The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Then there is Affidavit 18, by the same SS leader Rode,
which the prosecution has submitted as Exhibit USA 563. Rode
states as follows in this affidavit:

  "As far as is known to me, the SD Einsatz groups attached
  to the various army groups were completely under the
  jurisdiction of the latter, that is to say, tactically,
  as well as in every other way. For that reason, the tasks
  and methods of these units were fully known to the
  commanders. They must have approved of these, seeing that
  they never raised any decisive objections to them."

Do you know SS leader Rode?

A. No, I do not know him. I do not think it is necessary to
say much about this, because the General of the Police,
Schellenberg - who led such an Einsatz group himself, and
who really must know - has stated quite clearly, in this
witness stand, what jurisdiction he was under and from whom
he received his orders.

Q. That was not the witness Schellenberg, that was

A. Ohlendorf? Yes.

Q. Now, I have a few questions about the Commissar Order.
Were you present at the discussion when Hitler gave the
Commissar Order to the Commanders-in-Chief by word of mouth?

A. As far as I remember, right at the beginning he spoke
only to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, or the Chief of
the General Staff and a few officers of the OKW about this
Commissar Order. As far as I recollect he referred to that
instruction of his at a later date when addressing the
Commanders-in-Chief. I believe that it was during that
second conference that he used the words: "I cannot expect
that my Generals understand my orders, but I must demand
that they obey them."

Q. Do you know any commanders who resisted that order?

A. Later on someone told me - and I do not know whether it
is true - that Field Marshal Rommel had burned the order.

                                                  [Page 359]

Q. Does not that recollection of yours refer to the Commando
Order? General Field Marshal Rommel was -

A. Oh yes, that was the Commando Order. You are talking
about the Commissar order, are you not?

Q. Yes, that is right.

A. I remember that there were constant objections from the
Army High Command which, unfortunately, had to carry out
this order, and these went on for a long time. Officers of
the General Staff told me, confidentially, that for the most
part it was not being carried out. I know of one official
application made to the Fuehrer, to have this order
officially withdrawn. That was done, although I cannot
remember when.

Q. Who made that application?

A. The Army High Command. Whether it was the Chief of the
General Staff or the Commander-in-Chief, I cannot say.

Q. When was this application made?

A. I believe it was in the Spring of 1942.

Q. The Spring of 1942. And to that application -

A. I know for certain, the order was withdrawn.

Q. Did you talk to any commander who approved of that order?

A. No. All the officers to whom I spoke considered firstly,
that the order should be turned down from the human point of
view, and secondly, that it was wrong from the practical
point of view.

Q. You have told us some of the reasons which Hitler gave
verbally for this order. He is supposed to have mentioned
additional reasons for issuing it. I should like you to tell
us what they were so that we may get this matter quite

A. He gave a lengthy explanation, as he always did when he
felt it necessary to convince somebody.

Q. Did he state -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Have not these reasons already
been given?

DR. LATERNSER: As far as I am informed, Mr. President, they
have not yet all been given.


Q. During that conference did Hitler state -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): One moment. Have you not
already given the reasons which, you say, Hitler gave for
this order?

THE WITNESS: ... I hear the English.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you not already given the reasons which
Hitler gave for making this order?

THE WITNESS: I have not given some very important additional
reasons, which the Fuehrer also pointed out. They were -

THE PRESIDENT: Walt a minute.

Dr. Laternser, I have already had to ask you to be more
brief on many occasions in which you have examined
witnesses, and really you have spent over an hour already on
the High Command and General Staff. Every witness who comes
to the box you take a very long time over, and the Tribunal
thinks that a great deal of their time has been wasted by
you. Now, this witness can give any further reasons, but I
do not want any argument about it. He can give his
explanation now.

THE WITNESS: I have only to add that the Fuehrer said on
that occasion:

  "If you do not believe what I am telling you, then read
  the reports from Counter Intelligence which we have
  received regarding the behaviour of the Russian
  Commissars in the occupied Baltic States. Then you will
  get a picture of what can be expected from these

                                                  [Page 360]

Q. I should like to put a question to you about the report
in Document PS-884, submitted as Exhibit R-351.

THE PRESIDENT: Repeat the number, please.

DR. LATERNSER: PS-884; it is a document submitted by the
Soviet prosecution on 18th December and it is on Page 151 of
the second Document Book for General Jodl. Under II of this
report, Page 153, there is the following statement:

  "To this, Reichsleiter Rosenberg, in Memorandum 3,
  suggests ..."

I would like to ask you for what reason this No. II was
brought out in this report.

A. I can only make a guess, because I did not write it. But
I have no doubt

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): We do not want his guesses, you
know. If he can only guess, then he had better not guess. We
want evidence, not guesses.

DR. LATERNSER: Yes, I will dispense with this question. I
assumed that the witness would have personal knowledge about


Q. Witness, you said yesterday that the Commando Order of
18th October, 1942, had been changed, that is, partially
revoked on the application of the Commander-in-Chief West.
Who was that Commander-in-Chief West who had applied for
that alteration?

A. General Field Marshal Rundstedt, and he applied to have
the entire order withdrawn.

Q. You know the order by General von Reichenau, which the
Soviet prosecution submitted on 13th February as Exhibit
USSR 12? It is dated 10th October, 1941. Do you know the
reasons why this order was issued?

