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

Eighty-Seventh Day: Thursday, 21st March, 1946
(Part 8 of 10)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues his cross examination of HERMANN WILHELM GORING]

[Page 319]

Q. Well, let us be a little more precise. Germany wanted the Crimea to become a Reich territory. Is that correct?

A. The Fuehrer wanted the Crimea, yes, but that was an aim fixed before the war. The same applies to the three Baltic States, which had previously been taken by Russia. They, too, were to go back to Germany.

Q. Pardon me. You say that the question of the Crimea arose even before the war, that is, the question of acquiring the Crimea for the Reich. How long before the war was that?

A. No; before the war the Fuehrer had not discussed the territorial aims with us, or rather, which territories he had in mind. At that time, if you read the record, I myself considered the question premature and I confided myself to more practical matters during that conference.

Q. I would like to be still more precise. You state that with regard to the Crimea there was some question about making the Crimea Reich territory.

A. Yes, that was discussed during that conference.

Q. All right; with regard to the Baltic provinces, there was talk about those, too?

A. I have just told you that, yes.

Q. All right. With regard to the Caucasus, there was talk about annexing the Caucasus also?

A. It was never a question of it becoming German. We merely spoke about very strong German economic influence in that sphere.

Q. So the Caucasus was to become a concession of the Reich?

A. Just to what degree obviously could not be discussed until after a victorious war. You can see from the record what a mad thing it is to discuss, a few days after a war has broken out, the things recorded here by Bormann, when nobody knows what the outcome of that war will be and what the possibilities are.

Q. Therefore, by "exaggeration" you mean that the Volga territory, for instance, was not discussed.

A. The exaggeration lies in the fact that at that time things were discussed which you could not discuss usefully at all. At the most you might have talked about territory which you occupied and its administration.

Q. We are now trying to establish the facts, namely, that those questions had been discussed and these questions came up at the conference. You do not deny that, do you?

[Page 320]

A. There had been some discussion, yes, but not as recorded in these minutes.

Q. I would like to draw just one conclusion. The facts bear witness that, even before this conference, aims to annex foreign territories had been fixed in accordance with the plan prepared months ago. That is correct, is it not?

A. Yes, that is correct, but I would like to emphasise that in these minutes I steered away from these endless discussions, and here the text reads:

"The Reichsmarschall countered this, i.e., the lengthy discussion of all these things, by stressing the main points which were of vital importance to us, such as, securing of food supplies, in so far as necessary to the economy, securing of roads, etc."
I just wanted to reduce the whole thing to a practical basis.

Q. Just so. You have contradicted yourself, inasmuch as in your opinion the most important thing was the food supply. All the other things could follow later. It says so in the minutes. Your contradiction does not lie in your objection to the plan itself but in the sequence of its execution. First of all you wanted food and later territory. Is that correct?

A. No, it is exactly as I have read it out, and there is no sequence of aims. There is no secret.

Q. Please read it once more and tell me just where you disagreed.

A. "After the lengthy discussion about persons and matters concerning annexation, etc., opposing this, the Reichsmarschall stressed the main points which could be the decisive factors for us: securing of food supplies, in so far as necessary to the economy, securing of roads, etc. - communications" - at the time I mentioned railways, etc. - that is, I wanted to bring this extravagant talk - such as might take place in the first flush of victory - back to the purely practical things which must be done.

Q. It is understandable that the securing of food supplies plays an important part. However, the objection you just gave does not mean that you objected to the annexation of the Crimea or the annexation of other regions, is not that correct?

A. If you had been speaking German, then, from the sentence which says, "opposing that, the Reichsmarschall emphasised . . ." you would understand everything that is implied. In other words, I did not say here, "I protest against the annexation of the Crimea," or, "I protest against the annexation of the Baltic States." I had no reason to do so. Had we been victorious, then after the signing of peace we would in any case have decided how far annexation would serve our purpose. At the moment we had not finished the war, we had not won the war yet, and consequently I personally confined myself to practical problems.

Q. I understand you. In that case, you considered the annexation of these regions a step to come later. As you said yourself, after it was won you would have seized these provinces and annexed them.

A. As an old hunter, I acted according to the principle of not dividing the bear's skin before the bear was shot.

Q. I understand. The bear's skin should be divided only when the territories were seized completely, is that correct?

A. Just what to do with the skin could only be decided definitely after the bear was shot.

Q. Luckily, this did not happen.

A. Luckily for you.

Q. And so, summing this up on the basis of the replies which you gave to my question, it has become quite clear, and I think you will agree, that the war aims were aggressive.

A. The one and only decisive war aim was to eliminate the danger which Russia represented to Germany.

[Page 321]

Q. And to seize the Russian territories.

A. I have tried repeatedly to make this point clear, namely, that before the war started this was not discussed. The answer is that the Fuehrer saw in the attitude of Russia and in the lining up of troops on our frontier a mortal threat to Germany, and he wanted to eliminate that threat. He felt that to be his duty. What might have been done in peace, after a victorious war, is quite another question, which at that time was not discussed in any shape or form. But to reply to your question, by that I do not mean to say that after a victorious war in the East we would have had no thoughts of annexation.

Q. I do not wish to return to the question of the so-called primitive war, but nevertheless, since you touched on the subject, I would like to ask you the following.

You remember the testimony of Field-Marshal Milch, who stated that neither Goering nor he wanted war with Russia. Do you remember that testimony of your witness, Field- Marshal Milch?

A. Yes, perfectly.

Q. You do remember. In that case, why did you not want war with Russia, when you saw the so-called Russian threat?

A. Firstly, I have said, already that it was the Fuehrer who saw the danger to be so great and so imminent. Secondly, in connection with the question put by my defence counsel, I have stated clearly and exactly the reasons why I believed that the danger had not yet become so imminent, and that we should take other preparatory measures first.

