The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Were there other possibilities of influencing Hitler?

A. If it was not possible to contradict him openly to
prevent something, which according to my innermost
convictions I had to prevent, there was still the means,
which I often employed, of using delaying tactics, a kind of
passive resistance. I delayed work on the matter and waited
for a psychologically favourable moment to bring the matter
before Hitler again.

This procedure, too, was often successful; for example, in
the case of the intention to turn certain low-level flyers
over to lynch justice. It had no success in the commando

Q. We will speak about these things later. The witness
Gisevius, in answer to questions of the prosecution, said
that "Jodl had a key position with Hitler."

Did you know this witness by sight, or by hearing about him,
or in any other way?

A. I did not have that honour. I heard the name of this
witness for the first time here, and I saw him here in the
Court for the first time.

Q. What, if anything, could you influence Hitler not to do?

A. It is clear that I could only give the Fuehrer extracts
of reports of events. In view of his inclination towards
making emotional decisions, I, naturally, was very cautious
in reporting unverified reports made by agents. If the
witness meant this by his broad term "key position", he did
not err in this case. But if he intended it to mean that I
kept from the Fuehrer atrocities committed by our own
Wehrmacht or atrocities committed by the SS, then that is
absolutely untrue. How was that witness to know about it?

                                                  [Page 285]

On the contrary, I immediately reported any news of that
kind to the Fuehrer, and no one could have stopped me from
doing so. I will give examples: An affidavit by Rittmeister
Scheidt was read here. He testified that Obergruppenfuehrer
Fegelein told the Chief of the General Staff, Guderian, and
General Jodl of atrocities of the SS Brigade "Keminski" in
Warsaw, which was absolutely true. Ten minutes later I
reported this fact to the Fuehrer and he immediately ordered
the dissolution of this Brigade. When I heard from the
American Radio through my Press chief of the shooting of 120
American prisoners near Malmedy, I immediately, on my own
initiative, had an investigation started through the
Commander-in-Chief West, in order to report the result to
the Fuehrer. When unimaginable horrors committed by an
Ustaschi company in Croatia came to my knowledge, I reported
this to the Fuehrer immediately.

I should like to interrupt you a moment. In your diary,
Document 1807-PS, you write, on 12th June, 1942 - Page 119,
Second Document Book:

  "The German field police disarmed and arrested an
  Ustaschi company in Eastern Bosnia because of atrocities
  against the' civil population."

I should like to add that this is noteworthy, since this
Ustaschi company was something like an SS group in Croatia
and was fighting on the German side. Because of the
atrocities the German field police arrested this Ustaschi

  "The Fuehrer did not approve of this measure, which was
  carried out by order of the commander of the 708th
  Division, as it undermined the authority of the Ustaschi
  on which the whole Croatian State was founded. This is
  bound to have an effect on peace and order in Croatia
  more harmful than the unrest of the population created by
  the atrocities."

Was this the incident of which you were thinking just now?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you another example?

A. After the issuing of the commando order, I reported
violations of International Law by the enemy to the Fuehrer,
only when he would certainly have heard of them by other
means. I reported cases of commando undertakings and capture
of commandos, only when I had to assume with certainty that
he would hear of them through other channels.

In this connection I did try to bar new spontaneous

Q. Was it possible to bar Hitler?

A. Unfortunately not.

Q. I do not understand.

A. I can only say, unfortunately not. There were numberless
ways in which the Fuehrer was informed on military matters.
Every individual and every establishment could report to the
adjutant's department directly. The photographer sent out by
the Fuehrer to take pictures at the front found it expedient
on this occasion to report to the Fuehrer on military
matters also. When I objected to this, the Fuehrer answered:
"I don't care from whom I hear the truth; the main thing is
that I hear it." These reports, however, were not reports of
atrocities but just the opposite. Unfortunately, through
many channels hostile to the Wehrmacht reports against the
correct and chivalrous attitude of the Wehrmacht reached the
Fuehrer. It was these reports which brought about these
decisions for brutal proceedings. A tremendous amount of
damage would have been avoided if we soldiers had been in a
position to keep this information from the Fuehrer.

Q. What role did Canaris play in this connection?

A. Canaris saw the Fuehrer dozens of times. Canaris could
report to him what he wanted and whatever he knew. It sears
to me that he knew much more than I, who was concerned
exclusively with the operational conduct of the war. But he
never said a word. He never said one word to me, and it is
quite clear why. This man, who is now dead, had the very
best understanding with Himmler and with Heydrich. He needed
that, so that they would not become suspicious of this nest
of conspirators.

                                                  [Page 286]

Q. The witness Gisevius said a great deal about a putsch and
intentions to carry out a putsch. Did you personally know
anything about such plans?

