The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Seventh Day: Tuesday, 12th February, 1946
(Part 3 of 18)

BY DR. SAUTER (counsel for defendants von Schirach and Funk):

Q. Yesterday you mentioned that you consider the Hitler Government as the guilty party. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. In your written deposition, which you made on 8th January, 1946, in a prison camp, there is nothing about that; at least, I have not found anything about it so far.

A. That letter has nothing to do with it. It is a letter to the Soviet Government, in which I explained several questions which concerned the Sixth Army in Russia, and mentioned several of my own experiences.

Q. In this letter of 8th January, 1946, you said explicitly and I quote:

"To-day, when the crimes of Hitler and his henchmen are being judged, I find myself obliged to tell the Soviet Government everything which I know, and which may serve as proof of the guilt of the war criminals in the Nuremberg Trial."
In spite of that, in this written declaration there is nothing about it.

[Page 261]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, if you cross-examine the witness on this letter, you must put the letter in evidence, the whole letter.

DR. SAUTER: That is the statement which the witness has given.

THE PRESIDENT: I have no doubt it is; all I say is, if you cross-examine him on the letter and put the letter to him, you must put the letter in evidence. You have a copy of the letter?

DR. SAUTER: Yes. It is in the statement which the Soviet prosecutor yesterday put up to the witness, and in regard to which the witness said that he confirms it and will repeat it.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I follow it. I was not sure whether it was actually put in or not or whether it was withdrawn upon the promise to produce the witness. Is the letter actually in?

DR. SAUTER: The witness said, after the prosecutor asked him, that he will repeat that statement. In fact, he has repeated it.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Willey, has the letter been put in?

MR. WILLEY: It has not been put in, no.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, you can go on cross-examining about it, but the document has got to be put in, that is all.


Q. Now I would like to know, Witness, what you mean by "Hitler Government"? Do you mean the Reich Cabinet, or what exactly do you mean?

A. I mean everyone who is responsible.

Q. I would like you to answer the question more precisely.

A. In my statement yesterday I explained only what I saw myself, and what I experienced myself. I did not intend to make any statements about individual personalities of the Government because that would not be within my knowledge.

Q. But you spoke about the Hitler Government, did you not?

A. I merely meant the concept of the Hitler Government.

Q. That means, first, the Reich Cabinet, does it not?

A. Yes, inasmuch as it is responsible for the directives given by the Government.

Q. For this reason I would like to know the following:

The defendant Funk, who is sitting over there, was also a member of the Reich Cabinet, and the defendant von Schirach is also considered a member of the Reich Cabinet by the prosecution. Do you know anything as to whether the defendant Funk and the defendant von Schirach, like you, for instance, knew anything about these plans of Hitler?

A. I do not know.

Q. Do you know whether during the war, while you were at the O.K.W., there were any meetings of the Cabinet at all?

A. I do not know that either.

Q. Do you know that Hitler, in the interests of secrecy of his war plans, even ordered that at conferences between himself and his military advisers members of the Reich Cabinet, as for instance, Funk, be not admitted?

A. I do not know about that.

Q. Did it not come to your knowledge, through Jodl or through Keitel, that Hitler even prohibited civilian members of the Reich Cabinet from being present at such military conferences?

A. I do not know anything about that.

Q. You know nothing about it. Another question. After Stalingrad was encircled and the situation had become hopeless, there were several telegrams of loyalty sent to Hitler from inside the fortress. Do you know anything about that?

A. If you speak of telegrams of loyalty, I only know about the end, when efforts were made to find any sense in the catastrophe that had happened there, to find any sense in the suffering and dying of so many soldiers. These things,

[Page 262]

then, had been depicted as heroism in the telegram, to be forever remembered. I am sorry that, at that time -- because of the whole situation -- I let that pass and did not stop it.

Q. These telegrams were sent by you?

A. I do not know to which telegrams you are referring with the exception of the last one.

Q. Several telegrams of loyalty, in which there was a promise to hold out to the last man; those telegrams about which the German people were horrified. They are said to have your signature.

A. I request to have them presented to me, because I know nothing about them.

Q. You do not know anything about them?

A. Not about these telegrams of which you speak, with the exception of the very last.

Q. Do you have any idea what was in the last telegram?

A. In the last telegram there was a short description of the achievement of the Army, and it was pointed out that it did not mean to capitulate, and this should be an example for the future.

Q. The result was your promotion to General Field Marshal?

A. I am not aware that that was the result.

Q. But you were promoted to Field Marshal, and you still have that rank, because the statement which I have submitted to the Tribunal is signed "Paulus, Field Marshal."

A. Well, I have to say... Do you mean this statement?

Q. Yes, this statement.

A. Yes, I had to take the rank which was conferred upon me.

Q. In this statement which I have submitted to the Court as proof, the last sentence is:

"I bear the responsibility for the fact that I did not give due attention to the execution of the Order of 14th January, 1943, concerning the surrender of the prisoners (namely, all Russian prisoners to the Russians), for the deaths which have resulted and, furthermore, that I could not do more about taking care of the prisoners."
I would like to hear your statement about the following: In that detailed letter why did you forget the several hundred thousands of German soldiers who were under your command, and who under your command lost their freedom, their health, and their lives? There is no word about that.

A. That is not the subject of this letter. This letter to the Soviet Government was concerned with what happened to the Russian population in the area of Stalingrad and to the Russian prisoners of war. At that time, of course, I could not say anything about my own soldiers.

Q. Not one word?

A. No, not here, because that had to be done at another time. Of course it is true that all the operational orders led to the terrible conditions of Stalingrad, in spite of my protests. About 20th January, as I said, I had made a report that conditions had reached such a measure of misery and of suffering through cold, hunger and epidemics as to be unbearable, and that to continue the fighting would be beyond human possibility. The answer given to me by the Supreme Command was: "Capitulation is impossible. The 6th Army will do its historic duty at Stalingrad until the last man, in order to make possible the reconstruction of the Eastern Front."

Q. And that is why you continued your efforts in the crime you have described, until the very end? According to your own statements, everything from the very beginning was clear to you as a crime?

[Page 263]

A. I did not say that it was clear to me as a crime from the very beginning. Later I had this impression, as a result of my experience at Stalingrad.

Q. Finally, I would like to know: Was it not clear to you from the very beginning, when you were charged with the development of plans for the attack on Russia, as a specialist for such tasks -- did you not know from the very beginning that this attack on Russia could be made only by violations of International Law, to which Germany was bound?

A. Yes, by violation of International Law, but not under those conditions which developed later.

Q. I asked whether it was clear to you that this plan could only be executed by violation of International Law?

A. It was clear that an attack of that kind could only be made by violation of the treaty which had existed with Russia since the autumn of 1939.

Q. I have no more questions. Thank you.

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