The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
November 20 to December 1, 1945

Ninth Day: Friday, 30th November, 1945
(Part 3 of 9)

[COLONEL AMEN continues]

[Page 275]

Q. And what were they?

A. Foremost of all, the Polish intelligentsia, the nobility, the clergy, and, of course, the Jews.

Q. What, if anything, was said about possible co-operation with a Ukrainian group?

A. Canaris was ordered by the then Chief of the O.K.W., who stated that he was transmitting a directive which he had apparently received from Ribbentrop in connection with the political plans of the Foreign Minister, to instigate a resistance movement in the Galician part of the Ukraine, which should have as its goal the extermination of Jews and Poles.

Q. At what point did Hitler and Jodl enter this meeting?

A. Hitler and Jodl entered either after what I have just described took place, or towards the conclusion of this discussion, and Canaris had already begun his report on the situation in the West: that is to say, on the news that had come in in the meantime, regarding the attitude of the French army at the West Wall.

Q. And what further discussions took place then?

A. After this discussion in the private working carriage of the Chief of the O.K.W., Canaris left the coach and had a short talk with Ribbentrop, who, returning to the theme of the Ukraine, told him once more that the uprising or the resistance movement should be so arranged that all farms and dwellings of the Poles should go up in flames, and all Jews be killed.

Q. Who said that?

A. The Foreign Minister at that time, Ribbentrop, said this to Canaris. I was standing next to him.

[Page 276]

Q. Is there any slightest doubt in your mind about that?

A. No. I have not the slightest doubt about that. I remember with particular clarity the somewhat new formulation that "all farms and dwellings should go up in flames" because previously only terms like "liquidation" and "killing" had been used.

Q. Was there any note in Canaris' diary which helped to refresh your recollection on that point also?

A. No.

Q. What, if anything, was said on the subject of France?

A. On the subject of France a discussion took place in the carriage of the Chief of the O.K.W. Canaris explained the situation in the West according to reports he had received from the "Abwehr" intelligence service. Canaris described the situation by saying that in his opinion a great attack was being prepared by the French in the sector of Saarbrucken. Hitler, who had entered the room in the meantime, intervened, took charge of the discussion and rejected in a lively manner the opinion which Canaris had just expressed, putting forward arguments which, looking back now, I must recognise as factually correct.

Q. Do you recall whether, in the course of this conference, Ribbentrop said anything about the Jews?

A. During the conversation, which was taking place in the private conference coach of the Chief of the O.K.W., Ribbentrop was not present.

Q. Do you recall whether at any time in the course of the conferences Ribbentrop said anything about the Jews?

A. In this discussion, I repeat - the one that took place in the coach - no.

Q. For purposes of keeping the record straight, whenever you have referred to the Chief of the O.K.W., you were referring to Keitel?

A. Yes.

Q. Was the Wehrmacht ever asked to furnish any resistance for the Polish campaign?

A. Yes.

Q. Did that undertaking have any special name?

A. As it is recorded in the diary of my section, the name of this undertaking that took place just before the Polish campaign, was given the name "Himmler."

Q. Will you explain to the Tribunal the nature of the assistance required?

A. The matter in which I am now giving testimony is one of the most mysterious actions which took place in the atmosphere of the Abwehr office. Sometime, I believe it was the middle of August - the precise date can be found in the corresponding entry of the diary - Abwehr Section I, as well as my section, Abwehr Section II, were charged with the job of providing or keeping in readiness Polish uniforms and equipment, as well as identification cards, and so on, for the undertaking "Himmler". This request, according to an entry in my diary made by my aide-de-camp, was received by Canaris from the Wehrmacht Fuehrungstab or from the "Landesverteidigung" - National Defence.

Q. Do you know whence this request originated?

A. Whence the request originated I cannot say. I can only repeat how it reached us in the form of an order. It was, to be sure, an order on which we, the chiefs of sections concerned, already had some misgivings without knowing what, in the last analysis, it was about. The name Himmler, however, was eloquent enough. In the pertinent entries of the diary, expression is given to the fact that I asked the question why Mr. Himmler was to receive uniforms from us.

