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 6 of 9)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of State Secretary Paul Koerner]

[Page 19]

Q. You stated, in the beginning of your interrogation, that you would not give any testimony against your former superior, Reichsmarschall Goering, and that you regarded Goering as the last big man of the Renaissance; the last

[Page 20]

great example of a man from the Renaissance period; that he had given you the biggest job of your life and it would be unfaithful and unloyal to give any testimony against him; is that what you said?

A. Yes, that is more or less what I said.

Q. And that is still your answer?

A. Yes.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: No further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any other members of the prosecution wish to examine this witness?


Q. Perhaps you can remember, Witness, the conference of the political leaders in the occupied territories which took place on 6th August, 1942, under the chairmanship of defendant Goering.

A. I cannot remember what conference that could have been.

Q. Perhaps you can recall that, after this conference of 6th August, you circulated the minutes to all the Ministers. The appendix to these minutes showed how much foodstuff and other raw materials should be supplied to Germany by the occupied territories?

A. I cannot remember offhand.

Q. I shall put before you a document signed by you yourself which gives proof of this meeting.

A. Yes, I have read it.

Q. You remember that you circulated this document, do you not?

A. Yes.

Q. The document shows that certain figures were fixed as to how much food-stuff should be sent to Germany: 1,200,000 tons from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. From Russia, 3,000,000 tons of grain were to be sent to Germany, etc. Do you not consider such deliveries to be a spoliation of the occupied territories?

A. It was a matter of course that the occupied territories had to make every effort in contributing to the food supply. Quotas were imposed on the occupied territories which they could meet or, if they were not in a position to do so, they could subsequently ask for modifications.

Q. You said something about "squeezing out," I think?

A. No, I never talked of "squeezing out." I said it was a matter of course that the occupied territories had to contribute to the food supply with all means at their disposal.

Q. That the occupied territories had to contribute?

A. Yes.

Q. Had these occupied territories asked Germany to come and rule over them?

A. I did not quite get that question.

Q. I do not suppose you did. I now want to ask you another question in connection with this. You did not see that this was plunder, but do you not recall that Goering himself -

A. No, this could not have been plunder.

Q. Goering himself, at the same meeting, said in his address that he intended systematically to plunder the occupied territories; you do not remember his expression "systematically plunder"?

A. No, I do not know this expression.

Q. No, you do not remember. Perhaps you can recall that at the same meeting, when addressing the leaders of the occupied territories, he said to them, "You are sent there not to work for the welfare of the people you are in charge of, but you are sent there in order to squeeze out of that country everything possible." Do you remember these words of the defendant Goering?

[Page 21]

A. No, I cannot remember these words.

Q. You cannot remember?

A. No.

Q. And you do not recall a lengthy correspondence between Goering and Rosenberg in which Rosenberg insisted that all functions, relative to the economic exploitation of the occupied territories of the Soviet Union, should be taken away from the military economic offices and transferred to the Ministry headed by Rosenberg?

A. No, I do not recall such a letter.

Q. You do not know. In connection with this you do not remember that this correspondence did not lead to a final settlement of the question?

A. I do not know about this correspondence.

Q. You do not know anything, do you? In 1944 do you not recall that -

DR. STAHMER: I should like to point out the interpretation is rather incomplete and hard to understand; we ourselves do not fully understand the questions either.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I suggest that it is not my fault if the witness does not get all my questions.


Q. Do you not recall that in 1944, after the Red Army had driven the German troops from the Ukraine, Goering, wishing to shelve the question of the economic exploitation of the Ukraine, wrote to Rosenberg that it should be postponed until a more opportune time, and mentioned a second seizure of the Ukraine and other Soviet territories. Is that what he had in mind?

A. This is supposed to have happened in 1944?

Q. In 1944.

A. No, I cannot remember it.

Q. I shall not argue about it.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Evidently, Mr. President, you wish to adjourn now. I have a few more questions, but I assume it will be convenient to resume after the adjournment.


(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn at 4.30 to-day.


Q. Witness, I intend to hand you a document which is a letter addressed to you by the Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, dealing with problems in the Eastern occupied countries. This is Exhibit USSR 174. I want you to take notice of it and to recollect whether you have ever seen this letter before. You will see that this document begins with the words:

"Honourable Secretary of State and Dear Party Comrade Koerner!"
This letter deals with the unification of economic leadership.

A. I have taken note of this document. I definitely received it.

Q. You had received it, that is quite obvious. As is quite clear from this communication, the question is that of holding a special meeting under your leadership.

A. Yes.

Q. Therefore my conclusion is correct, that you were a very close assistant of the defendant Goering in the matter of the so-called unification of economic leadership?

A. Yes, at the conference mentioned.

Q. One last question. Do you confirm that the defendant Goering, as Plenipotentiary of the Four-Year Plan, was at the head of both the civilian and the

[Page 22]

military German organisations dealing with the economic exploitation of all the occupied territories, and that you were his closest assistant where these economic measures were concerned?

A. The conference mentioned in this document never took place. The problem of unification which arose from economic activities in the occupied countries was solved and we never held the conference.

