The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Twenty-Eighth Day: Monday, January 7th, 1946
(Part 8 of 10)

[COL. POKROVSKY continues]

[Page 31]

Q. I have asked: Can you actually and truthfully confirm that the measures taken by the Wehrmacht Command, in the District Administrative Areas then occupied by the Germans, were directed to the purpose of diminishing the Slavs and Jews by 30 million? Do you now understand the sentence?

A. I am of opinion that this method would have definitely led to the extermination of 30 million, had it been continued and had conditions not been changed by the eventual development of the situation.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I have no further questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Has the defence any questions?

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY DR. EXNER (Counsel for the General Staff of the O.K.W.):

Q. Witness, you said you were Chief of anti-Partisan Operations?

A. Chief of the anti-Partisan Combat Units.

Q. If such chaotic conditions really did exist, why did you not alter the system?

A. Because I was never given the requisite authoritative powers.

[Page 32]

Q. Why?

A. Because I was never given authoritative powers. I could not command, I had no disciplinary powers, and I was not an appointing authority.

Q. Did you make a report on existing conditions to your superior officer?

A. Every day. I had a permanent staff at Himmler's Headquarters.

Q. Did you suggest any changes?

A. Persistently.

Q. And why were these changes never realised?

A. I think I have already expressed myself quite clearly; I was of the opinion that these changes were not desired.

Q. You also, as you have previously informed us, reported to your superior authorities on the number of enemy dead, wounded and prisoners after each operation. Tell me; what, approximately, was the proportion of enemy prisoners to the enemy dead?

A. The figures varied from case to case. You cannot cram both feet into the same shoe. It was a fact that prisoners far outnumbered the dead, although this certainly was not the case in the years when orders were given that no prisoners should be taken.

Q. The system was harsher at first, you say, and milder later on?

A. Yes, it was milder in a way, since now we received definite orders where the prisoners were to be deported and to whom they were to be handed.

Q. Can you name orders which you received from any military authorities directed to or aiming at the annihilation of 30 million Slavs?

A. I have already answered the question when I stated that no such orders were ever issued in writing.

Q. Do you know that the reports which you submitted to Himmler concerning the actions you had carried out were re- submitted by Himmler directly to the Fuehrer?

A. May I be rather more explicit in replying? At first I had a permanent staff at Himmler's headquarters. My Chief of Staff was there permanently when I was at the front. Between the Wehrmacht offices, i.e. O.K.W., O.K.H. and my own staff, there was a constant interchange of reports. It was not as if reports on Partisan activities always reached me in the first instance, since areas existed which were under the direct supervision of the O.K.H. This means that the Wehrmacht reported just as freely to us as we reported to the Wehrmacht. After these reports had been collected by my staff from day to day, they were passed up to Himmler, who forwarded them on again.

Q. To whom?

A. The Chiefs of the Wehrmacht. They have already confirmed to me, in captivity, that these reports reached them.

Q. Did Jews participate in the Partisan Groups?

A. It was undeniable that in individual Partisan Groups Jews did participate, commensurate in number to the number of the Jewish population.

Q. In individual groups? Was it not more in the nature of an exception?

A. Yes, it was definitely in the nature of an exception.

Q. I do not therefore quite understand why actions taken against the Partisans should lead to the extermination of the Jews.

A. I did not say that. We have been talking about the question of the Einsatz groups.

Q. Tell me, do you know the Dirlewanger Regiment? Do you remember that?

A. That is the Dirlewanger Brigade, as I explained to the prosecutor a short time ago.

Q. Was that Brigade at any time under your command?

A. Yes, in 1941.

Q. Was it a formation of the Army or of the S.S.?

[Page 33]

A. No. It was not a formation of the Waffen S.S.; it was provided by the General S.S., i.e., Amt. Berger.

Q. Can you tell me who was present at Himmler's speech?

A. There were about 12 S.S. Gruppenfuehrer present.

Q. Were any officers of the Wehrmacht present?

A. No.

DOCTOR EXNER: Thank you very much.

BY PROFESSOR DOCTOR KRAUS (Counsel for defendant Schacht):

Q. On the 18th of August, 1935, you were present, in Konigsberg, when the former President of the Reichsbank, Schacht, made a speech at the "Ostmesse" (Eastern Fair)?

A. Yes.

Q. What was your profession at that time?

A. I was Oberabschnittsfuehrer.

Q. Were you present at the speech in your professional capacity?

A. Yes, as Oberabschnittsfuehrer of the S.S.

Q. You suddenly left the room in the middle of the speech as a protest?

A. Yes, in the middle of the speech I left the room.

Q. As a protest?

A . That is so.

Q. Then you did not agree with the speech?

A . I did not leave on account of the speech but as a protest against the contents of the speech.

Q. May I ask, why you protested?

A. It is a well-known fact that I had, in East Prussia, conducted a violent campaign against the then Gauleiter Koch, which led to his suspension. Koch and I were so bitterly opposed to each other that I could not understand why Reichsminister Schacht should pay compliments to this man, this man whom I knew to be corrupt, and, God knows, this is scarcely a reason for complimenting any one.

Q. I still do not understand. Were you protesting against Schacht or against Koch?

A. I think Herr Schacht must have known that this was a protest against Koch. In any case I had the matter explained to him later on, and finally we reached an agreement through mediators.

Q. Witness, you have said that a change came into the treatment of the Partisans. You said it was ordered, that these Partisans were to be placed at the disposal of the Labour Service. Where did this order originate?

