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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
12th March to 22nd March, 1946

Seventy-Ninth Day: Tuesday, 12th March, 1946
(Part 2 of 9)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of Colonel of the Air Force, Bernd von Brauchitsch]

[Page 5]

Q. Read the last sentence. Witness, I may be misinterpreting this. It does not say you were present but it does say that you gave them this information. I ask you to look at the last paragraph and say whether that is not true?

A. The last paragraph of this document above the signature can only refer to a conference which, if I remember correctly, took place in the late afternoon of 6th June in General Warlimont's quarters and which I have mentioned in my previous statement.

Q. I think I was confused about the two meetings and that these minutes do not show you to have been present. There was such a conference as Warlimont describes, but it was not the same conference at which Kaltenbrunner was present, is that correct?

A. Yes, that is correct. I only know of this one meeting in the late afternoon of 6th June between Warlimont and myself.

Q. And that is the conference to which he refers in the first paragraph?

A. No, the conference in the afternoon has nothing to do with the first paragraph which I just read, and has no connection with it.

Q. The third paragraph had no connection with the first meeting, you say?

A. Paragraph 3 has no connection with paragraph 1. I had no knowledge of paragraph 1. I mentioned before that I was given the task of conferring with the O.K.W. about the definition of acts which were to be considered as violations of International Law, and criminal acts.

Q. Let us ask it once more so we will have no misunderstanding about it. The conference referred to in paragraph 3 of Warlimont's minutes is a conference between you and him later that afternoon and had nothing to do with the Kaltenbrunner conference which was held earlier in the day.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, what was the situation in the beginning of 1944 with reference to the bombing of German cities?

A. The situation was that the air raids had increased in intensity and in the beginning of '44 they were very heavy.

Q. That was becoming very embarrassing to the Reichsmarschall, was it not?

A. Of course it was very unpleasant for the Air Force, because their defensive strength was too weak to stave off these attacks.

Q. They were being blamed somewhat and the Reichsmarschall was being blamed for the air attacks, was he not?

A. Of course, that goes without saying.

Q. The Reichsmarschall was in the embarrassing position of having assured the German people back in 1939 that they could be protected against air attacks on the German cities. You understood that fact, did you not?

A. I understand this to be the fact, but I also know that the conditions in 1939, which led to this statement, were entirely different from those of 1944, when the whole world was against us.

Q. But the fact was that German cities were being bombed and the German people had looked to the Reichsmarschall to protect them; is not that a fact?

A. It is clear that the German people expected the Air Force to use all available means to ward off these attacks.

Q. Now, what were the relations between Goering and Hitler at this time?

A. May I ask to have the question repeated? I did not understand it clearly.

Q. What was the relation between Goering and Hitler at this time? Was there any change in the relations as this bombing of German cities progressed?

A. The relations between the Reichsmarschall and the Fuehrer were no doubt worse than they had been before. Whether that was only due to the conditions caused by the air warfare is not known to me.

[Page 6]

Q. You were very close to Reichsmarschall Goering throughout this period, throughout the entire period of the war, were you not?

A. I do not know what you mean by close. The relations were those between a commander-in-chief and his adjutant.

Q. Well, you were particularly friendly; he had great confidence in you and you had great regard for him, is not that a fact?

A. I can confirm that, but unfortunately only on very rare occasions did the Reichsmarschall disclose his real motives.

Q. You were with him on 20th April, 1945, when he sent the telegram proposing to take over the government of Germany himself, and was arrested and condemned to death?

A. Yes, I was present at that time.

Q. And the S.S. seized you and the Reichsmarschall and several others and searched your houses, seized all your papers, and took you prisoner, did they not?

A. It is correct that on 23rd April at 19.00 hours we were surrounded. The Reichsmarschall was led to his room and from that moment on he was kept closely guarded; later we were taken into single custody. Finally we were separated from him altogether by S.S. troops stationed at the Berghof.

Q. And this occurred at Berchtesgaden?

A. It happened at Berchtesgaden.

Q. I think you have told us that you were all supposed to be shot by the S.S. at the time of the surrender and were supposed to approve it by your own signature. Is that correct?

A. No, that is not quite correct.

I know that an order existed that the Reichsmarschall and his family and his entourage should be shot in Berlin at the time of capitulation.

The second thing you mentioned refers to something else, namely, that we were to be compelled to volunteer for the S.S. I must say, to be just, that the S.S. leaders preferred us not to be there at that time, so that they would not have to carry out this order. We had already been separated from the Commander-in-Chief.

Q. What was the state of your knowledge about the activities of the S.S.? What was the S.S. and what was its relation to the Wehrmacht at this time? What was its relation to the Air Force? Tell us about the S.S.

A. I can only say this much, that S.S. was a comprehensive term, that the S.D., Gestapo, and Waffen S.S. were quite separate sub-divisions and that the Gestapo was an instrument of repression which restricted personal freedom.

Q. The Waffen S.S. likewise, is that not a fact?

A. The Waffen S.S. was a military force. I myself had neither trouble nor any friction with them.

Q. But what about the S.S. proper? Witness, you know the situation about the S.S., I am sure, and you impress me as wanting to tell us candidly what you know about this situation, and I wish you would tell us a little, what the influence of the S.S. was generally.

A. I point out once before that as a purely military adjutant I am able to give you information only about the Air Force, but I am not in a position to say anything about general things of which I have no expert knowledge, but merely personal opinions.

Q. Well, was not the S.S. the subject of a good deal of discussion among you officers, and was not everybody aware that the S.S. was an organisation like the Gestapo, which was repressive and cruel?