A. I never heard a single word or intimation about any
putsch, or about any intentions of carrying out a putsch.

Q. At any time, before or during the war, would you have
considered a putsch possible or promising?

A. The witness spoke of putsches as casually as of washing
his hands. That alone proves to me that he never thought
about it seriously. The results of the Kapp putsch in 1921,
of the Hitler putsch of 1923 are well-known. If more proof
is necessary, there is the result of the 20th of July, 1944.
At that time no one any longer expected victory in the true
sense of the word. Nevertheless, in this putsch, in this
attempt, not one soldier, not one worker, rose. All the
members of the attempted putsch were alone. In order to
overthrow this system, a revolution would have been
necessary, a mightier, a more powerful revolution than the
National Socialist one had been. And behind such a
revolution there would have had to be the mass of the
workers and the majority of the Wehrmacht as a whole and not
simply the commander of the Potsdam garrison, of whom the
witness spoke.

But how one was to wage a war for survival with other
countries and at the same time carry on a revolution and
expect to gain anything positive for the German people, I do
not know. Only geniuses who lived in Switzerland can judge
that. The German Wehrmacht and the German officers were not
trained for revolution. Once the Prussian officers struck
the ground with their sabres, that was the only
revolutionary deed of the Wehrmacht that I know of. That was
in the year 1848. If today people who co-operated actively
in order to bring Hitler to power, who had a part in the
laws which we soldiers with our oath of allegiance to Adolf
Hitler were bound to support, if these people demanded
revolution and mutiny on the part of the Wehrmacht when they
did not like the man any more or when reverses occurred,
then I can only call that immoral.

Q. Were there tensions and crises in your relation with
Hitler? You have already intimated something in that

A. I could write a book about that more easily than give a
brief answer. I should only like to say that, apart from
many exalting moments, our life in the Fuehrer's
Headquarters was in the long run a martyrdom for us
soldiers, for it was not a military headquarters; it was a
civilian one, and we soldiers were guests there. It is not
easy to be a guest anywhere for five and a half years. I
should like to add just one thing: among the few officers
who dared to face the Fuehrer eye to eye and to speak in a
tone and manner that made the listeners hold their breath
because they feared a catastrophe - among these few officers
was myself.

Q. Give us an example of such a crisis in your relations
with Hitler.

A. The worst crisis was in August, 1942, in Winnitza, when I
defended General Halder against unjustified criticism. It
was an operational problem, the details of which will not
interest the Tribunal. Never in my life did I experience
such an outbreak of rage from any human being. From that day
on, he never came to eat.

Q. To the common meal?

A. No, he never came to the common meal. The report on the
situation no longer took place in my map room but in the
Fuehrer's quarters. At every report on the situation from
that day on, an SS officer took part. Eight stenographers
were ordered to be there. From that day on, they took down
every word. The Fuehrer refused to shake hands with me any
more. He did not greet me any more or rarely. This condition
lasted until the 30th January, 7943, when he told me through
Field-Marshal Keitel that he could no longer work with me
and that I would be replaced by General Paulus as soon as
Paulus had taken Stalingrad.

Q. Did you yourself not try during this time to be released
from the OKW?

                                                  [Page 287]

A. During all this time, every third day I asked General
Schmundt to see to it that I might be sent to a position at
the front with the mountain troops in Finland. I wanted to
go there. But this did not happen.

Q. The prosecution has asserted that you enjoyed the good
graces of the Fuehrer and that he lavished his favour on
you. What is true in that?

A. I do not need to waste many words on that. What I said is
the actual. truth. I am afraid that what the prosecution
said is only imagined.

Q. It was also said that you were a career soldier. How
about that?

A. If the prosecution means that as a so-called political
soldier I was promoted especially quickly, they are
mistaken. I became a general in my fiftieth year. That was
quite normal. In July, 1940, when I was appointed General
(of Artillery) it is true I by-passed the grade of
Lieutenant-General, but that was only a coincidence. A much
younger general of the Air Force, Jeschonnek, Chief of the
General Staff of the Luftwaffe, was to be promoted to
General of the Air Force. Then Schmundt said to the Fuehrer:
"Jodl could perhaps do that." So shortly before the
Reichstag session the Fuehrer decided to promote me also to
General (of Artillery). This Jeschonnek, who is much younger
than I, became Colonel-General much sooner than I. Zeitler,
who was formerly my subordinate, became Colonel-General at
the same time as I did.

THE PRESIDENT: I think we will break off.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn this afternoon at 4.30.


Q. We were discussing to what extent you enjoyed the favour
of the Fuehrer, that is with regard to -

Was it not an outstanding event if you received any
decorations from Hitler?

