The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Could you yourself have had any influence on the practice
followed by the troops?

A. I tried to exert my influence on various occasions. When
it was reported to me that a commando troop had been
captured-which according to the Fuehrer's decree was not
allowed - then I raised no questions or objections. I made

                                                  [Page 303]

report at all to the Fuehrer on commando operations, which
met with only minor success.

And finally, I often dissuaded him from taking too drastic
views, as in the Pescara case which Field-Marshal Kesselring
pictured to the Tribunal, when I succeeded in convincing the
Fuehrer that only a reconnaissance unit was involved.

Q. Were many units actually wiped out?

A. Commando operations decreased considerably as a result of
the public announcements in the Wehrmacht communique. I
believe that not more than eight or ten cases occurred in

For a time, namely in the months of July and August 1944,
increasingly large numbers of killed terrorists were
reported in the Wehrmacht communiques; these, however, were
not commando troops, but the insurgents in France who were
killed in those months. That is proved in Document 551-PS,
(4). There the order is given ... It is Exhibit USA 551, on
Page 117.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, it is Page 70 of Book 7.

THE WITNESS: Or Page 117 of our Volume II. There it is
ordered -

DR. EXNER: What is ordered? I should like to deal now with
another document; Document PS-532.

THE PRESIDENT: It is time to break off.

(A recess was taken.)

Q. With reference to the Commando Order, I want to mention
Document PS-532, Exhibit RF 368, which is in our Document
Book 2, on Page 113.

This document was offered on a previous occasion, when I
objected to it because it was not signed, or rather because
it was crossed out.

Will you explain why you crossed out the draft order which
is contained in this document?

A. Immediately before this draft order was written, the
Supreme Commander West requested that now, after the
beginning of the invasion, the Commando Order should be
rescinded altogether. I approved that proposal. A draft was
submitted to me here which rescinded the order only
partially, namely in the immediate area of the beach-head
and in Brittany - that is a little farther from the
beach-head - where landings of parachutists were taking
place daily at that time.

THE PRESIDENT: At the time of your objection was not this
document rejected? You told us that you objected to the
document. What I am asking you is what did the Tribunal do
upon your objection, did they maintain it or did they deny

DR. EXNER: The objection was allowed and I think the
document was struck off.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, why are you putting it in now?

DR. EXNER: I did not ask at the time to have the document
struck off, I merely objected that no mention was made of
the fact that the draft order in the document was crossed
out, and that it clearly bore a hand-written marginal note
of Jodl in which he rejected it.

THE PRESIDENT: Just a minute. Either the document was
offered in evidence or it was not and either it has got an
exhibit number or it has not, and as I understand your
objection was rejected.

MR. ROBERTS: It was in fact objected to by Dr. Exner, after
having been given the French Exhibit RF 368, and after
discussion it was then struck from the record, the English
shorthand note reference being Page 289. My Lord, I think in
fact both the prosecution and the defence agreed it has
Jodl's writing upon it, and, therefore, I feel certain that
there can be no question as to its admissibility, either on
behalf of the prosecution or the defence. My Lord, I
certainly intend, with the permission of the Tribunal, to
cross-examine him about it, and I have not the slightest
objection to my friend, Dr. Exner, putting it in.

                                                  [Page 304]


It may, therefore, be left in as Exhibit RF 368.


Q. Will you continue?

A. So at that time it was my intention to rid myself of the
Commando Order entirely. For that reason next to the
sentence under (4) I wrote: "That is just what they should
not be," namely, treated as members of commando units, and I
crossed out the entire first page. That was of no use,
however, because on that very day the Fuehrer made a
different decision with regard to that request from the
Supreme Commander West, and his decision is contained in
Document 551-PS.

DR. EXNER: 551-PS, Exhibit USA 551. That is contained in the
second volume on Page 115, an order on the treatment of
commando personnel. This order contains the following hand-
written remark of yours: "Similar action should be taken in
the Italian theatre of war." This is on Page 117.

Will you briefly explain the contents of that order and the
reason for your remark.

