The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Seventh Day: Tuesday, 12th February, 1946
(Part 10 of 18)

MAJOR-GENERAL ZORYA: Mr. President, at a further stage in my statement I had intended presenting to the Tribunal a statement of General Buschenhagen, General of the former German Army. I do not, however, intend to do so now, since the Soviet prosecution has the possibility of examining this witness in Court during the session. I, On my part, request your permission to have this witness brought here for examination.

THE PRESIDENT: You wish to call him now?

MAJOR-GENERAL ZORYA: Yes, that would be convenient, in view of several technical reasons, and would facilitate the task of the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

(The witness takes the stand.)

THE PRESIDENT: What is your name?

THE WITNESS: Erich Buschenhagen.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.
(Witness repeated the oath in German.)


Q. Witness, will you tell the Tribunal when and where you were born?

A. I was born on 8th December, 1895, in Strasburg, in Alsace.

Q. Will you name your last military rank, please.

A. I was General in the Infantry in the German Army. My last appointment was that of General Commanding the 52nd Army Corps.

Q. Will you tell us please, did you 26th December, 1945, appeal to us in a statement in connection with the Helsinki trials?

A. Yes.

[Page 276]

Q. Do you confirm having made this statement?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. Will you please tell us what you know about the preparations made by Fascist Germany for attacking the Soviet Union?

A. At the end of December, 1940, in my position as Chief of the General Staff of the German forces in Norway, I was called to the O.K.H., where the then Chief of the General Staff, Colonel-General Halder, had a conference with the Chief of Staff of the Army Groups and the independent Armies, one of which was mine. At this conference we were informed of the O.K.W.'s Directive, the "Barbarossa" Plan, which were issued on 18th December, 1940. We were given in lectures the basic reasons for the intended operations against Soviet Russia.

From this directive I learned that troops of my army also would take part in this operation. Therefore, I was especially interested in one speech made by the Chief of Staff of the Finnish Army, Lieutenant-General Heinrichs, who was then also with the O.K.H. He spoke at that time about the military actions in the winter campaign between Finland and the Soviet Union. He drew a picture of the methods of warfare and the fighting value of the Soviet Army, and also of the Finnish troops.

General Heinrichs also had conferences with Colonel-General Halder at that time, in which I did not take part myself, but I assume that they were concerned with possible co- operation between the Finnish and German troops in case of a conflict between Germany and the Soviet Union. There existed since the autumn of 1940 a military agreement for co- operation between Germany and Finland, and the German Air Force had made arrangements with the Finnish General Staff for through passage from Northern Norway to the Finnish ports, for the transport of men and material. As the result of conferences, which the German Military Attache had held in Helsinki by order of the O.K.W., this passage was extended in the winter of 1940 to a general through passage of the German Armed Forces from Northern Norway to the Finnish ports. In order to supervise this passage, a German Army administration centre was set up in the main city of Lapland, Rovanjemi, and a German Army transport unit was transferred to the Arctic Strait of Rovanjemi and Petsamo- Rovanjemi. Furthermore, supply bases were installed along this Arctic Sea route and along the railroad which led from Rovanjemi to ports on the Finnish South coast.

In December, 1940, and January, 1941, I had, together with the O.K.W., discussions about details of the participation of troops from Norway, together with Finnish troops, in attacks against the Soviet Union.

Q. Had you occasion to negotiate with the Finnish General Staff about joint operations against the Soviet Union?

A. I did not understand the last question.

Q. Had you occasion to negotiate with the Finnish General Staff about joint operations against the Soviet Union?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Tell us, who instructed you to negotiate with the Finnish Government and what course did these negotiations follow?

A. I had orders and authorisations from the O.K.W. In February, 1941, I received -- after arrangements had been made for the participation of the troops from Norway, and Finnish troops -- I received the order to travel to Helsinki and to get in touch there, personally, with the Finnish General Staff and to discuss with them these operations from middle and Northern Finnish bases.

On 18th February, 1941, I reached Helsinki and on the two following days I had conferences with the Chief of Staff, General Heinrichs, his deputy, General Airo, and the Chief of Operations of the Finnish General Staff, Colonel Tapola. In these conferences we discussed the possibilities for operations from middle and Northern Finland, especially from the area around Kuusamo and

[Page 277]

Rovanjemi; also from the area of Petsamo, Northern Finland. These conferences led to an agreement.

After these conferences I travelled, together with the Chief of Operations of the Finnish General Staff, Colonel Tapola, to middle and Northern Finland in order to study the area of Urinsalmo-Kuusamo, the area east of Rovanjemi-Petsamo, the terrain, the possibilities for deployment and supply, and for operations from that sector. At these reconnaissance journeys, the local Finnish commanders were present. They ended on 28th February in Torneo, on the Finnish-Swedish border. In a final conference it was agreed that an operation from the area of Kuusamo and Helsinki and an operation from the area East of Rovanjemi in the direction of Basikamo would prove successful; that, on the other hand, the operations from Petsamo towards Rovanjemi would have considerable difficulty with the terrain. That was the end of my first series of conferences with the Finnish General Staff.