Q. To whom was the Polish material to be furnished by the Abwehr?

A. These articles of equipment had to be kept in readiness, and one day some man from the S.S. or the S.D. - the name is given in the official war-diary of the department - fetched them.

[Page 277]

Q. At what time was the Abwehr informed as to how this Polish material was to be used?

A. The real purpose, which we do not know in its details even to-day, was concealed from us, we did not learn it, though at the time we had a very understandable suspicion that something crooked was afoot, particularly because of the name of the undertaking.

Q. Did you subsequently find out from Canaris what in fact had happened?

A. The actual course of events was the following: When the first war-bulletin appeared, which spoke of the attack of Polish units on German territory, Pieckenbrock, who had the report in his hand, and read it, observed that now we knew what our uniforms had been needed for. the same day or a few days later, I cannot say exactly, Canaris informed us that people from concentration camps disguised in these uniforms had been ordered to make a military attack on the radio station at Gleiwitz. I cannot recall whether any other locality was mentioned. Although we were greatly interested, particularly General Oster, to learn details of this action, that is, where it had occurred and what had happened in detail - as a matter of fact we could well imagine it - we did not know for certain, and I cannot even to-day say exactly what happened.

Q. Did you ever find out what happened to the men from the concentration camps that wore the Polish uniforms and created the incident?

A. It is strange, this matter held my interest ever since, so much so that even after the capitulation, I spoke about these matters with an S.S. Hauptsturmfuehrer who was confined in the same hospital as I was, and I asked him for details on what had taken place. The man - his name was Burckel - told me, "It is peculiar, but even we in our circles only found out about these matters much, much later, and then what we did find out was only by implication. So far as I know," he said, "all members of the S.D. who took part in that action were presumably put out of the way; that is to say, were killed." That is the last I heard of this matter.

Q. Do you recall attending a meeting in 1940 at which the name of Weygand was under discussion?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you happen to recall the particular month in which this discussion took place?

A. The discussion took place in the winter of 1940, either November or December, if my memory does not deceive me. I have retained the precise date in my personal notes; in accordance with the wish and desire of Canaris.

Q. To the best of your knowledge and recollection, who was present?

A. At that time, we usually met at the conference, i.e., the three chiefs of sections and the Chief of the Ausland Section, the former Admiral Burckner.

Q. What were you told at this meeting by Canaris?

A. In this conversation Canaris told us that for a considerable time Keitel had put pressure on him to execute an action leading to the elimination of the French Marshal Weygand; and that I - that is to say, my section - would be charged with the execution of this task, as a matter of course.

Q. When you say "elimination", what do you mean?

A. Killing.

Q. What was Weygand doing at this time?

A. Weygand was, so far as I recall, at that time in North Africa.

Q. What was the reason given for attempting to kill Weygand?

A. The reason given was the fear that the unbeaten part of the French Army in North Africa might find in Weygand a point of crystallisation for resistance. That, of course, is only the main outline of what I still remember to-day. It may be that there were other contributing factors.

[Page 278]

Q. After you were so informed by Canaris, what else was said at this meeting?

A. This request, which was put to the military Abwehr openly and without restraint by a representative of the Armed Forces, was repudiated strongly and indignantly by all those present. I, myself, as the person most involved, since MY department was charged with the action, stated before all present that I had no intention of executing this order. My section and my officers are fighters but they are not a murderers' organisation or murderers.

Q. What then did Canaris say?

A. Canaris said: "Calm down. We'll talk it over later on."

Q. Did you then talk it over later with Canaris?

A. After the other gentlemen had left the room, I spoke alone with Canaris. Canaris told me immediately, "It is obvious that this order will not only not be carried out, but it will not even be communicated any further;" and so it happened.

Q: Were you subsequently questioned as to whether you had carried out this order?

A. At an audience that Canaris had with Keitel, at which I was present, I was addressed by the then Chief of the O.K.W., Keitel, on this subject. He asked me what had happened or what had been undertaken so far with regard to this matter. The date of this event is recorded in my notes, with Canaris' knowledge and with his approval.

