The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Burgdorf: If I may point out the development as it is
in the army very often. We have now several thousand
officers who have never served with a fighting unit,
or the last time, at the end of the world war. Since
that time they were either used in office positions,
administrative positions or as railroad commanders,
patrolling trains, while the front was far away and
these spaces had to he protected. Now they are at our
disposal. Reichsminister Goebbels has now justifiably
demanded, that these men shall not be dismissed
because we could not use them as officers, while all
men back to the class of 86 have been drafted.
Because,if we would discharge them from the active
Wehrmacht, even younger men might be dismissed who
could still be IA, while old men are still being
drafted. That they remain on active service has not
been disputed by the Reichsmarshal. That they have to
be used, is evident. The only question is how can
they be used.

Goering: In the World War the men have done their
duty as officers and have been retired.

Burgdorf: But they have not been trained with arms at
all. We have an officer's training regiment at
Wildtlecken. There, the men have been divided into
three parts: those who have to be dismissed because
they can't do their job any more, and would be of
better use in business -- that will be thoroughly
examined -- those who could be used advantageously in
any capacity within the units. and those who have
systematically shirked their duty during the whole
war. We have found people who have been with 15
different units during one year from which it can be
seen that they have been sent away everywhere.

Goering: If you have a shirker, you courtmartial and
decommission him. I am only of the opinion that it is
impossible in a profession-this can't be found

                                           [Page 705]

in the whole world -- that somebody, with a clean
record, who has served honorably, shall be degraded
because he is being used in a subordinate position.

The Fuehrer: It is so with us, not in England.

Goering: He always remains an officer.

Burgdorf: A retired officer can only start again.
Hewel told me of a colonel, who entered the service
again and was killed as an airgunner.

Goering: Ask, why he has been dismissed.

Burgdorf: He thinks, he has been quite a decent

The Fuehrer: In England rank goes with the position.

Goering: I have examined it thoroughly. If a man is a
captain and is in line to become major in 10 years,
and tomorrow he fills a post which carries the rank
of major, he will be made major out of his turn, and
if he returns to a position which carries the rank of
captain, he becomes a captain again. But, if due to
his length of service, he is up for major after 10
years, he will become major, no matter which position
he holds. That applies only for those who advanced
outside of their turn.

The Fuehrer: Now I want to have an exact report how
it is in England. Who can give it?

Fegelein: General Christian knows it well. I have
talked to him, he was in America.

Burgdorf: It will then have to be decided, whether we
should form officer unit,,,, whereby should be added
that in the officer units a first lieutenant may lead
perhaps a squad and a captain a platoon, where ranks
are nonsense. But I warn you, since I have seen the
men. The last prestige of the officer corps will be
lost by the run of an entire battalion of officers.
Because the men I have seen, will run away.

Goering: That is correct. But how do you intend to
make an officer of a man who knows that he may be
degraded any time without him doing anything wrong?

Burgdorf: As soon as the Fuehrer started to promote
men without regard in what rank he happened to be
only according to their qualification, at that
moment. it was logical that we said to the people

who could not fulfill it: I am sorry but you are not
capable to fill that post.

Keitel: But these men are completely different men.
They would not have come if they had been told that,
they would have taken up another profession.

Burgdorf: In this war there is no officer, who has
not been promoted three grades during this war.

Goering: Naturally he has been promoted; if an
officer has gotten his discharge because of age or
temporary illness, illness does not enter into the

The Fuehrer: I believe, the point is briefly as
follows, Goering. This, whole bureaucratic apparatus
is going to be cleaned out now. It has indeed become
so inflated that in comparison the civilian
bureaucracy, appears like a rabbit against a saurian,
and that comes from the fact that the military at the
beginning of the war automatically calls back into
the ranks every man who has ever seen military
service and appears on some file. They have been
called up on the basis of their former ranks.

They have been promoted again now. The men have grown
old and can lead only in a limited way. For those are
world-war-officers, they have the rank of a general
today, and are not capable of commanding a battalion.
Thus the situation would arise that I would call out
all the men in the whole nation who are only fit for
limited war service, and have them serve in the army,
regardless of the positions they occupy in civilian
life, while at the same time I am dismissing and
sending home others, who occupy superfluous posts,
because I cannot use them. To the general I cannot
give a division or a regiment, because he can't
handle it. To a colonel I cannot give a battalion,
because he cannot handle that at all. He has been
currently promoted and cannot even command a company.
This is the problem. It has nothing to do with his
claims for a pension. But the moment I am calling up
the Volkssturm and drafting, God only knows what kind
of people by lowering the age limit, I up and send
people home who are absolutely fit for front line
duty, because they oc-

                                           [Page 707]

cupy a post, which apparently needs not to be
occupied at all Jand they do not fill this post,
because the post is superfluous, because they sit in
a bureaucracy, which we want to air out. Thus I am
sending home people, who are fit f or front line
duty, are really soldiers, and others, who are only
fit for limited service., and are not soldiers, I am

Goering: Exactly-that must not happen. He shall go to
a post where he can work but in his rank.

The Fuehrer: Yes, I can not use him in his rank.

Goering: Not in his official position. He has done
his duty during the world war, has become a regular
army officer.

The Fuehrer: I admit all of that. But take it, the
man is now a colonel, and to give him command over a
regiment would mean assassinating 3,000 men.

Goering: He is not to get a regiment, either.

The Fuehrer: Under certain circumstances he may not
even be able to command a squad, then it will be

Goering: Then he can stand guard. I have made that
proposition to generals of mine. I have said, I
cannot give them anything else.

