The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/08/15

Q. You considered that this bloody order should not be
applied? Is that right?

A. That is right.

Q. You knew that this order emanated from Hitler?

A. Yes, I could imagine that.

Q. That is to say, in 1942 you knew that Hitler's order to
murder existed, and yet you followed him?

A. You are comparing two things which are not comparable.
There is quite a difference between not treating Commissars
as prisoners of war and giving an order for the killing of
five million Jews.

Q. Then, if I understand you correctly, the fact that you
did not go against Hitler meant that you considered such an
order to be permissible in the conduct of the war by the
German army?

A. No; I considered it was an impossible order; and that is
why I fought against it, and not only passively as others

Q. But you continued to support Hitler?

A. Yes.

Q. Here is the last question. During the war, did you ever
happen to come across anything referring to preparations for
biological warfare?

A. Never.

Q. Did you ever hear the name of a certain Major von

A. Yes, I know the name.

Q. He was the representative of the OKW in the Ministry of
Propaganda, was he not?

A. No, he was not. He was a radio expert in the Propaganda
Department of the OKW.

Q. A copy of a letter of 19th October, 1944, will be
submitted to you. This letter bears your signature, and it
is directed to Major von Passavant of the OKW. This is a
short document, and I am going to read it to you:

                                                  [Page 299]

  "To the Chief of Broadcasting Major von Passavant, OKW. A
  listener, factory owner Gustav Otto, Reichenberg, has
  sent me the enclosed sketch with the proposal to carry
  out biological warfare. I am submitting this to you with
  the request that you forward it to the proper office.
  Heil Hitler. Fritzsche."

Do you remember this document?

A. Of course, I do not remember it. At the same time I want
to state that I have no doubt that it is genuine.

Q. Very well. I should like to put the last question to you:
Thus, you were in favour of the planning and the carrying
through by Germany of biological warfare, is that correct?

I have finished, Mr. President.

A. But I must have an opportunity to answer the last
question. I wish to state that I was by no means in favour
of biological warfare, but the situation was as follows:
Every day piles of letters came in from listeners, and these
were passed on by one of the departments to the office
competent to deal with the matter concerned, and the
accompanying letter, which consisted of two or three lines,
was submitted to me for signature. As a rule I did not read
the contents of the letters.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr: Fritz, do you want to re-examine?



Q. Herr Fritzsche, just now during General Rudenko's cross-
examination you were asked about the radio speech of 2nd
May, 1940, in which you spoke about your journey to Norway.
Can you tell me more exactly when you went on that trip?

A. I am afraid I cannot tell you the date exactly, but if I
am not mistaken, it was at the end of April.

Q. The official report of the Norwegian Government on war
damage after Norway's occupation by the Germans was put to
you. Here it is said that the fighting which had caused this
damage could not have taken place until after you had
already completed your journey. Is that true?

A. That is perfectly possible, but I should like to say
this: In the extract which the Soviet Prosecutor has read
without quoting the beginning, I described precisely what I
had seen in clearly stated places; Lillehammer and Godenthal
are a few names which occur to me now. To compare these
statements now with the statements made by the Norwegian
Government regarding the total damage is nothing less than
the attempt to measure a liquid with a yard measure or vice

Q. I have one other question in this connection. Was this
journey of yours carried out before the British landing in
Norway or afterwards?

A. I myself had an opportunity to watch a fight with British
troops. I think it was just south of a place called Ottar in
the Buldrenthal.

DR. FRITZ: Mr. President, General Rudenko, during his cross-
examination, submitted three interrogation records. One was
from Voss, Exhibit USSR 471, one from Schoerner, Exhibit
USSR 472, and one from Stahel, Exhibit USSR 473. In the
meantime I have looked through these three records, and I
should like to ask the High Tribunal also to compare them. I
have ascertained that in these three records of the
statements of three different persons, parts of the answers
are repeated; and they tally, word for word. It says, for
example -

THE PRESIDENT: You are not getting this from the witness;
you are making an argument to us, and you must do that at
some other time.

DR. FRITZ: I just wanted to make an application, Mr.
President. If these three records are used for the findings,
then I wish to make an application that at

                                                  [Page 300]

least one of these persons who were interrogated be brought
here in person for the purpose of cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Were you meaning that you should see, or that
we should examine, the whole of those three affidavits, or
were you meaning that you wanted one of the people who made
the affidavits to come here in order to give evidence and be
cross-examined? Which do you mean?

DR. FRITZ: The latter, Mr. President. I should like to
request that all three be summoned.

THE WITNESS: All three. I must ask to have all three called.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will consider your application.

DR. FRITZ: Apart from this, Mr. President. I do not wish to
carry out any further re-direct examination.


Q. There is one thing, defendant. You referred to the
Commissar decree, or order, and you spoke of it as though it
were an order not to treat Commissars as prisoners of war.
That was not the order, was it? The order was to kill them.

THE WITNESS: The order which I got to know about in the
Sixth Army was an order saying that Commissars who had been
captured should be shot.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. That is a very different thing from not
being treated as prisoners of war. The answer you gave was
that you imagined the Commissar order came from Hitler, but
it is a very different thing, an order not to treat
Commissars as ordinary prisoners of war and to kill
5,000,000 Jews. That was not a fair comparison at all, was

THE WITNESS: In this case I must admit that my way of
expressing myself with reference to these Commissars was not

THE PRESIDENT: There is one other thing I want to ask you.
In October, 1939, this untruthful statement about the
Athenia was published in a German newspaper. That is right,
is it not?

