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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th February to 26th February, 1946

Fifty-Ninth Day: Thursday, 14th February 1946
(Part 5 of 15)


[Page 10]

The Navy regulations regarding prisoners of war remain in force for all but Soviet prisoners, and where the Soviet prisoners were concerned:-
"The regulations of the O.K.W." Section for Prisoners of War which I have already mentioned remain in force."
Thus, whenever this subject arises, absolute agreement exists between the Party Leaders and the O.K.W.

I stress the circumstance and I would remind you that all this happened in the country whose representative had declared as far back as 1902:-

"The only purpose in capturing prisoners of war is to prevent their further participation in the war. Although prisoners of war lose their freedom, they do not lose their rights. In other words, captivity is not an act of mercy on the part of the conqueror. It is the right of the disarmed soldier."
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, we have had that document read to us more than once.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I am not re-reading it. I am merely recalling its contents.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you must give the Tribunal credit for some recollection. As I say, that document has been read more than once before.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: We have at our disposal an official note signed by Lammers. This document is registered as 073-PS. We submit it to the Tribunal

[Page 11]

as Exhibit USSR-361 - it has not yet been read into the record. The document states (you will find this excerpt on Page 191 of your document book):-
"1. Prisoners of war are foreigners.... Influencing them is the task of the Propaganda Ministry of the Foreign Office."
I omit a few sentences.
"Excepted from this ruling are the Soviet prisoners who are placed under the control of the Reich Minister for the Occupied Territories of the East because the Geneva Convention is not valid for them and because they have a special political status."
In this connection, I wish to submit to you, as Exhibit USSR 356, another German document.

It consists of notes composed at the Headquarters of the Foreign Counterintelligence Office on the 15th November, 1941, for the "O.K.W. Chief of Staff." I will read into the record a few extracts, of which you will find the opening lines on Page 192 of your document book.

"The Geneva Convention regarding prisoners of war does not apply as between Germany and the USSR. Therefore, the only rules in force are the principles of general International Law regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, which since the 18th century have so developed that war captivity represented neither revenge nor punishment, but a security measure, the sole object of which was to prevent prisoners from further participating in the war. This principle developed in connection with the prevalent opinion that, from a military standpoint, the killing or wounding of prisoners was inadmissible. In addition, it is to the interest of each belligerent to be assured against ill-treatment of its soldiers in case of their capture. Appendix I states the directives, based on different premises as can be seen at the beginning of this paragraph, concerning the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war."
To save time I will omit several sentences and will read the end of the paragraph into the record:-
"...and, in addition, eliminated much which from past experience was considered not only as useful from a military viewpoint but as indispensable to the maintenance of discipline and high striking power."
The orders are drawn up in very general terms. But, if we bear in mind the ruling basic tendency, it is clear that the "measures" permitted by these orders are bound to result in wanton and unpunished murder, even though, officially, the law of violence had been abolished.

This is obvious from the directive regarding the use of weapons by guards and their commanding officers on such recalcitrant prisoners who spoke a language the guards could not understand. Whether the prisoners' disobedience was due to recalcitrance or to a misunderstanding of the orders issued could in many cases not be established. The fact that the basic directive justified the use of arms against the Soviet prisoners as a rule absolved the guards from any necessity of explaining their behaviour.

Omitting two paragraphs not directly relating to this matter, I quote as follows:-

"The organisation of camp police equipped with clubs, whips, and similar weapons, even in camps where all labour is done by the prisoners, is against military rule and tradition. In addition the military authorities thus give into other hands the means for applying punishment without providing adequate control as to how these means are employed."
I wish to quote one more sentence taken from Paragraph 5 of these notes (you will find it on Page 194):-
"Appendix II contains a translation of the Russian decree regarding

[Page 12]

prisoners of war which is in accord with the basic principles of International Law as well as with the rules of the Geneva Convention."
I will refrain from quoting the rest of the document as it is of little interest. This document is signed by the Chief of the Foreign Counter-Intelligence Service, Admiral Canaris. It includes directives containing instructions relating to the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war, dwelling in detail on such sections which Canaris considered as violations of the basic principles of International Law and of the Geneva Convention.