A. In the Air Force we had so many troubles of our own because of the growing air power of the enemy, that we had no time to worry about anything else.

Q. But you knew, did you not, about the campaign against the Jews of Germany and the Jews of occupied countries?

[Page 7]

A. I did not know about the campaign against the Jews as it has been presented here and in the Press.

Q. Well, I do not want to interrogate you on what is in the Press, but do you want the Tribunal to understand that you had no knowledge of a campaign against the Jews in Germany?

A. I only knew that some of the Jews were taken to ghettos. I had, however, no knowledge of the cruelties against Jews as now published in the Press.

Q. Your father was a Field-Marshal, was he not?

A. Yes.

Q. At what period was he Field-Marshal?

A . He held the rank of Field-Marshal from 1940 until now.

Q. He has never been deprived of his rank, is that a fact?

A. He was never deprived of his rank.

Q. There came a time when you father, as you know, disagreed with Hitler as to military programmes?

A. I know that my father had great difficulties with Hitler concerning political and military questions, and this led to his retirement in December, 1941.

Q. Did you not say to the interrogator who examined you for the United States that he retired from active command in 1941?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you understand to be the reason for his retirement?

You gave the reasons as follows, that neither in the military nor in the political considerations did he see eye to eye with Hitler, and could not come to any accord and, since he could not make his own opinions prevail, he desired to manifest his dissent by resigning, and that specifically also referred to religious questions.

A. Yes.

Q. That is true, is it not?

A. That is correct, and I still maintain it.

Q. I hope you are proud of it.

You were also asked this:

"From 1941 to the end of the war, do you know what he was doing?"
And you answered:
"Well, he had, through his second marriage, a little house in a small town in Silesia, Bockenheim, and he occupied himself with studies of family history and also with forestry, economics, and hunting, but did not take part - "
A (interposing). Only with questions of military history and with economic questions.

Q. I beg your pardon. I did not quite get that.

A. He was only interested in economic questions and hunting, but not in military questions.

Q. Not in military, yes.

"- but did not take part in any sort of bloody political endeavours."
You said that, did you not?

A. May I have the question repeated?

Q. This is your answer in full. You interrupted me. This is your answer to the interrogator:

"Well, he had, through his second marriage, a little house in a small town in Silesia, Bockenheim, and he occupied himself with studies of family history and also with forestry, economics, and hunting, but did not take part in any sort of bloody political endeavours."
And, with the exception of economics, you still stand by that answer, do you not?

[Page 8]

A. I have never said that he ever took part in bloody things. It must be an error. I never saw this record again. I did not sign it.

Q. I have not made myself clear. You said he did not take part in any bloody political endeavours. That is what this says you said.

A. He did not take part, but I have not said anything of a bloody movement.

Q. You did not use these terms in the examination?

A. No, I cannot remember having said that. I did not sign the interrogatory and I did not see it again after the interrogation.

Q. And you say that you did not use these words on 26th February, 1946, to Captain Horace Hahn, interrogator?

A. I say I did not use the words "part in any bloody endeavours," because this expression is foreign to me. Neither do I know in which connection it came up here.

Q. Well, you do not know of any that he did partake in, do you?

A. No; my father retired.

Q. Retired absolutely from this whole Nazi outfit - dissociated himself from them and retired to a little village rather than go on with the programme with which he disagreed. Is not that a fact?

A. Yes.

DR. PELCKMANN (counsel for the S.S.): I believe that I have no longer any formal right to question this witness after Justice Jackson has cross-examined him, but I should be grateful if I were permitted to do so since Justice Jackson questioned the witness also about the S.S.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness's statement about the S.S. was that he knew nothing about it. I said once before that I wish counsel before they go to the stand would learn how to use the earphones and to fix them correctly. What I said was this: The witness's evidence was that he did not know anything about the S.S. What ground does it give for a cross- examination by you?

DR. PELCKMANN: He was asked whether he was guarded by the S.S. on Obersalzberg, and that the S.S. had orders to shoot him and Goering too. I should like to have it made clear whether that was S.S. or S.D.



Q. I therefore ask the witness: Do you know whether these people whom you have just mentioned were members of the S.S. or S.D.? Do you know the difference, Witness?

A. I have a general idea of the difference. I believe that the troops which had the task of guarding us were S.S., but that the Sicherheitsdienst (S.D.) had the special order.

DR. PELCKMANN: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the other counsel for the prosecution wish to cross-examine?

Dr. Stahmer, do you wish to re-examine?

DR. STAHMER: I have only two short questions.


Q. Witness, can you tell us something about the relations between the Reichsmarschall and Himmler?

A. As far as I know and am able to give information, in their outward relations Himmler and Goering exercised the utmost circumspection, but there was no real personal contact between the two.

Q. Can you tell us whether the German people, until the last moment, still had confidence in the Reichsmarschall, and showed it on special occasions? Can you mention any particular instances?

A. I can mention two cases.

[Page 9]

The first one was at the end of 1944 or the beginning of 1945 - I cannot give the exact date - in a public air-raid shelter. The Reichsmarschall had no guards or escort and chatted with the people and they greeted him with the old slogan, "Hermann, halt die Ohren steif" ("Hermann, keep your chin up").

Another example was on the trip from Berlin to Berchtesgaden during the night of 20th April. In the morning or towards noon of the 21st the Reichsmarschall arrived at a town in Sudetengau, where he made a short stop for breakfast at an inn. After a while the market place became so crowded with people asking for his autograph that we could not get his car through the crowd. Here, too, he was greeted by the old shout, "Hermann."

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