A. That can be briefly explained. In that order territorial
limitations were set restricting the use of the Commando
Order, which henceforth applied only to enemy operations
behind the corps command posts, but not to the battle area
of the beach-head. These were territorial limitations which
had not so far been established or ordered, and I
immediately took over this order for the Italian theatre of
war, because in Italy also there existed a fighting front on
land. If this order applied in practice in Italy, then it
meant that no commando operation which began with a landing
on the coast could be regarded as such, because all of these
landings took place in front of the lines of the corps
command posts. Therefore, I was very anxious to have the
same eased conditions applied to the whole Italian theatre
of war.

Q. I just want to read one paragraph on Page 116; it is the
second paragraph under No. 1. In the first paragraph it
says: "The order remains in force," but the second paragraph
reads: "Excepted are enemy soldiers in uniform in the
immediate battle area of the beach-head, that is in the area
of the divisions fighting in the front line, as well as that
of reserve troops up to and including corps commands, with
reference to (5) of the basic order."

The word "Generalkommando" means "Corps Command"; it has not
been quite correctly translated into French. So this
limitation of the order to certain areas was on the basis of
Jodl's remark also to apply to the Italian theatre.

Now finally -

Before that I have another important question -

THE PRESIDENT: What is it you are saying about this

DR. EXNER: Yes, the word "Generalkommando" has been
translated into the French "Region Militaire". "Region
Militaire" is not quite clear.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that in the English?

DR. EXNER: And in the English it says "Corps Command". That
is correct. The English is correct. "Corps Command" is the
same as "Generalkommando".

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, the Tribunal would prefer that you
should draw the attention of the Tribunal to anything which
you say is a mis-translation, rather than stating that it is
a mis-translation. I call it a question of opinion whether
it is a mis-translation or not. It is not for you to tell,
us that it is a mistranslation. You may draw our attention
to it and say that you submit it as a mis-translation. But
now will you tell us this also: In one copy of this Document
551, it appears to be signed by or initialled by Warlimont.
In the other, in your version of the translation it appears
to be signed by the defendant Keitel. What is the
explanation of that?

                                                  [Page 305]

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, might I make a suggestion? I think the
Tribunal should get the original from the Exhibit Room.
551-PS, in fact, consists of three documents. The first is a
draft altered in pencil, and the second is a draft
initialled "W". That is Warlimont with Jodl's pencilled note
at the end, extending it to Italy, and the third is the
final order in which the pencilled note of Jodl and the
alteration of distribution to Italy is incorporated. So
there are really three documents, and the last is a
mimeographed document with the mimeographed signature of
Keitel. That appears from the original draft.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Exner.


Q. The prosecution has been emphasizing that you gave strict
instructions to have this order kept secret, and that you
ordered its distribution only down to the level of
commanding officers to avoid it falling into enemy hands at
all costs. You gave these instructions for the second order,
namely the explanatory order, 503-PS. Will you explain why
you ordered such strict secrecy?

A. These instructions for secrecy refer, in fact, only to
Document 503.

Q. That, I want to add, is in the second volume of my
Document Book, on Page 102. That is the order on secrecy,
signed by Jodl. Will you continue?

A. Particular secrecy for this order was quite inevitable.
First of all, it was directed only to the commanders.
Secondly, the order contained in great detail information on
the considerable damage which the German Wehrmacht had
already suffered through these commando operations, and the
damage which might still be caused under certain
circumstances. If the order were to fall into enemy hands,
it would certainly be an incentive for the enemy to continue
that particular type of warfare in increased measure.
Thirdly, the order 498-PS could be considered as a reprisal,
which was contrary to International Law. But the last
sentence in Document PS-503, a sentence which can easily be
recognized as a later addition, since before it the order
seems to end - that sentence, I must say, made me indignant.
This was one of the reasons why I ordered that particularly
strict secrecy for this order.

THE PRESIDENT: Which sentence are you referring to?

THE WITNESS: I refer to the last sentence of Document
PS-503, which says:

  "If it should prove suitable to save one or two men
  temporarily to interrogate them, then they are to be shot
  immediately after interrogation."

I cannot prove it

THE PRESIDENT: That is not in 503, is it?

DR. EXNER: 503.

THE PRESIDENT: You have not printed the whole of 503 in your
Document Book. Is that it?

DR. EXNER: Unfortunately, I have not 503, but only the
secrecy order, Page 102; but I expressly requested that it
should he submitted to the Tribunal.

