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 10 of 10)

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

[Page327 ]

Q. I would like to draw your attention to the document before you, to the third and fourth points of the order. The third point says:
"Actions of hostile civilians against the German Armed Forces and Service personnel must be suppressed on the spot and by use of the most extreme measures, even if it means the annihilation of the attackers."
Fourth point: "Thus, no time should be lost - "

A. Just a moment.

Q. The fourth point, or paragraph?

A. You have sent me up three documents, and I am trying to find out which one; I am trying to sort them out.

Q. All right.

A. I shall repeat paragraph 3 because it has been transmitted quite erroneously in the German.

[Page 328]

"In the case of all other attacks by hostile civilians against the Armed Forces, extreme measures to suppress them must be taken by the troops on the spot, even if it means the annihilation of the attackers." Q. And point four?

A. Then we come to point four, and it is the paragraph where it says that where measures of this kind have been omitted or were not practicable, the suspicious element will be taken at once to an officer, who will decide whether they are to be shot. That is probably what you meant, is it not?

Q. Yes. That is what I had in mind. Could it be assumed that this document, from your point of view, was important enough to have been reported to you?

A. Actually it was important, but it was not absolutely necessary for it to be reported, since the Fuehrer order had made it so clear that a sub-leader and even a Commander-in- Chief of one of the Services could not alter such a clear and strict order.

Q. I draw your attention once more to the date in the right- hand corner. It states there, "Fuehrer Headquarters, 13th May, 1941."

A. Yes.

Q. Therefore, it means that this was a month before the German attack on the Soviet Union? Already, then, directives were formulated about military jurisdiction within the regions covered by the "Plan Barbarossa." and you did not know about this document?

A. When a plan for mobilisation is laid down, provision must be made for certain eventualities. From his experience, the Fuehrer believed that a serious threat would immediately arise in the East, and in this document measures are laid down for dealing with any action by the resistance and fighting behind the lines. It was therefore a precautionary order for such happenings. It is imperative that such measures be taken.

Q. And the officers were given the right to shoot civilians without bringing them to trial?

A. An officer could hold a court-martial on the spot, but, according to this paragraph, he could also, if he thought fit and had evidence that the opponent was making attacks from the rear, have him shot on the spot. That has always been done.

Q. You think that the officer can hold a court martial on the spot?

A. That is laid down in the articles of war. Every officer commanding a unit can hold a court-martial at any time.

Q. But you do agree that there is no question of any court here? It states that he alone can decide what to do with the civilian.

A. He could act alone or use a court-martial on the spot. All he needed to do was to call two more people. He could reach a decision in two or three minutes if the evidence of the attack was available.

Q. In two or three minutes, you say, and then he could shoot the person?

A. If I catch a man flagrantly shooting on my troops from a house in the rear, then the matter can be settled very swiftly by a court-martial. But where there is no evidence at all, you cannot do that. Here, however, we are dealing with an immediate attack and with the means of putting an end to it.

Q. Defendant Goering, let us leave this question. I would only like to point out once more that this directive, issued by the High Command of the Armed Forces on 13th May, 1941, came from the highest level, and that this order gives an officer the right to shoot a man without a trial. I suppose you will not deny this. Let us go on.

A. Yes, but I deny that emphatically. There is nothing here which says that an officer has the right to shoot a man right away. Let us get this right. It says here - and I repeat it - "Attacks by hostile civilians against the Armed Forces," and then it says, where measures of this kind are not practicable, then

[Page 329]

the suspicious elements - and here is meant "suspicious" elements only - are to be brought before the highest officer of the formation there present, and he will decide the matter. In other words, it does not say that every officer can decide the fate of any civilian.

Q. It is quite clear. The second document which I would like to submit now and question you about is that dated September, 1941. It has been submitted to the Court as Exhibit USSR 98B.

A. Just a moment. What was the date you mentioned?

Q. 16th September, 1941, is the date of the document. Paragraph B of the document. I will not quote it. I am merely calling it to your mind. It states that as a general rule the death of one German soldier must be paid for by the lives of 50 to 100 Communists. That means that this rule should serve as a deterrent. I am not going to question you about the main purport of the document. That is quite clear and needs no clarification. What I am interested in is whether this document was likewise unknown to you.

A. Yes it was. It was not directed to me either. Here again it merely went to some administrative office. The Air Force had very little to do with such matters.

Q. And this office did not report to you about its existence?

A. In a general way I knew about these reprisals, but I did not know that they were so thorough. I only learned later, I mean during the war, not here - that the order originally mentioned 5 to 10 and that the Fuehrer personally made it 50 to a 100. The question is, whether you have any evidence that the Air Force really made use of the order anywhere, and they did not. That is all I can tell you.

Q. I am asking you about something else. Do not put questions to me. I am asking you. Did your administrative office ever report to you about this document?

A. No, but later on I heard about this document. At a later date.

Q. What do you mean by "later date"? Please be more precise.

A. I cannot tell you at the moment. It was some time during the war that I heard that a figure which originally stood at from 5 to 10 had been altered by the Fuehrer personally to 50 to 100. That is what I heard.

Q. For one German?

A. I have just explained to you. That is what I heard. The number was originally 5 to 10 and the Fuehrer personally added on a nought. It was because of that fact that I learned about the whole matter.

Q. You mean the Fuehrer added the noughts?

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, do you think it is really necessary to go through these documents in such detail? The documents, after an, speak for themselves, and they have already been presented to the Tribunal.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I am finishing with this document, Mr. President.

Q. Do you know anything about the directives of the O.K.W. with regard to treatment of Soviet prisoners of war?

A. I shall have to see them.

Q. If you please, Mr. President, the document has already been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 338.

(A document was handed to the witness.)

