The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Seventh Day: Tuesday, 12th February, 1946
(Part 11 of 18)


BY DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and High Command):

Q. Witness, in this trial a group of people is under indictment with the purpose of declaring it criminal. Included in this group, to put it briefly, are all the C.-in- C. of the Wehrmacht.

Did you ever know before the beginning of the attack against the Soviet Union that an order had been issued, according to which the captured Commissars had to be executed?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you at any time speak to your Commander-in-Chief, Colonel-General von Falkenhorst, concerning this order?

A. Yes.

Q. What opinion did General von Falkenhorst and yourself have about it?

[Page 279]

A. That this was a criminal order.

Q. Since this was your opinion, I would like to ask you whether, within your Army, this order was carried out?

A. Actually it was not carried out.

Q. For what reasons was it not carried out? Was it perhaps because the Commander-in-Chief, and you, Witness, were of the opinion that this order should not be carried out or because it would not have been practicable; for, as it is known, the Soviet Commissars fought until the last and fell and, in cases where they were captured, their papers, which showed them to be Commissars, had already been destroyed?

For what reason was this order not actually carried out?

A. Firstly, because of the view taken by General von Falkenhorst and myself, comments were added to it before it was passed on; in other words, we let the troops know that at heart we were not in agreement with it -- and we found our commanding generals showed a full understanding. Furthermore, because of the second reason given by you, since, as a matter of fact, not a single Commissar fell into our hands, as far as I can remember.

Q. Witness, do you know any other commanders who had the same attitude as you had with regard to this order?

A. No.

Q. Do you answer "no" because you did not speak to others?

A. I did not speak to others because in Norway I was so isolated from other Armies that I had no opportunity of doing so.

Q. Are you not of the opinion that the great majority of the Commanders-in-Chief had the same attitude concerning this order as you and your Commander-in-Chief?

A. I cannot answer that because I have no information from the others.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any other defendants' counsel wish to ask questions? General, do you wish to ask any questions in re- examination?

MAJOR-GENERAL ZORYA: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness will retire.

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