A. Yes. Reichenau at that time was Commander of the Sixth
Army, and in his army sector was the town of Kiev. This
morning I started to describe events that took place in Kiev
at the end of September and that was the reason for this

Q. How did the Commanders-in-Chief exercise their
jurisdiction. Strictly, or not so strictly?

A. I know this because Dr. Leymann -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): That has nothing to do with the
charge against the High Command. There is no charge against
the High Command for having arranged courts-martial or
administering their courts-martial improperly.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I fear I am of a different
opinion on this point. If the commanders heard of any
breaches of discipline or atrocities -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Do you know of anything in the
indictment or anything in the evidence which charges the
High Command or any member of the High Command with improper
behaviour at a court-martial, or in connection with a

DR. LATERNSER: No. I merely want to discover the typical
attitude of the High Command.


Q. What do you know about the reasons

THE PRESIDENT: I cannot hear you.


Q. What do you know about the reasons for the mass deaths
which occurred among Russian prisoners-of-war during the
winter of 1941?

A. I was informed on this subject, because several adjutants
of the Fuehrer were sent there personally, and they reported
to the Fuehrer in my presence. We

                                                  [Page 361]

were mostly concerned with the mass deaths after the last
great battle for the Viasma pocket. The reason for the mass
deaths was described by these adjutants as follows. The
encircled Russian armies had put up fanatical resistance
during the last eight or ten days without any food whatever.
They literally lived on the bark of trees and roots, because
they had retreated to impenetrable wooded country, and when
they fell into our hands they were in such a condition that
they could hardly move. It was impossible to move them. The
situation as regards supplies was critical because the
railway system had been destroyed, so that it was impossible
to take them away. There was no accommodation nearby. Only
immediate careful hospital treatment could have saved the
majority of them. Soon afterwards the rain started and then
the cold set in, and that is the reason why such a large
number of those prisoners, particularly these prisoners of
Viasma, died.

That is the report of the Fuehrer's adjutants who had been
sent there to investigate. Similar reports came from the
Quartermaster General of the Army.

Q. What do you know about the shelling of Leningrad by
German artillery? You remember that a witness has been
examined here on that point?

A. I was present during two conferences which the Fuehrer
himself had with the German artillery commander who was in
charge of the artillery before Leningrad. He brought along
his target charts and these showed a very carefully worked
out system, according to which only key sectors in Leningrad
were marked as targets which it was necessary to shell, so
as to cripple the resistance of the fortress. They were
mostly factories which were still producing munitions. The
ammunition for this heavy artillery, only a small portion of
which could reach the centre of Leningrad, was so scarce
that one had to be extremely economical in its use. They
were mostly captured guns from France, and we only had as
much ammunition as we had captured.

Q. You know that the witness has mentioned that in his
opinion the artillery deliberately destroyed castles in
Leningrad. You have seen the target charts for this

A. Yes; I had the artillery target charts in my briefcase
for many weeks. Only the armament plants were marked on
them. It would have been insane to shoot. at anything else.
Of course, every artillery man knows that through dispersion
the shots can fall elsewhere.

What do you know about the order from Hitler and the OKH to
destroy dwellings and stoves during the retreat in the
winter of 1941? What was the reason for that order?

A. The reasons are that -

Q. I refer to the Order R-130. Unfortunately I have not been
able to ascertain on what day the prosecution presented this
order. I shall ascertain it later and have the Tribunal

A. During that frightful winter battle, when there were up
to forty-five degrees of frost, the commanders at the front
reported to the Fuehrer in his headquarters that this battle
was exclusively a battle for warm shelter. Those who did not
have some sort of heating arrangement - that is to say, a
village with serviceable stoves - could not hold out, and
would not be able to fight the following day. One could say
it really was a fight for stoves; and when, because of this,
we were forced to retreat, the Fuehrer then ordered that
those stoves must be destroyed; not only the houses, but
also the stoves were to be blown up, because in such a
critical situation that alone would prevent the Russians
from pursuing. Since, in accordance with The Hague
regulations for land warfare, every type of destruction is
permissible which is absolutely necessary from the military
point of view, I believe that for this type of winter
warfare-and it only happened during the winter - that order
can be justified.

What do you know about the case of Katyn?

A. Regarding the finding of these mass graves, I received
the first report through my propaganda department, which was
informed through its propaganda company attached to the Army
Group. I heard that the Reich Police Criminal

                                                  [Page 362]

Department had been given the task of investigating the
whole affair, and I then sent an officer from my propaganda
department to the disinterment and the examination by the
foreign experts. I received a report which, in general,
tallies with the report which is contained in the White Book
issued, I think, by the Foreign Office. I have never heard
anyone raise any doubts as to the facts as they were

Q. You have also seen the film which the Soviet prosecution
has shown in this courtroom and which showed atrocities
committed in the Yugoslav theatre of war. Can you explain
any of the pictures which you perhaps still recollect?

A. I believe that every picture shown in this courtroom is
and was perfectly truthful as a picture. These were captured
photographs. But it has never been said what the photographs
represented. It was not clear from the film whether the dog
that was mauling a human being was not photographed in an
army dog training centre.

THE PRESIDENT: That is mere argument.

DR. LATERNSER: I was about to stop him.


DR. LATERNSER: I was thinking of certain photographs which
you might be able to clarify, so that - For instance, I
remember one photograph where a police dog is jumping at a
human being or a dummy. Can you say -

THE PRESIDENT: You asked him about these photographs and he
says that they were all true; in his opinion, true pictures;
and he didn't take them, he does not know anything about
them, and anything that he can say upon them appears to us
to be argument.

DR. LATERNSER: I will withdraw that question.

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