THE WITNESS: In October, 1939? During the whole of September
and October untruthful statements about the Athenia were
made in the German Press as well as on the German radio.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. But on 23rd October, 1939, a
particularly untruthful statement attributing the sinking of
the Athenia to Mr. Winston Churchill was made in a German
newspaper. You told us about it.


THE PRESIDENT: And you continued to broadcast referring to
those alleged facts for some time, did you not?

THE WITNESS: Of course, because at the time I was still
under the impression that they were true and my -

THE PRESIDENT: That is what I wanted to ask you about. You
had a naval liaison officer in your office?


THE PRESIDENT: What inquiries did you make?

THE WITNESS: This naval officer was not actually the liaison
officer between us and the Navy G.H.Q. He was censorship
officer for the entire armed forces. Nevertheless I
naturally called on his services in connection with naval
matters. Several times I instructed, or rather requested him
to find out from the Navy G.H.Q. how the investigation of
the Athenia case stood. The answer was always the same: "The
position still is that no German submarine was near the
place of the catastrophe."

                                                  [Page 301]

THE PRESIDENT: And are you saying that that liaison officer
of the Navy told you that after 23rd October, 1939?


THE PRESIDENT: Did he continue to tell you that?


THE PRESIDENT: That is all. He may return to the dock.

Yes, Dr. Fritz?

DR. FRITZ: Now, with the permission of the Tribunal, I
should like to call the witness Herr von Schirrmeister.

MORITZ VON SCHIRRMEISTER, a witness, took the stand and
testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Moritz von Schirrmeister.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear by God, the
Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth
and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Witness, before beginning your examination, I should like
to ask you to make your answers quite general and as brief
as possible.

Will you please give the Tribunal very briefly some
particulars of your career, so that the Tribunal may know
who you are.

Q. I come from a family of officers and civil servants;
studied theology for three terms; was, for ten years, a
banking official, five of them in South America; then an
editor until my appointment in Berlin; on 1st October, 1931,
I became a member of the Party; was SS Hauptsturmfuehrer in
the Allgemeine SS; during the war four times a soldier; the
last time from 31st July, 1944, on; on 22nd September, 1944,
prisoner of war in British hands, since then I have been in
Great Britain.

Q. When I discussed the subject of your examination with you
a few days ago, you told me that your former positive
attitude towards National Socialism would not prevent you in
any way from making truthful statements here, is that true?

A. I have already told you that I believed in this cause,
that I have sacrificed everything to it, that I have lost
everything through it. It was a very bitter thing for me.
But today I know that I have served a bad cause. I have
freed myself entirely from it. In my last camp in England I
was permitted to assist in the re-education of my comrades.
There I was allowed to edit the camp newspaper. And if I
only could, then I would help today to rebuild a democratic

Q. When did you become acquainted with the defendant

A. On 1st July, 1938.

Q. What were you at the time? What position were you

A. I was an editor in Braunschweig and I was called to the
Ministry of Propaganda in order to become Dr. Goebbels's
personal Press expert.

Q. What position did you actually occupy in the Ministry of

A. Up to 1st July, 1943, I was Dr. Goebbels's personal Press
expert. Then I was personal expert to State Secretary Dr.
Gutterer until 1st April, 1944, then went with him for three
months to the UFA, which was the controlling company of all
film companies. Then, On 31st July, 1944, I went to the

Q. Did you have daily contact with Dr. Goebbels?

                                                  [Page 302]

A. Yes, since the outbreak of the war. Let me describe
briefly what my main activities were.

Q. Very briefly, please.

A. During the war I had to look through all the news and
propaganda material coming in from enemy broadcasting
stations, and regularly submit extracts from it to Goebbels.
These extracts formed the basis for his propaganda
instructions, which he himself issued every morning. In the
afternoon and evening I had to telephone them to the Press
section and radio section. So that during the war, except
when my deputies took my place, I was with Dr. Goebbels. in
his apartment, I took my meals with him, slept in his house,
accompanied him on journeys, and so on.

Q. What position did Fritzsche occupy at the time?

A. Herr Fritzsche in those days was the deputy chief in the
department "Inland Press."

Q. Will you please describe the nature and importance of
Fritzsche's position in the Propaganda Ministry also during
the period which followed. Very briefly, please?

A. I had to acquaint myself with the work of the German
Press department. Conditions there were as bad as they could
be. The chief, Herr Berndt, adopted undisguised table-
thumping tactics. He went about shouting and commanding and
he sacked editors en masse.

THE PRESIDENT: Would you put your earphones right?

THE WITNESS: In ability and knowledge the officials in
charge were inferior to the average editor. The only
steadying influence was Herr Fritzsche; he was the only
expert. He knew the needs and requirements of the Press. On
the one hand he had to mend the china which Herr Berndt was
for ever smashing, and on the other hand he tried to replace
inefficient officials in the organization with good ones.

Q. Would it be correct to say, therefore, that defendant
Fritzsche was not appointed as an exponent of the Party, but
as an expert?

A. Only as an expert. The extremist Party men in the
Ministry did not give Fritzsche his full due. But as an
expert he was then and later the good spirit of the Press.

Q. Was Fritzsche one of those collaborators in the Ministry
who had regular conferences with Goebbels?

A. These regular conferences had not yet begun to be held in
those days, and Fritzsche was not one of these men in any

Q. So that he was not consulted until he became a department

A. No. Only as far as such conferences were taking place,
but actually only since the outbreak of war.

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