Q. The problem was not solved by circumstances over which you had any control. It depended on the advance of the Red and Allied Armies. Am I right?

A. I have not understood the question clearly enough to answer it.

Q. You say that the question had been solved. I am asking you: Is it not a fact that the problem was not solved because of any circumstances dependent on yourselves? You were prevented by the Red and Allied Armies?

A. I believe that at the time this letter was sent there was no such influence felt. The question which has been raised, of the comprehensive organisation of economic matters in occupied territories, did not, as a fact, materialise because it was opposed by other influences and circumstances.

Q. I do not mean to discuss these causes with you at the present moment, but you have not yet answered my last question. I asked: Do you confirm that Goering, as Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, was at the head of both the civilian and the military German organisations dealing with the economic exploitations of all the occupied territories, and that you were his closest assistant?

A. As far as the exploitation of occupied countries is concerned, we cannot deal with it in this manner. The Four- Year Plan had the possibility of being applied to the occupied countries, but it was only done if it was absolutely necessary. In general it was concerned with internal problems, and those offices which, in the occupied countries, took care of economic matters were the military or civil agencies. In the East, Rosenberg was concerned with this only if there was a dispute between the military and civil authorities, or between departments at home. If there was a dispute or a disagreement the Four-Year Plan could be applied. The Reichsmarschall in those cases could make special decisions, but that was in very, very few cases, as, for instance, in the case of this conference that was mentioned to-day about occupied countries having to help supply foodstuffs for Europe. We had the right, as in the occupied territories, not only the East but also in the West, we introduced many new developments in the field of agriculture. In the West I can point out -

Q. What right are you discussing?

A. I speak of the right which Germany had to share in the economic production, because we introduced many new developments in these countries. I would like to point out that in the East, the regions which had been completely devastated, which had no seed, no machines, and with greatest difficulty ...

Q. Who gave that right to the Germans?

A. We speak of the right, once we have occupied a country and built it up, to share in the surplus, for all Europe knew what countries we had occupied, and we know the cares and problems that we encountered in the occupied countries.

Q. I asked you, where did the Germans get the right?

A. I am no jurist. Therefore I cannot answer the question.

Q. But you were talking about German rights.

A. I am only speaking of the natural right that, if we made any development, we could share in the profits of this development.

Q. After you had devastated these areas?

A. Germany did not devastate these areas, certainly not in any agricultural countries. We, in fact, instituted great developments. I remember, in the West, that some parts of France were completely devastated

[Page 23]

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, you are going too fast. Can you not see the light?

A. I beg your pardon.

In the West we made great developments; through such German organisations as the Reichsland we rebuilt these areas and repatriated French people to this territory, and gave them the possibility to function again as peasants and to share in the agricultural production of the country. In the East we found territories which, through the effects of the war, had been damaged greatly. There were no more machines existing. Everything had been taken away by the Russians, and all agricultural implements had been taken away. or had been destroyed. There we had to start in the most elementary and primitive ways to commence agriculture again.

But it was possible in the years of our occupation in the East to restore agriculture. German initiative and German machinery is to be thanked for this achievement.


Q. Did the German initiative also include, together with the restoration of agricultural measures and developments, a vast net of concentration camps which you established in the occupied countries? Was that also included in the extent of the German initiative?

A. I had nothing to do with that problem.

Q. But I am asking you this question.

A. And therefore I do not understand what you mean.

Q. You are not sufficiently informed on the question of concentration camps, but it would appear that you are quite well informed, or appear to be informed, on economic measures for the restoration of works in the occupied territories?

A. Naturally, I know quite a deal about the rehabilitation of agricultural areas.

Q. But you knew nothing about concentration camps?

A. That is correct. I was not concerned with these matters.

Q. You knew nothing about the fact that millions were being annihilated by the German occupational authorities?

A. No, I knew nothing about it.

Q. You really knew nothing about it?

A. I have only just found out about it.

Q. Only now?

GENERAL RUDENKO: I have no further question to ask.

BY DR. BOEHM (counsel for the S.A.):

Q. Witness, do you know that Heines was Chief of Police at Breslau?

THE PRESIDENT: I asked defendants' counsel at the end of the examination by Dr. Stahmer whether they wished to ask any questions, and they said they did not. Therefore, it is not your turn now to ask any questions.

DR. BOEHM: Mr. President In the interrogation by Mr. Justice Jackson a point arose which I did not know of before and which calls for comment. It concerns the Chief of Police, Heines. May I be allowed to put two or three questions to the witness so that the point in question may be clarified?

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. We hope you will not take too long.

DR. BOEHM: I will try to be brief, Mr. President. Thank you.


Q. Witness, do you know that Heines was Chief of Police at Breslau?

A. Yes.

Q. Further, do you know that in that capacity he was in charge of the prisons in Breslau?

A. Of course the Police Chief is in charge of prisons.

Q. Do you know whether at the time in question, when this camp was set up, the police prisons of Breslau were overcrowded?

[Page 24]

A. That I do not know. I mentioned the case of Heines only in connection with one of the camps which was set up without the permission of the Prime Minister or the Minister of the Interior.

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