I would like to supplement this document with a few excerpts from the minutes of the interrogation by Dr. Wengler, a former counsellor of the Foreign Judicial Section "abroad" of the O.K.W. This document is submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 129. Wengler was questioned by me on 19th December, 1945, and his testimony is important for purposes of evaluating the line of conduct both of the O.K.W. and Keitel him

self. DR. NELTE (Counsel for defendant Keitel): Mr. President, I ask that the document, Exhibit USSR 129, which the Russian prosecutor intends to read, should not be read, but that the witness mentioned in this document, Dr. Wengler, be called personally to testify in Court, if the Soviet prosecution is willing.

This document is a record of an interrogation of Dr. Wengler, who was active in Counter-Intelligence in the O.K.W. It is a question of determining whether the non- application of the Geneva Convention as regards Russia is the fault of the German Government, the O.K.W., and the Defendant Keitel. I do not need to state that the clarification of this question is of the utmost significance in judging the responsible persons, not only because of the Counts in the Indictment, but because of the terrible guilt in face of the German people, if the testimony given by this witness should be true.

The witness was interrogated in Nuremberg on 19th December, 1945. Whether he is still here or in Berlin - he gave his address at the time of the inquiry - I cannot say. But I do believe that the Tribunal's interpretation of Article XXI of the Charter will justify my request in this respect since, firstly, the summoning of the witness from Berlin does not entail great difficulties, secondly we are concerned with a question of such tremendous significance, even in this setting, that the personal testimony and interrogation by this Tribunal should not be replaced by the mere lecture of the minutes of an inquiry.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you anything you wish to say in answer to that objection?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: With your permission I should like first of all, in order to clarify the matter, to ask where the witness actually is at the present moment? He is not in Nuremberg. He was brought here especially for this interrogation under the greatest technical difficulties. The interrogation was conducted according to all the rules of our judicial proceedings, so that this document could be submitted to the Tribunal and accepted as evidence, if the Tribunal so judges, according to Article XIX of the Charter. All the problems concerning this subject, and which were of interest to the Soviet prosecution, are already sufficiently clear from this document, which we submit to you, and I see no possibility of having this witness brought here in the near future. Maybe the representatives of the defence Counsel imagine that it is very easy to produce him, but I do not see any technical possibility of bringing him here a second time. And I repeat that, if the Tribunal does not consider it feasible to accept this document in the suitable manner in which we have formulated it, then we would even agree to refrain from submitting it as evidence. We do not consider it possible to bring the witness here a second time. That is all I have to say in reply to this request.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you say that you could not bring the witness here,

[Page 13]

and that as you could not bring him here you would not press the introduction of the document?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: No, I put it differently, I said that we insist that this document be admitted, since the Tribunal has the right, according to Article XIX the Charter, to accept this document as evidence. But if we were to choose between two possibilities, either by adding this evidence to the record or by summoning the witness a second time, the technical obstacles which prevent us from taking the latter course would compel us, by preference, to accept the exclusion of this document from the record, in order to avoid any repetition of the difficulties already experienced. We consider that the document is quite correctly compiled, in accordance with all the rules of the Charter, and that the Tribunal should receive it as evidence according to Article XIX of the Charter.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to know first of all, why is it difficult or impossible to bring the witness to Nuremberg in the same way that he was brought to Nuremberg on December, 1945; and secondly, has Dr. Nelte and have the other defendants' counsel got full copies in German of the document?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Dr. Wengler was interrogated in German, his native tongue. The original of his record, of his interrogation, has been submitted to the Tribunal in an adequate number of copies, which are at the disposal of the defence counsel.

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