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 9 of 10)

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

[Page 323]

Q. Please read your original.

A. It says here, "to get from and obtain." Between "to get from and obtain" and "to squeeze out" there is a vast difference in German.

Q. To "get from" and to "squeeze out" is about the same thing. And what about the phrase, "I will set up agencies, which will squeeze it out of you"? What have you got?

A. "Get from," not "squeeze out of."

Q. "Get from"? Did you have any cause not to trust the Reichskommissars? You refer to them as "special agencies."

A. Not only were the Reichskommissars of the Eastern Territories present, but also the Kommissars of all territories. It was a question of the contribution in foodstuffs which the separate countries had to make, to enable us to deal with the whole food question in all those areas in Europe occupied by us. Before the conference I had been told that it was to be expected, as is always the case in such a situation, that everyone would hold back and get the other fellow to deliver first. In other words, I did not want these fellows to do me down. I knew they would offer me only half and I demanded 100 per cent. We could then meet somewhere half-way.

Q. I ask you; these demands which you made to those present at the conference, did they not mean a ruthless plundering of the occupied territories?

[Page 324]

A. No, the main question at this conference was "more foodstuffs."

Q. But I am talking about plunder. Plunder can mean plundering of food from the occupied territories?

A. I have just said I was responsible for the feeding of practically the whole territory. Some of it was territory which provided food supplies, and some had a surplus, and it had to be equalised.

At this meeting the contribution to be made by each Reichskommissar was for the most part fixed at 90 per cent., and I in no way deny that in making my demands at the meeting I was worked up and used strong words. Later on the exact figures for the deliveries were laid down and this was the net result of the meeting.

Q. I want to draw your attention to Page 118. Here it states as follows, I quote your words, Page 118 please; have you found the place?

A. Yes.

Q. "It seemed to me to be a relatively simple matter in former days. It used to be called plundering. It was up to the party in question to carry off what had been conquered. But to-day things have become more genteel. In spite of that, I intend to plunder and to do it thoroughly."

A. Yes, I have found it and that was exactly what I said at that conference. I repeat once more that ...

Q. I just wanted to ascertain that you really said that.

A. I did say that, and now I should like to give you the reason. In making that statement I meant that in former times war fed on war. To-day you call it something different, but in practice it remains the same.

Q. All right. I draw your attention to Page 119. There, addressing those present at the meeting, you state:

"Whenever you come across anything that may be needed by the German people, you must be after it like a bloodhound. It must be taken out of store and brought to Germany." Have you found that place?
A. Yes, I have found it.

Q. Did you say that?

A. I certainly assume that I did say it, yes.

Q. You did say that. This sentence is naturally a logical conclusion of your intention to plunder.

A. No, it is not. Just after that I said that I had issued a decree authorising the soldiers to buy up what they wanted, as much as they wanted, and as much as they could carry. Just buy up everything.

Q. You mention soldiers. I wanted to remind you of this too, and as you have quoted it I will refer to that sentence again. You said, "Soldiers may purchase as much as they want, what they want, and what they can carry away."

A. As much as they can carry away, yes, and that was necessary because the Customs authorities had issued a restrictive order, whereby a soldier could only take a small parcel. It seemed wrong to me that a soldier who had fought should not have at least some benefit from victory.

Q. So that you do not deny that the extract which has just been read is what you really said in your speech of 6th August, 1942.

A. I do not deny that at all.

Q. Very well. Let us go to the next question. Do you admit that as the trustee of the Four-Year Plan you directed the deportation to forced labour of millions of citizens from the occupied territories, and that the defendant Sauckel was your immediate subordinate in this activity? Do you admit that?

A. On paper he was my subordinate, but he was actually directly subordinate to the Fuehrer, and I have already emphasised that in so far as I was informed I will take my part of the responsibility; and of course I knew about these statements.

[Page 325]

Q. I want to draw your attention to your other remarks at the same conference. You will find that on Pages 141 and 142.

A. That has already been read to the Tribunal.

Q. I would like to ask you now if you found the place?

A. I have found it.

Q. You have found it. You said at this conference:

"I do not want to praise Gauleiter Sauckel, he does not need it. But what he has accomplished, in such a short time and with such speed, for the recruitment of manpower from all over Europe and setting them to work in our industries is a unique achievement."
Further, on Page 142, you say - you were speaking of Koch:
"Your miserable 500,000 people! How many has he brought in? Nearly 2,000,000. Where did he get the others?"
A. Yes, it does not read quite like that here.

Q. It was not explicit. Make it more precise.

A. Koch is trying to assert that he alone supplied all these people for Sauckel. Whereupon, I replied that for the whole Sauckel Programme 2,000,000 workers had been supplied and that he, Koch, could only lay claim to have supplied 500,000, at most. In other words, Koch was claiming that he himself had supplied the total number.

Q. Did you think that 500,000 was a small number?

A. No, that is not the point. I have just explained. Of these 2,000,000 which represent the total supplied by Sauckel in the past, 500,000 came from the whole of the Ukraine, so that Koch did not produce the whole number as he was trying to assert. That is the meaning of this quotation.

Q. But you do not deny the underlying meaning that you were speaking here of millions of people who were carried off forcibly to Germany for slave labour.

A. I do not deny that I was speaking of 2,000,000 workers who had been called up, but whether they were all brought to Germany I cannot say at the moment. At any rate, they were used for the German economy.

Q. You do not deny that this was forced labour, slavery?

A. Slavery, that I deny. Forced labour did of course partly come into it, and the reason for that I have already stated.

Q. But they were forcibly taken out of their countries and sent to Germany?

A. To a certain extent deported forcibly, and I have already explained why.

Q. You heard, defendant Goering, that a series of German documents have been read which make it clear that these people from the occupied territories were sent forcibly to Germany; that the were rounded up, taken in the street, loaded into trains and sent to Germany under military guard? If they refused to go to Germany, or tried to evade mobilisation, the peaceful inhabitants were shot and submitted to torture. You have heard of these documents which describe these methods?