A. I cannot tell you that in detail, I only know that Sauckel himself travelled in the Eastern zone, made long speeches and said it would be best if Partisan prisoners were placed at the disposal of the Labour Services.

Q. I asked where this order originated. Did it originate with Himmler or, as you have said, with the Sauckel Organisation?

A. No. Not the Sauckel Organisation, who could never issue orders in connection with the Partisans. I presume that Sauckel himself instigated the orders but that they originated with Himmler or the O.K.W. I no longer know.

Q. What do you know of the existence of the Sauckel Organisation? What did it consist of?

A. It was generally known that this organisation existed for the purpose of introducing manpower into the Reich for work in the armament industry.

Q. I did not refer to it in the sense of a definite organisation; that is not what I meant. I apologise. This was merely a lapsus lingua.

Then you did not know that Sauckel had an organisation of his own and that this organisation controlled the entire impressment of labour and the entire administrative machine?

[Page 34]

A. No, I know nothing at all about it.

THE PRESIDENT: I want the attention of the defendant's counsel. What I want to say is that unless counsel and the witnesses speak slowly (is that coming through? Can you hear me now?) and make adequate pauses between the questions and the answers, it is impossible for the interpreters to interpret properly, and the only result is that the questions and answers do not come through to the Tribunal, nor do the defendants' counsel get the benefit of the true meaning of the answers which have been given in the examination-in-chief, and everything that you may think you gain by rapidity of cross-examination, you lose by the inadequacy of the translation. I will repeat, that you should pause at the end of your sentences and at the end of your questions, so as to give the interpreter's voice time to come through.

BY DR. STAHMER (Counsel for defendant Goering):

Q. Witness, you have said that from 1942 onwards you were Chief of the anti-Partisan Groups. As such, it was your duty to fight the Partisans in the East?

A. Yes, that is true, to fight the Partisans.

Q. Now, did you say that there was a certain lack of clarity as to what should be understood by the term "Partisan"; the concept of "Partisan" had been nebulous during the entire period. Is that correct?

A. In the essential meaning, yes. In my opinion a distinction should have been drawn between Partisan and Partisan suspects. Troops did not always understand this distinction. A Partisan was a man carefully selected and trained by the enemy. He was also very well armed. I always insisted that special emphasis be laid on this concept and that it should not be said indiscriminately, if fire opened from a wood, a house or a village, that everyone present was a Partisan. This idea does not apply, since Partisans wanted to disappear rapidly after a successful action; they relied on the element of surprise.

Q. Now, what did you do in a positive way in order to clarify this concept of "Partisan"?

A. As I have previously said, ever since 1941, even before I was Chief of the anti-Partisan Forces, not only I but also General Schenkendorff, handed in a continuous number of memos suggesting how to combat these gangs. For instance, we submitted such memos repeatedly to the Central Army Group; we organised schools on the Partisan fighting in Russia. Schenkendorff and I, together, worked out a series of regulations on Partisan fighting. These were never published. Immediately after I was appointed Chief of the anti-Partisan Forces, that is, in the beginning of 1943, my staff took up its work and prepared another series of regulations for Partisan fighting. It was, however, some months before these regulations were finally published, in 1944, when it was really already too late.

Q. Who published these regulations?

A. These regulations were published as a Wehrmacht regulation in 1944.

Q. What were their contents?

A. They were entitled "Bandenbekampfungsvorschrift" (Regulations for the Fighting of Partisans).

Q. What were their contents?

A. They referred to Partisan warfare, to reconnaissance, both small- and large-scale reconnaissance, and to methods of carrying on the fight and so forth.

Q. These regulations appeared not earlier than 1944. Having to conduct the fight against Partisans in the entire East, was it not your duty to inform your forces how they should behave?

A. First of all I had no authority to issue commands. I have already said so. I could only make suggestions. Secondly, there were never any definite anti-Partisan forces. Any kind of formations might be assigned to this job according

[Page 35]

to circumstances. It is wrong to assume that I had troops whose only purpose was the fighting of Partisans. I should like to emphasise that the document appointing me Chief of the anti-Partisan forces stated: Authorised to fight the Partisans is only either the Higher S.S. or Police Officer, or the competent Wehrmacht commander. I myself, in that regulation, simply had the character of an Inspector, in spite of my continuous request for authority to issue commands.

THE PRESIDENT: You must go slowly and you must pause between your sentences.

Q. As General of the Waffen S.S. you must have had power to issue commands?

A. I only had authority to issue commands when I conducted an undertaking personally.

Q. But you were appointed for the fighting of Partisans and therefore you must have had combat units?

A. No, I had no such units.

Q. But then with what did you conduct your fight against the Partisans?

A. According to circumstances, I went to the respective Commander-in-Chief and discussed with him the problem at stake, and requested the necessary troops, unless they were given to me, as it often happened, by the O.K.W. or the O.K.H. directly.

Q. You requested troops. Those troops assigned to you were under your command therefore?

A. As I said before, only when I personally conducted the undertaking. Either the respective General of the Wehrmacht or, in the field of Civil government, the Higher S.S. Police Leader were in command. It was expressly noted in the regulations for the fighting of Partisans that I could only request authority to issue commands where the competence of the Higher S.S. Police Leaders or of two Wehrmacht Commanders overlapped, thus making necessary a Higher Command for the handling of the difficulties.

Q. Did you ever conduct an action personally?

A. I did so in the year 1943.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.