THE WITNESS: May I add that, in fact, this sentence became
the source of all the trouble. The troops made use of that
sentence, and on principle or as a rule did not kill
commandos but took them prisoners.


Q. You said this last sentence made you indignant. Were you
also convinced that it was against International Law?

A. Yes, one could have doubts in that respect, too, but I
found it too unpleasant from a human point of view, because
if one does shoot a man, I think it is indecent to first of
all extort all information out of him.

Q. I want to ask one more question on what you mentioned
before the recess.

You said that you did not report everything to the Fuehrer,
you did not report all commando raids to him. That is quite
clear. But, you said you also did not

                                                  [Page 306]

report information which you obtained about the enemy,
killings and so on. What did you mean by that?

A. I reported the results of Dieppe, the violations of
International Law which we thought had been committed there,
the shackling of German prisoners and so on. There was only
one thing which I did not report, namely the shackling of
some men belonging to the organization Todt in such a manner
that they strangled themselves. I did not report that and it
did not appear in any order or Wehrmacht communique.

THE PRESIDENT: The defendant has already told us about this,
so why you should ask him again, I do not know.

DR. EXNER: I thought it was not quite clear.


Q. We now pass to another subject, the order regarding
Leningrad and Moscow. How did Hitler's order about the fate
of Leningrad and Moscow come into being? It is Document
C.123, second volume, Page 145 of my Document Book; it was
submitted as Exhibit USSR 114. This is the order stating
that capitulation was not to be accepted. How did this order
come into being?

A. At the beginning of the second paragraph appears the

   "The moral justification for this measure is clear to
   the whole world."

That I shall now explain. The first cause was a report from
General Field-Marshal von Leeb, the Supreme Commander of the
Army Group North at Leningrad. He reported that the
population of Leningrad had already begun to press against
his positions towards south and west. He pointed out that it
would be absolutely impossible for him to keep these
millions of Leningrad people fed and supplied, if they were
to fall into his hands, because the supply situation of the
Army Group was catastrophic at that time. That was the first
cause. But shortly beforehand, Kiev had been abandoned by
the Russian armies, and hardly had we occupied the city when
one tremendous explosion after another occurred. The major
part of the inner city burned down, 50,000 people were made
homeless. German soldiers were used to fight the flames and
suffered considerable losses, because further large amounts
of explosives went up into the air during the fire. At
first, the local commander at Kiev thought that it was
sabotage on the part of the population; but then we found a
demolition chart, listing fifty or sixty objectives in Kiev
which already a long time ago had been prepared for
destruction; and this chart was, in fact, correct, as
investigation by engineers proved at once. At least forty
more objectives were ready to be blown up; for the most
part, a remote-control was to set off the explosion by means
of radio waves. I myself had the original of this demolition
chart in my hands. That proved -

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think we need go into the details of
Kiev. This deals with Leningrad. The defendant might briefly
state in substance what he says happened at Kiev, but we
cannot investigate details of it.

DR. EXNER: Mr. President, I wanted - or the defendant wanted
- to show that it was feared these happenings in Kiev might
repeat themselves in Leningrad.

THE PRESIDENT: I quite understand that, but if he said that
he had plans of the blowing up of Leningrad, it would be a
different matter and he could give that in more detail. But
what I am saying is we cannot go into the details about

DR. EXNER: No. I only want to refer, without quoting, to my
Document AJ 15, on Page 159 of my second volume. That is a
report on these explosions in Kiev. We will not dwell on
this matter any more now. I just wanted to bring it to the
notice of the Tribunal.


Q. Please continue.

                                                  [Page 307]

A. Then I only need to say in conclusion that the Fuehrer
always expected that what had happened in Kiev, in Kharkov
and in Odessa would happen also in Leningrad, and possibly
in Moscow. That was the decisive reason for the transmittal
of this order, which already had been put into writing, from
the Fuehrer to the High Command of the Army. And the order
was endorsed by the Russian radio report that Leningrad had
been undermined and would be defended to the last man.

Therefore, the purpose of the order was exclusively that of
protecting German troops against such catastrophes as had
already occurred; for entire staffs had been blown into the
air in Kharkov and Kiev. For this reason the Fuehrer issued
this order, which I, in turn, on his express request, again
laid down in writing. That is the reason why the order began
with the words, "The Fuehrer has again decided". It means
"once more", "for the second time".

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