As a result of these discussions there was worked out by the German High Command of Norway a detailed plan for an operation from these areas. That plan was presented to the O.K.W. and gained its approval. The High Command of Norway then gave it the code name of "Blaufuchs."

In May, that is, on 24th May, I met the Finnish Chief of Staff Heinrichs, who had been invited to the Fuehrer's headquarters at Brandenburg, and flew with him to Munich. There I had with him and his Chief of the Operational Department of the Finnish General Staff, Colonel Tapola, a discussion in preparation for another conference at Salzburg.

On 25th May there was at Salzburg a conference between the O.K.W., Field Marshal Keitel, Colonel General Jodl on the one side, and on the other, General Heinrichs and Colonel Tapola, at which the basic plans for co-operation between German and Finnish troops were made.

After this conference I travelled, together with General Heinrichs, to Berlin. There we had further conferences at the Economic and Armament Office of the O.K.W. as to the delivery of material to the Finnish Army. There were also conferences with the General Staff of the Air Force, about the air war and the supply of materials for the Finnish Air Force.

General Heinrichs, after these discussions, also had a meeting with Colonel General Halder, at which I was not present.

For the third time I met, on 2nd June, the Finnish General Staff. In my statement of 26th December I said that this conference took place at the end of April or the beginning of May; that was a mistake. As a matter of fact it took place on 2nd June.

At these conferences, which again took place between General Heinrichs, General Halder, and Colonel Tapola, the details were worked out, such as the time-table, the schedule, measures of secrecy as to the Finnish mobilisation. There it was decided that the Finnish mobilisation should first take the form of reinforcement of the border patrols, and then the form of further enlistments for the military training of Reservists and Reserve officers; a decision was also reached about the deployment and formation of German-Finnish Forces in such a way that the main Finnish Forces, under the command of Field Marshal Mannerheim in the South, should operate together with the German Army Group "North," coming from East Prussia, in the direction of Leningrad and also towards the East of Lake Ladoga.

The other Finnish forces were to be under the command of General von Falkenhorst at the Rivers Ulo and Ulojoki. This army of Colonel General von Falkenhorst was to attack from three bases; a Southern group from the area of Kuusamo through Kerokienski against the Murmansk railway; the middle group East of Rovanjemi through Salla Kandalaksha, and finally a Northern group starting from around Petsamo against Murmansk.

[Page 278]

There was complete agreement on all these questions, and also there were details discussed about exchange of intelligence, about the use of Finnish means of transportation, and about questions of air warfare and the use of Finnish airports by the German Air Force.

After these discussions I returned to Germany, in order to work out their results and put them into action. Then again, on 12th or 13th July, I flew to Helsinki for the purpose of conferring with Lieutenant-General Erfurt, who was the German liaison officer with the Finnish Armed Forces. We met General Heinrichs at Helsinki and gave him a memorandum on the points which we had agreed upon in previous conferences. He agreed to these points, except for a minor detail. Then I turned over my duties as Liaison Officer with the Finnish General Staff to Lieutenant-General Erfurt, to take up my activities as Chief of General Staff of the German Army in Lapland.

Q. I should like to ask you a last question. If it is not too difficult for you, will you please indicate what was the exact character of these preparations of the O.K.W. and the Finnish General Staff. More especially, whether the preparation of any particular operation was discussed.

A. All agreements between the O.K.W. and the Finnish General Staff had as their sole purpose, from the very beginning, the participation of the Finnish Army and the German troops on Finnish territory in the aggressive war against the Soviet Union. There was no doubt about that.

If the Finnish General Staff, to the outside world, always pointed out that all these measures had only the character of defense measures, that was just camouflage. There was, from the very beginning, no doubt among the Finnish General Staff that all these preparations would serve only in the attack against the Soviet Union, for all the preparations that we made pointed in that same direction -- namely, the plans for mobilisation, and above all, the objectives for the attack. Nobody ever reckoned with the possibility of a Russian attack on Finland.

Since, for cogent military reasons, the operations for attack from Finnish territory could start only eight to ten days after the beginning of the attack against Russia, certain security measures were taken during and after the attack, but the whole formation and lining-up of the troops was for offensive and not defensive purposes. I believe you can see clearly from that, the aggressive character of all these preparations.

MAJOR-GENERAL ZORYA: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the French prosecutor wish to ask any questions?


THE PRESIDENT: Does the United States prosecution wish to ask any questions?


THE PRESIDENT: Do defendants' counsel wish to cross-examine?

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