A. Yes, but may I ask you to look at those documents again. These show that recruitment was not ordered but that registration even for forced labour was regulated by decrees and other orders. If I had been given an absolute guarantee, particularly in the East, that all these people would be peaceful and peace-loving people, that they would never take part in Partisan activities or carry out sabotage, then I probably would have put a larger number to work on the spot. But for security reasons, both in the East and in the West - particularly in the West-where young age groups were reaching the age of military service - we were compelled to draft these men into labour and bring them to Germany.

Q. They were taken to Germany only in the interest of security and safety?

A. There were two reason. I have already explained them in detail. Firstly, for security reasons. Secondly, because it was necessary to find labour.

[Page 326]

Q. And for that reason - let us take the second, the necessity of finding labour - people were forcibly taken from their country and sent to slavery in Germany. Is that correct?

A. Not to slavery; they were sent to Germany to work, but I must repeat that not all of those who were taken away from the East were brought in to work. For instance, in the case of Poland, already 1,680,000 Poles and Ukrainians had been taken by the Soviet Union from the territory which the Russians had occupied at that time and afterwards transported to the East - the Far East.

Q. I do not think you should touch on the question of the Soviet territories. Just answer the question which I am asking you, which concerns the deportation to Germany of the peaceful population from the occupied territories. I am asking you once more: Of the 5,000,000 persons who were sent to Germany, approximately 200,000 were volunteers, while the rest were taken to Germany forcibly. Is that not so?

A. First of all, I must correct that. I did not say that to Sir David at all. He mentioned the figure 5,000,000, of which he said not more than 200,000 were volunteers. He questioned me on the strength of the minutes of the Central Planning Board and the alleged statement of Sauckel. I did not agree and answered that the figure of volunteers was much higher and that there must be a mistake in the figures.

Q. All right. You affirm that the number of volunteers was considerably larger, but you do not deny the fact that millions were sent to Germany against their will. You do not deny that.

A. Without wanting to tie myself down to a figure, the fact that workers were forcibly put to work is something I have never denied, and I answered accordingly.

Q. Let us go to another question: Tell me what procedure there was for sending on the directives of the O.K.W. to various other Government agencies and organs.

A. I did not understand the meaning of that question as it came through in translation.

Q. I would like you to describe the procedure which existed for sending the directives of the O.K.W. to the various units of the Air Force and other units. How were they distributed?

A. Now I understand the question correctly. The procedure was as follows: If an order came from the O.K.W., addressed to the Air Force, then it went through the following channels: If it was an order from the Fuehrer, then the order had to be sent directly to me, the Supreme Commander. If it arose out of an order, in other words, was not signed by the Fuehrer, and began with the words, "By order of the Fuehrer," or "On instructions of the Fuehrer," followed by the directives, then such an order, according to its purport, would go to the Chief of the General Staff of my Air Force, who again, in so far as it was important, would report it to me verbally. If it dealt with current and departmental matters the order would go directly to the lower Service departments concerned without going through the High Command. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to work, owing to the very large number of such orders.

Q. In connection with this I would like to ask the following: In 1941 the O.K.W. drew up a series of instructions and orders with regard to the conduct of the troops in the East and the treatment by them of the Soviet population. It dealt specifically with military jurisdiction in the Barbarossa region - Document 150-C - which has already been submitted to the Tribunal. According to these instructions, the German officers had the right to shoot any person suspected of a hostile attitude to the Germans, without bringing that person to court. This directive also stated that the German soldiers could not be punished for crimes which they committed against the local population. Directives of this nature must have been submitted to you.

[Page 327]

A. I would have to see that from the distribution chart. May I see the document please?

Q. You would like to see the exhibit?

A. I want to see whether that document came straight to me or first of all to my departments.

Q. Please look at the date, 13th May, 1941.

A. Actually it did not come straight to me. It says on the distribution chart, "OB.D.L. Air Force Operations Staff, General Quartermaster." In fact, so far as my troops were concerned, I issued very severe disciplinary orders, and that was the reason why I have asked for the Supreme Judge of the Air Force to be called as a witness, and have now sent him an interrogatory, which deals with these very questions.

Q. You do know about this order, however?

A. I have seen it here, and consequently asked for the witnesses, since this order did not go directly to the Supreme Commander, but to the department which I have just mentioned. Nevertheless, if this department acted on this order, then I do, of course, formally share the responsibility. But we are here concerned with an order from the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, which could not be questioned by the troops.

Q. But you do agree that you, in your position, would have to know about this document.

A. No; if so, it would have come directly to me, to the Commander-in-Chief, and not be sent to the Air Force Operations Staff and General Quartermaster Department. It then depended on whether this department considered the importance of the document to be such as to require my personal orders and directives. But this was not the case here, since the document did not affect us as much as it did the Army.

Q. But the document was sent to your department and circulated there.

A. I have just said it was sent to two offices.

Q. But this document should have been reported to you.

A. No, it did not have to be reported to me. I explained a little earlier that if every order and every instruction which came through in the shape of an order but did not require my intervention, had had to be reported to me, then I should have been drowned in a sea of paper; and that is the reason why only the most important matters were brought to me and reported to me.

I cannot swear upon my oath that this document was not reported to me verbally. It is possible, and I formally take responsibility also for my departments.

Q. I would like you to be more precise about it. You say that the most important things, or the important things, were usually reported to you; correct?

A. That is correct.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.