Please look at point A, paragraph 3, which states that there is a broad directive concerning the use of arms against Soviet prisoners of war. This says that if a prisoner of war tries to escape he must be shot immediately. No warning need be given.

The same thing appears in the verbal instructions concerning Soviet prisoners of war.

[Page 330]

A. The trouble here is the language difficulty; hence the guards are instructed to use their arms immediately against the person attempting escape. That errors can arise in this connection is easily understood.

Q. I am not talking about the purport of the document, which speaks for itself. I want to know whether you knew about this document.

A. This is a document dealing with the treatment of prisoners of war, and it was passed directly to my department which was concerned with prisoners of war. I did not know of this document, neither did I know of the one which contains an opinion of the Foreign Intelligence Division.

Q. You did not know about this document? Very well. Now one other - I mean 854-PS, already submitted, and which talks about exterminating political prisoners.

A. In explanation of this I should like to repeat that the Air Force did not have any camps for Soviet prisoners of war. The Air Force had only six camps in which the Air Force personnel of other Powers were confined; in other words, it did not have any Soviet P.O.W. camps.

Q. I have asked you these questions and shown you these documents because, as the second man in command in Germany, you could not possibly have been unaware of these things.

A. I apologise if I contradict you. The higher the office I held the less would I be concerned with orders dealing with prisoners of war. From their very nature, these were departmental orders and not orders of the highest political or military significance. If I had held a much lower rank, then I might have had more knowledge of these orders. I am now looking at the document which you submitted to me - "Department of Home Defence." It says on the left: "Reference treatment of captured political and military Russian functionaries." That is the document I am looking at.

Q. Please look at the date of the document - "12th May, 1941. Fuehrer's Headquarters."

A. Yes.

Q. Look at paragraph 3 of the document. "Political leaders among the troops are not to be considered prisoners of war and must be exterminated at latest in the hospitals. They must never be transported to the rear." Did you know about this directive?

A. May I point out that this is in no way a directive, but that it bears the heading "Memorandum" and is signed "Warlimont." Also the distribution chart does not show any other department than the department Home Defence, which I have mentioned. In other words, this is a memorandum.

Q. You mean to say, then, that you did not know about this document?

A. I say once more: This is a memorandum from the Operations Staff of the O.K.W., and it is not an order, or a directive, but a memorandum.

THE PRESIDENT: That is not an answer to the question. You are telling us what it was, not whether you knew of it.

A. No; I did not. It had been put before me as an order, and I wanted to point out that it is not an order.


Q. The directives regarding the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war must have been executed also by the units of the Luftwaffe.

A. If ordered by the Fuehrer - yes; or if ordered by me.

Q. Do you remember your own directives with regard to the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war?

A. No.

Q. You do not remember them?

A. The Air Force had no camps with Soviet P.O.W.

Q. Tell me, the majority of these criminal orders and directives of the O.K.W., were they not issued even before the beginning of the war against the Soviet

[Page 331]

Union and as part of the preparations for that war? Does this not show that the German Government and the O.K.W. already had a prepared plan for exterminating the Soviet population?

A. No. It does not prove it at all. It only shows that we considered the struggle with the Soviet Union would be an extremely bitter one, and that it would be conducted according to other rules as there were no conventions.

Q. These rules of warfare are well known to us. Please tell me, do you know about Himmler's directives given in 1941 about the extermination of 30,000,000 Slavs? You heard about it from the witness Zelewski here in Court. Do you remember that?

A. Yes. Firstly: This was not an order but a speech; secondly: it was an assertion by Zelewski; and thirdly: in all speeches Himmler made to assistant leaders, he insisted on the strictest secrecy. In other words, this is a statement from a witness about what he heard, and not an order. Consequently, I have no knowledge of this nonsense.

Q. You did not know about it. Very well. Tell me, in the German totalitarian State was there not a governing centre, which meant Hitler and his immediate entourage, in which you acted as deputy? These directives must have concerned Keitel and Himmler also. Could Himmler of his own volition have issued directives for the extermination of 30,000,000 Slavs without being empowered by Hitler or by you?

A. Himmler gave no order for the extermination of 30,000,000 Slavs. The witness said that he made a speech in which he said that 30,000,000 Slavs must be destroyed. Had Himmler issued such an order defacto, then, if he kept to the dispositions, he would have had to ask the Fuehrer - not me, but the Fuehrer - and the latter would probably have told him at once that it was impossible.

Q. I did not say it was an order; I said it was an instruction from Himmler. You therefore admit, or you state, rather, that Himmler could have issued instructions without discussing them with Hitler?

A. I emphasise that such an instruction could not have been given by Himmler, and I know of no instruction, also no directive has been mentioned here.

Q. I shall repeat the question once more: Is it not true that the directives and the orders of the O.K.W. with regard to the treatment of the civilian population and the prisoners of war in the occupied Soviet territories were part of the general directives for the extermination of the Slavs? That is what I want to know.

A. Not at all. At no time has there been a directive from the Fuehrer or anybody I know concerning the extermination of the Slavs.

Q. You must have known about the mass extermination of the Soviet citizens in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union with the help of the S.D. and the Security Police. Is it not true that the "Einsatz Kommandos" and their activities were the result of the plan prepared in advance for the extermination of Jews and other groups of Soviet citizens?

A. No. Einsatz Kommandos were an internal organ which was kept very secret.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I shall have several other questions. Perhaps it is better to adjourn now.

THE PRESIDENT: How long do you think it will take, General Rudenko?

GENERAL RUDENKO: I think not more than another hour.

THE PRESIDENT: All these documents which you have been putting to the witness, as I have pointed out to you, are documents which have already been put in evidence and documents which seem to me to speak for themselves. I hope, therefore, that you will make your cross-examination as short as you can. The Tribunal will now adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 22nd March, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

[ 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.