Q. But you do not deny the testimony of your witness?

A. Milch held a somewhat different opinion from mine. He considered it a serious danger to Germany because it would mean a war on two fronts. He was not so much of the opinion that Russia did not represent a danger, but he held that in spite of that danger one should take the risk and not use attack as a preventative measure against that danger. I, too, held the same opinion, but, of course, at a different time.

Q. On the basis of your replies to questions during several sessions, it appears there was no country on earth which you did not regard as a threat.

A. The other countries did not represent a danger to Germany, but I personally, from 1933 on, always saw in Russia the greatest threat.

Q. Well, of course, by "the other countries" you mean your allies, is that right?

A. No, I was thinking of the other countries. If you ask me again I would say that the danger to Germany lay, in my opinion, in Russia's drive towards the West. Naturally, I also saw a certain danger in the two Western countries, England and France, and in this connection, in the event of Germany being involved in a war, I regarded the United States to be a threat also. As far as the other countries were concerned, I did not consider them to be a direct threat to Germany. In the case of the small countries, they would constitute a direct threat, if they were used by the large countries as bases in a war against Germany.

Q. Naturally, the small countries did not represent the same threat because Germany already occupied them.

A. No, a small country, as such, does not represent a threat, but if another large country uses the small one against me, then the small country, too, can become a danger.

Q. I do not want to discuss the thing further as it does not relate to the question. The basic question here is Germany's intentions with regard to the territory of the U.S.S.R., and to that you have already answered quite affirmatively and decisively. I shall go on to the next question.

Do you admit that as the trustee of the Four-Year Plan you were in full charge of the working out of plans for the economic exploitation of all the occupied territories, as well as the realisation of these plans?

[Page 322]

A. I have already admitted that I assumed responsibility for the economic policy in the occupied territories and the directions which I had given for the exploitation of those territories.

Q. Can you tell me how many million tons of grain and other products were exported from the Soviet Union to Germany during the war?

A. I cannot give you the figures. How could I know that from memory? But I am sure it is by no means as large as it was stated here.

Q. On the basis of your own documents I have the figures, but we will pass on to that question later.

I would like to return to the same conference which has already been mentioned. You remember the document submitted by the Soviet prosecution, concerning the conference of 6th August, 1942, Exhibit USSR 170? On 6th August, 1942, there was a conference of commissars of the occupied regions and of the representatives of the Military Command. You stated at this conference - and I would like to remind you of some of the things you said.

A. May I have a look at these minutes?

Q. You want to see the minutes of the meeting? Certainly. It is quite a long document. It might take too much time to read the whole thing. I will ask you to look only at Page 111 of this stenographic record - the place is marked with pencil - especially the citations which I am going to quote here. On Page 111 it states:

"Gentlemen: The Fuehrer has given me general powers on a scale such as he has never given hitherto under the Four- Year Plan. He has also empowered me - "
A. Just one moment. Would you omit "under the Four-Year Plan"?

Q. Yes. I knew that. Evidently the translation has not reached you. I mentioned the Four-Year Plan.

"He has given me additional powers reaching into every branch of our economic structure, whether it be inside the State, the Party or the Armed Forces."
Is it correct you were given such exclusive rights and prerogatives as mentioned in the dictation.

A. When the Four-Year Plan was formulated I received extraordinary general powers. For the first time unlimited power was given to me in the economic sphere, I received authority to issue directives and instructions to the highest Reich Departments, to the higher offices of the Armed Forces and the Party. During the war these powers were extended to the economic structure of the occupied countries.

Q. In that case I have stated and interpreted correctly what you stated at the conference?

A. Absolutely, in spite of the fact it is wrongly translated.

Q. With regard to your special prerogatives and rights, I am going to cite the instructions which you gave, as well as the orders you issued to some of the members who took part in the conference held on 16th August, and which were binding upon them.

A. Yes.

Q. In that case, when you used such expressions as "squeeze out," "get everything possible out of the occupied territories," such sentences in the directives issued became orders for your subordinates, is that not correct?

A. Naturally, they were then put into their proper form. These were the words used in direct speech, and the language was not so polite.

Q. Yes, I understand.

A. You are referring to the passage - may I repeat it:

"You certainly are not sent there to work for the welfare of the population."

[Page 323]

Is that the passage you are referring to?

Q. Yes; look at Page 112.

A. Yes, that is just what I am reading.

Q. It states here - I will read it:

"You are sent there not to work for the welfare of the population, but for the purpose of extracting everything possible out of these territories. That is what I expect from you."
A. You have left out a sentence - "So that the German nation may live - "

Q. Yes, that is right.

A. One minute ... "Extracting everything so that the German nation may live. That is what I expect from you."

Before that it states, however, and this is the sentence I would like to read:

"In the occupied territories they have stuffed themselves full while our own people have starved." The sentence then follows.
Q. You do not deny that these are your own words:
"You are sent there not to work for the welfare of the population, but to extract everything possible - ."
A. You have to read that in connection with the preceding part. I do not deny that I said that.

Q. Do you deny your own words as stated here?

A. No, I am telling you that I did say that. What I do object to is the way you pick out certain things, whereas they should be taken with their context.

Q. These phrases in the document are very expressive.

I draw your attention to the following extract on Page 113, which is also underlined. Here are some of your orders:

"One thing I will do. I will get what I demand of you, and if you cannot manage I will set up agencies which will get it out of you, whether you like it or not."
Do you see that extract? Is it correct that this is what you said at the conference?

A. That quotation has not been translated by the interpreter as it is written down here in the original. The interpreter who is translating your words into German is using many strong expressions which are not contained in this document. Squeeze out ...

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