened, but I gave instructions for the
preliminary products not to be supplied any more.

Q. Can you identify others of the group who were advocating
gas warfare?

A. In military circles there was certainly no one in favour
of gas warfare. All the sensible army people opposed gas
warfare as being utterly insane, for, in view of the enemy's
superiority in the air, it would not have been long before
it brought the most terrible retribution upon German cities
which were completely unprotected.

Q. The group that did advocate it, however, consisted of the
politicians most intimate with Hitler, did it not?

A. A certain circle of political people, very limited in
number. It was mostly Ley, Goebbels and Bormann, always the
same three, who by every possible means wanted to increase
the war effort, and a man like Fegelein certainly belonged
to a group like that, too. Of Himmler I would not be too
sure for, at that time, Himmler was a little out of favour
with Hitler because he indulged himself in the luxury of
running an army group, although he knew nothing about such a

Q. Now, one of these gases was the gas which you proposed to
use on those who were proposing to use it on others, and I
suppose your motive was -

A. I must say quite frankly that my reason for this plan was
the fear that under certain circumstances gas might be used,
and the thought that we might get the idea of using it
ourselves led me to make the whole plan.

                                                   [Page 55]

Q. And your reasons, I take it, were the same as those of
the military, that is to say, it was certain Germany would
get the worst of it if Germany started that kind of warfare.
That is what was worrying the military, was it not?

A. No, not only that. It was because at that stage of the
war it was perfectly clear that under no circumstances
should any international crimes be committed which could be
held against the German people after they had lost the war.
That was what decided the matter.

Q. Now, what about the bombs, after the war was obviously
lost, aimed at England day after day; who favoured that?

A. You mean the rockets?

Q. Yes.

A. From the point of view of their technical production, the
rockets were a very expensive affair for us, and their
effect, compared to the cost of their output, was
negligible. In consequence we had no particular interest in
developing their production. The person who kept urging it
was Himmler. He gave Obergruppenfuehrer Tammler the task of
firing off these rockets over England. In army circles they
were of the same opinion as I, namely, that the rockets were
too expensive; and in air force circles, the opinion was the
same, because with the outlay for one rocket one could build
a fighter plane. It is quite clear that it would have been
much better for us if we had not gone in for this nonsense.

Q. Going back to the characteristics of this gas, was one of
the characteristics of this gas an exceedingly high
temperature? When it was exploded it created exceedingly
high temperature so that there could be no defence against

A. No, that is an error. Actually, ordinary gas evaporates
at a normal atmospheric temperature. This gas would not
evaporate until very high temperatures were reached and such
very high temperatures could only be produced by an
explosion; in other words; if the explosives detonated a
very high temperature was set up and the gas evaporated. The
solid substance turned into gas but the effects had nothing
to do with the high temperature.

Q. Experiments were carried out with this gas, were they
not, to your knowledge?

A. That I cannot tell you. Experiments must certainly have
been carried out with it.

Q. Who was in charge of the experiments with the gases?

A. As far as I know it was the research and development
department of the OKH in the Army Ordnance Office. I cannot
tell you for certain.

Q. And certain experiments were also conducted and certain
researches made with regard to atomic energy, were they not?

A. We had not got as far as that, unfortunately, because the
finest experts we had in atomic research had emigrated to
America, and this had thrown us back a great deal in our
research, so that we still needed another one to two years
in order to achieve any results in the splitting of the

Q. The policy of driving people out who did not agree with
the German Government had not produced very good dividends,
had it?

A. Just in this sphere it was a great disaster to us.

Q. Now, certain information has been placed in my hands of
an experiment which was carried out near Auschwitz, and I
would like to ask you if you ever heard about it or knew
about it. The purpose of the experiment was to find a quick
and complete way of destroying people without the delay and
trouble associated with shooting and gassing and burning,
the methods being used. This was the experiment, as I am
advised. A village, a small village was provisionally
erected, with temporary structures, and in it approximately
twenty thousand Jews were put. By means of this newly
invented weapon of destruction, these twenty thousand people
were eradicated almost instantaneously, and there was no,
trace left of them; the explosive used developing
temperatures of from four to five hundred degrees

Do you know about that experiment?

                                                   [Page 56]

A. No, and I consider it utterly improbable. If we bad had
such a weapon under preparation I would have known about it.
But we did not have such a weapon. It is clear that in the
chemical field experiments were made and research work
carried on by both sides in attempts to develop all possible
weapons, because one did not know which side would start
chemical warfare first.