The Fuehrer: Have the generals accepted that?

Goering: Some yes; some no.

The Fuehrer: And these?

Goering: These I will call in now under the more
stringent regulations. Up until now, I have given
them their choice, and have not drafted them.

The Fuehrer: What is he going to do then?

Goering: If there is nothing else, he will stand

The Fuehrer: As a general?

Goering: As a general.

The Fuehrer: Do you think that the cause will be
served better in this way?

Goering: During World War I this general proved
himself as a valiant battalion commander, was
discharged as a colonel, and has now been called in
again because he is needed.

The Fuehrer: In the world war no battalion commander
was discharged as a colonel.

Goering: As lieutenant colonel.

                                           [Page 708]

The Fuehrer: My regimental commander was a major,
then later he was given an acting rank, and only I
made him a colonel. In the world. war people were not
promoted at all. That was the poorest promotion

Goering: Some were promoted. But this one was given
the rank of an acting lieutenant colonel, and was
drafted as a lieutenant colonel, because he was
needed in some bureaucratic affair, and received
further promotions. Hitherto demotion has been
considered the greatest disgrace imaginable among
officers -- there is no doubt about it -- and this is
not being understood among us.

The Fuehrer: I too, am of the opinion; on principle
that must be done difTerently. It will have to be
done go that rank and appointment will be basically

Goering: That is right. Here I am entirely of your

The Fuehrer: For three years I have tried to go after
this. With the British this is basically so. If one
commands a division, he is division general, if he
commands a regiment, he is colonel, and if he
commands a battalion, he is a major. If he has for a
time, been commander of a regiment, he afterwards
goes back again.

Goering: Only a "Schweinehund" would take a demotion.
If he was not that, he would have shot and killed

The Fuehrer: That is no demotion.

Goering: If one has been a colonel, and is callied up
to serve as sergeant, that is a demotion. If he is
put into that rank, he can--

The Fuehrer: This is not to affect his emoluments.

Goering: I would simply throw the emoluments at his
feet and say: You are taking away my honor, and you
well know, that so far this has been considered the
greatest disgrace among officers.

The Fuehrer: In reality it is not so. That is your
conception. It was also considered a disgrace when I
promoted a man like lightning. It was considered a
disgrace among the officers when I promoted one Major
Remer immediately to colonel.

                                           [Page 709]

Goering: Certainiy not for him.

Burgdorf: If I, a general, should have to serve as a
major, I would prefer to do it in a major's uniform,
otherwise it would be a constant public defamation,
and everybody would know it.

Goering: You say that, because it does not apply to
you. Then do it. It would be a shining example.

Burgdorf: I am confident that I can still be used in
the capacity of my rank.

Goering: Then complete reconstruction will be
necessary. In this case it would be demotion without
judicial sentence.

The Fuehrer: It is no demotion. The man is not
demoted, he is only given a position which he really
can fill, which he had outgrown, without being able
to measure up to the new rank. Then it would be a
demotion also, if I draft the president of some
concern today, and he has to serve as a private.

Goering: No, he is not a professional officer, he did
not choose the profession of a soldier.

The Fuehrer: But the other one has chosen his
profession, and must be able to meet its
requirements. If he cannot do that, that is no

Goering: If he does not meet the requirements of a
president, he will be discharged.

The Fuehrer: Then he can no longer be president, but
perhaps be only plant manager.

Goering: Or somewhere else a travelling salesman.

Fegelein: It has always been like that with the
political leaders.

The Fuehrer: Fundamentally I am of the opinion, that
the British system is healthier. It says: Anyone who
commands a division is a division general, and if he
does not, he is not, and if a division general should
some day again command a regiment, then he is
regimental commander. In the "Reichswehr" we were, at
the time, of the opinion, the generals there were
never to command regiments and battalions, and
therefore we took off the old army insignia as
unsuited. We simply said, we will not wear uniforms,
just stars, so that a general at that time could also
command a battalion. We could not have done it any
other way.

                                           [Page 710]

Goering: With me a general had command ot a group.

The Fuehrer: Then what kind of insignia did these

Keitel: In the Reichswehr only stars.

Fegelein: Hausser was discharged as a major general
and then was a colonel with us.

The Fuehrer: Here is an example. I want to tell you
something right now. How many were discharged from
the army as generals, entered the Waffen-SS and
occupied subordinate positions.

Goering: They were not forced to do it.

The Fuehrer: What do you mean "not forced"? We stand
in a time of emergency today. The question is this: I
must think myself in the place of a company
commander. Such an officer is a lieutenant and able
to lead a company, but he has a colonel, who himself
is absolutely incapable to lead a company, because it
has been 25 years since he knew how. But he is now in
that company as a platoon leader, maybe not even
that, he is in it in his uniform. What sort of a
mottled affair are we going to have then? Does the
officer in charge of the company then salute his

Goering: It is a fundamental matter, which upsets and
overturns everything that has been existing hitherto,
an idea, which was inconceivable until now. To this
alone I call attention.

The Fuehrer: Anyhow, it is this way in the rest of
the world.

Goering: Not in the rest of the world. It's never so
in England. Therefore I made the suggestion, to
differentiate between rank and position.

Keitel: In the Volkssturm there have been no
difficulties so far.

Goering: No, not there. You said., in the
Reichswelir. Then you mean to say, that it had been
introduced by the Reichswehr, that some general, who
commanded a battalion, was only a major.

Keitel: Exactly. He did not wear a General's uniform
and the man was called battalion commander, and no
longer major, lieutenant colonel or general.

Goering: How long was that?

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