Q. What reply did you make to Keitel?

A. Naturally I cannot recall the precise words I spoke, but one thing is certain; I certainly did not answer that I had no intention of carrying out this order. I could not do this, and did not do it; otherwise, I would not be sitting here to-day. Probably, as in many similar cases, I gave the answer that it was very difficult but whatever was possible would be done, or something of that sort. Naturally, I cannot recall my precise words.

Q. Incidentally, are you the only one of this intimate Canaris group who is still alive to-day?

A. I believe that I am at least one of the very few. Possibly Pieckenbrock is still alive; perhaps, Bentivigny, who, however, did not belong to the inner circle. Most of the others fell as a result of the events of July 20th.

COLONEL AMEN: I have another subject to take up now. I don't know if you want me to start in before recess.

THE PRESIDENT: We will continue until 12.45.

(Further examination of the witness by Colonel Amen.)

Q. In 1941 did you attend a conference at which General Reinecke was present?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was General Reinecke?

A. General Reinecke was at that time Chief of the General Army Office; that is to say, i.e., a member-office of the O.K.W.

Q. Do you recall the approximate date of that meeting?

A. It was roughly in the summer of 1941, shortly after the beginning of the Russian campaign; possibly in July.

Q. To the best of your knowledge and recollection, will you state exactly who was present at that conference?

A. At this conference, which is also recorded in the notes taken for Canaris, in which I participated as his representative, the following were present: General Reinecke as the presiding officer, ObergruppenFuehrer Muller, of the R.S.H.A., General Breuer representing the office in charge of prisoners of war, and I, as a representative of Canaris, i.e., "Ausland-Abwehr".

Q. Will you explain who Muller was and why he was at this meeting?

A. Muller was a Division Chief in the main office of Reichsecurity (R.S.H.A.) and took part in the session because he was responsible for the measures regarding the treatment of the Russian prisoners; i.e., the executions.

[Page 279]

Q. Will you explain who Colonel Breuer was and why he was there?

A. Colonel Breuer was in charge of matters relating to prisoners of war. I do not know in which precise front Organisation detachment he worked at the time. He took care of questions regarding prisoners of war within the O.K.W.

Q. What was the purpose of this conference?

A. The purpose of this conference was to examine the orders received so far, regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, and also to comment on, explain and give reasonable grounds for these commands.

Q. Did you learn from the conversation at this conference what the substance of these orders under discussion was?

A. Its content concerned itself essentially with two groups of measures that were to be taken. First of all was the killing of Russian commissars. Second was the killing of all those elements among the Russian prisoners of war who, according to a special segregation by the S.D., could be identified as Bolshevists or as active representatives of the Bolshevistic attitude toward life.

Q. Did you also learn from the conversation what the basis for these orders were?

A. The basis for these orders was explained by General Reinecke in its essential features as this: That the war between Germany and Russia was not a war between two States or two armies but between two attitudes toward the world, namely, the National Socialist and the Bolshevistic. The Red Army soldier was not to be looked upon as a soldier in the ordinary sense of the word, such as our Western opponents, but as an ideological enemy. That is, as an enemy-to-the- death of National Socialism, and he was to be treated accordingly.

Q. Did Canaris tell you why he had selected you to go to this conference?

A. Canaris gave me two or perhaps three reasons for ordering me to this session, although he was himself present in Berlin. First, he wanted to avoid a personal contact with Reinecke, whom he regarded as the prototype of the always willing National Socialist Generals and whom he personally considered very antipathetic. Secondly, he told me my guiding principle was to be to attempt through factual argument - that is to say, through appeals to reason - to oppose this brutal and senseless order, or at least to mitigate its evil effects as far as that might be possible. He selected me for tactical reasons also since, as department chief, he could by no means be as outspoken as I, who, thanks to my subordinate position, could use much stronger language.

Thirdly, he was well acquainted with my personal attitude, an attitude that I manifested, wherever practical, in my many trips to the front where I saw mistreatment of prisoners of war. This fact is also clearly recorded in my notes.

Q. Did Canaris and the other members of your group have a particular name for Reinecke?

A. Not only in our group but in other places, he was called the "small" or the "other Keitel".

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