Q. The reports, then, of a new and secret weapon were
exaggerated for the purpose of keeping the German people in
the war?

A. That was the case mostly during the last phase of the
war. From August on ... June or July, 1944, rather, I very
often went to the front. I visited about forty front
divisions in their sectors and could not help seeing that
the troops, just like the German civilian population, were
given hopes of a new weapon coming, new weapons even, and
miracle weapons which, without requiring the use of
soldiers, without military forces, would achieve victory. In
this belief lies the secret why so many people in Germany
continued to sacrifice their lives, although common sense
told them that the war was over. They believed that within
the near future this new weapon would arrive. I wrote to
Hitler about it and tried in different speeches, even before
Goebbels's propaganda leaders, to counteract these hopes.
Both Hitler and Goebbels told me, however, that it was not
propaganda, but that it was a belief which had grown up
amongst the people. Only in the dock here in Nuremberg did I
learn from Fritzsche that this propaganda was spread
systematically amongst the people through certain channels,
and that SS Standartenfuehrer Berg was responsible for it.
Many things have become clear to me now because this man
Berg as a representative of the Ministry of Propaganda had
often taken part in meetings, in big sessions of my
Ministry, as he was writing articles about these sessions.
There he heard of our future plans and then used this
knowledge to tell the people about them with more fantasy
than truth.

Q. When did it become apparent that the war was lost? I take
it that your attitude was that you felt some responsibility
for getting the German people out of the war with as little
destruction as possible. Is that a fair statement of your

A. Yes, but I did not only have that feeling with regard to
the German people. I knew quite well that one should equally
avoid destruction in the occupied territories. That was just
as important to me from a realistic point of view for I said
to myself that, after the war, the responsibility for all
these destructions would not only fall on us, but on the
next German Government, and the coming German generations.

Q. Where you differed with the people who wanted to continue
the war to the bitter end was that you wanted to see Germany
have a chance to restore her life. Is that not a fact?
Whereas, Hitler took the position that, if he could not
survive, he did not care whether Germany survived or not?

A. That is true, and I would never have had the courage to
make this statement before this Tribunal if I had not been
able to prove it on the strength of some documents, because
such a statement is so monstrous. But the letter which I
wrote to Hitler on the 29th of March, and in which I
confirmed this, shows that he said so himself.

Q. Well, if I may comment, it was not a new idea to us that
that was his viewpoint. I think it was believed in most of
the other countries that that was his attitude.

Now, were you present with Hitler at the time he received
the telegram from Goering suggesting that Goering take over

A. On the 23rd of April I flew to Berlin in order to take
leave of several of my associates, and - as I frankly admit
- after all that had happened, also in order to place myself
at Hitler's disposal. Perhaps this will sound strange to
you, but the conflicting feelings I had about the action I
wanted to take against him, and about the way he had of
doing things, still did not give me any clear grounds or any
clear inner conviction as to what my relations should be to
him, so I flew

                                                   [Page 57]

over to see him. I did not know whether he knew of my plans,
and I did not know whether he would order me to remain in
Berlin. But I felt that it was my duty not to run away like
a coward, but to stand up to him again. It was on that day
that Goering's telegram to Hitler arrived. This telegram ...
not to Hitler, but from Goering to Ribbentrop. I mean, it
was Bormann who submitted it to Hitler.

Submitted it to Hitler?

A. Yes, to Hitler.

Q. What did Hitler say on that occasion?

A. Hitler was unusually excited about the contents of the
telegram, and said quite plainly what he thought about
Goering He said that he "had known for some time that
Goering had failed him, that he was corrupt, and that he was
a drug addict." I was extremely shaken, because I felt that
if the head of the State had known this for such a long
time, then it showed a lack of responsibility on his part to
leave such a man in office, when the lives of countless
people depended on him. It was typical of Hitler's attitude
towards the entire problem, however, that he followed his
statement up by saying: "But he can negotiate the
capitulation all the same."

Q. Did he say why he was willing to let Goering negotiate
the capitulation?

A. No. He said in an off-hand manner: "It does not matter
anyway who does it." In the manner he said this, he
expressed all his disregard for the German nation.

Q. That is, his attitude was that there was nothing left
worth saving, so let Goering work it out. Is that a fair
statement of his attitude?

A. That was my impression, yes.

Q. Now this policy, of driving Germany to destruction after
the war was lost, troubled you so much that you became a
party to several plots, did you not, in an attempt to remove
the people who were responsible for the destruction, as you
saw it, of your country?

A. Yes. But I want to add -

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.