A. Surprisingly, when the Winnitza crisis was over on the
30th January, 1943. I received from the Fuehrer the Party
Golden Emblem of Honour; and that was the only decoration
which I received from the Fuehrer.

Q. In the entire five and a half years of war?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you receive a gift or donation from Hitler, or from
the Party?

A. Not a cent, not a bean. In order to conceal nothing I can
mention the fact that in Headquarters we received a package
of coffee from the Fuehrer each Christmas.

Q. Did you acquire any estates or receive them as a
recognition or gift in the territories occupied by us?

A. Not one. If in the Indictment the sentence is set down in
a summary manner: "the defendants enriched themselves in the
occupied territories," I can, as far as I am concerned,
describe this in one word, and I must be frank, that it is a
libel against a decent German officer.

Q. During the war you saved some of your pay as a General.
How did you invest this money?

A. My entire savings of this war are at the moment in Reich
bonds ....

THE PRESIDENT: He said that he could not save a penny. He
has not yet been cross-examined about it.


Q. During the entire period of the war you were with Hitler
and therefore you must really know him best. Consequently I
should like to ask you in detail about the personality of
the Fuehrer; but the Tribunal does not desire repetition.
Therefore tell us quite briefly what particularly influenced
you in Hitler's behaviour, what impressed you particularly?
What were the things you disliked?

A. Hitler was a leader of exceptional scope. His knowledge
and his intellect, his rhetoric and his will power triumphed
in the end in every spiritual conflict

                                                  [Page 288]

over every adversary. He combined to an unusual degree logic
and clarity of thought, scepticism and excess of
imagination, which very frequently foresaw what would
happen, but also very often went astray. I really marvelled
at him when, in the winter of 1941-42, with his faith and
with his energy he stabilised the wavering Eastern front,
for at that time, as in 1812, a catastrophe was imminent.
His life in the Fuehrer Headquarters was nothing but duty
and work. The modesty in his manner of life was impressive.
There was not one day during the war -

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing). One moment. As you said, Dr.
Exner, the Tribunal has had to listen to this sort of thing
over and aver again already. We are not interested in that.


Q. Perhaps you can tell the High Tribunal something which it
has heard less frequently, what you disliked in the
personality of Hitler.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think that, put in that general way,
it is of any interest to the Tribunal, what he disliked in
Hitler. I mean, can he not get on with his own case?


Q. Did you have that feeling that you were close to the
Fuehrer personally?

A. No, in no way at all.

Q. All your relationships were essentially official?

A. Yes, purely official. I did not belong to his private
circle, and he did not know any more about me than that my
name was Jodl, and therefore presumably I must have come
from Bavaria.

Q. Who belonged to the private circle?

A. Chiefly the "old guard" from the time when the party was
in its developing stage: Bormann first of all, the original
woman secretaries, his personal physician, and the political
or SS adjutants.

Q. Your speech to the Gauleiter was used by the prosecution
to prove that you were an unconditional follower of the
Fuehrer and his enthusiastic adherent. Tell us, how did you
come to make that speech?

A. Bormann asked the Fuehrer for this speech, and the
Fuehrer ordered it, even though I made this speech very
reluctantly, chiefly because of lack of time. But it was
generally the wish in this period of crisis -

Q. When was this speech?

A. In November, 1943. The Italian defection had preceded it.
It was the time of the heavy bombing attacks. At this time
it was naturally necessary to give the political leaders at
home a completely unvarnished picture of the whole military
situation, but at the same time to fill them with a certain
amount of confidence in the supreme leadership. This speech,
which had the title, "The Strategic Situation of Germany at
the Beginning of the Fifth Year of the War," could obviously
not be made by a Block leader, it could only be made by an
officer of the Operational Staff of the Wehrmacht, and so I
delivered this speech.

Q. What were the contents of this speech?

A. The contents, as I have already said, were an overall
picture of the strategic situation. Here, before the
Tribunal, naturally only the introduction was read. This
introduction painted a picture in retrospect about what lay
behind us, but not from the political point of view, rather
from the strategic angle. I described the operational
necessity for all the operations of the so-called wars of
aggression. In no way did I identify myself with the
National Socialist Party, but, as is quite understandable
for an officer of the General Staff, with my Supreme
Commander; for at that time it was no longer a question of
National Socialism or democracy. The question was the "to be
or not to be" of the German people. And there were patriots
in Germany, too, not only in the neighbouring States. And I
count myself among these patriots as long as I live.
Besides, it is not important to whom

                                                  [Page 289]

one speaks, but it is important what one says. I can also
establish that I delivered that same speech to the military
district commanders and to the senior officers of the
reserve army.

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