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-Eighth Day: Friday, 22nd March, 1946
(Part 1 of 7)

[Page 332]

DR. SERVATIUS (counsel for the Leadership Corps): Mr. President, yesterday I received the translation of Document D-728; it is the document which yesterday was objected to as being incorrect.


DR. SERVATIUS I request to have this retranslated, since this translation is considerably different from the original wording and, in particular, fails to make clear where the mistakes are which led to the objection against the document. On the first page of that document there are about 20 to 30 objections to be made. The translator, since he could not realise the importance of the document, translated it quickly without emphasising the decisive points. A careful translation ought to be made, which would enable us to get an idea of the original document. I am fully aware of what the difficulties are.

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, the translation shall be checked by a different translator, or, if you like, by two different translators.

DR. SERVATIUS : May I ask to have a new translation made for comparison, since the version which we have here is also evidence of the fact that the original contains considerable mistakes.

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly it shall be checked and retranslated.

DR. SERVATIUS: Then, I request further that the opinion of an expert on the German language be obtained. This opinion will show that the author of this document has not complete knowledge of the German language and that it must have been drawn up by someone who was a foreigner. I do not want to give detailed reasons but I would like to make this motion in writing.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you must certainly make a written application about that.

DR. SERVATIUS : I shall submit it in writing.



Q. Defendant Goering, in your statement you said that the attack on Poland was perpetrated after the bloody happenings in the town of Bromberg.

A. I said that the date for the attack was set due to the bloody events which included, in addition to many other incidents, the bloody Sunday at Bromberg.

Q. Do you know that these events happened on 3rd September, 1939?

A. I might have made a mistake regarding the date of Bromberg; I would have to see the documents about that. I merely quoted that as one example among a lot of others.

GENERAL RUDENKO: It is understandable. The attack was perpetrated on 1st September, and the events in the town of Bromberg, which you just mentioned to the Tribunal, happened on 3rd September, 1939. I submit to the Tribunal the documentary evidence issued by the High Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, which is duly certified in accordance with Article 21 of the Charter. From this testimony it is clear that the events about which the defendant Goering here is testifying happened on 3rd September, 1939. That is to say, on the third day after the attack by Germany on Poland.

THE PRESIDENT: You can put the document to the witness, if you want to.

[Page 333]

GENERAL RUDENKO: I have no German text. I have it in English and in Russian. I have just received this document. It is dated 19th March, and I will submit it to the Tribunal as conclusive evidence to prove this fact.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think this is the appropriate time to put in documents in that way, but, very well, you can submit the document now if you like.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: It must be translated into German, of course.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I have no German translation of this document.

THE PRESIDENT: It has to be translated into German in order that defendant's counsel may see it.

GENERAL RUDENKO: We will do that without fail.

DR. STAHMER (counsel for the defendant Goering): Mr. President, may I ask to have the document read now - it is only a short memorandum - so that we can hear immediately what is contained in it?

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Will you read it into the record, General Rudenko? GENERAL RUDENKO: Yes, Sir. It is very short:

"Certificate based on the investigation performed by the Polish Legal Authority. The High Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland certifies that the so-called Bloody Sunday in the town of Bromberg took place on 3rd September, 1939, that is to say, three days after the time when Poland was subjected to the German attack.

On 3rd September, 1939, at 10. 15 hours in the morning, the German Forces attacked the Polish Army which was retreating from Bromberg. During the defensive engagement by retreating Polish detachments, 238 Polish soldiers and 223 German Fifth Columnists were killed. After the German troops had entered the town of Bromberg they began mass executions, arrests, and deportations to concentration camps of Polish citizens, carried out by the German authorities, the S.S., and the Gestapo. As a consequence, there were 10,500 murdered and 13,000 who were exterminated in the camps.

This certificate is an official document of the Polish Government and is submitted to the International Military Tribunal in accordance with Article 21 of the Charter of 8th August, 1945.

Stephan Kurovski, a member of the High Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland."

I should like to prove by this document that the events regarding which the defendant Goering gave testimony happened after the attack by Germany on Poland.

THE WITNESS: I am not sure whether we are both referring to the same event.


Q. I am speaking about the events in the town of Bromberg. You spoke about them.

A. Maybe two different events took place in Bromberg.

Q. It is quite possible.

I pass on to the following question:

Is it known to you that there was an order by the O.K.W. regarding the branding of Soviet prisoners of war, and what are your views on that order?

A. That order is not known to me, and no representative of the Air Force was present at this preliminary discussion, as I have ascertained here from the records.

Q. I am interested in the fact of whether you knew about this or not. The orders are quite clear.

A. No.

[Page 334]

Q. Do you know that the German Command ordered that Soviet war prisoners and Soviet citizens had to be used for clearing mine-fields and removing bombs that had not exploded, etc? Do you know about that?

A. I know that Russian prisoners of war who were engineers had to clear the mines which they had laid. To what extent the civilian population was employed for that purpose I do not know. But it was possible they were so used.

Q. It is quite clear.

Do you know about an order regarding the destruction of the towns of Leningrad, Moscow, and other towns of the Soviet Union?

A. In my presence the destruction of Leningrad was discussed only in the document which was mentioned yesterday, in the sense that the Finns, in case of capture of Leningrad, would have no use for such a big city. Of the destruction of Moscow I know nothing at all.

Q. Do you remember the minutes of the meeting? This document was presented to you - the minutes of the meeting of 16th July, 1941. You were present at this meeting. It states that the Fuehrer declared ...

A. I have just mentioned and confirmed that.

Q. Did you speak about this particular document? But, besides this statement, there were also official orders.

A. Would you be good enough to put them before me, then I would be able to ascertain whether they are correct and whether they were known to me.

Q. I have no intention of submitting those documents to you. They have already been submitted to the Tribunal. I am only interested in the fact of whether you were aware of those orders.

A. I received no order to destroy Leningrad or Moscow in the sense which you have indicated.

Q. All right. You were only told about the "important happenings." But orders for the destruction of cities, and murder of millions of men, etc., went through so-called Service channels.

A. If a town was to have been destroyed by bombing, then that order would have been given by me directly.

Q. On 8th March, here in the Tribunal, your witness Bodenschatz stated that you told him in March, 1945, that many Jews were killed and that "for that you will have to pay dearly." Do you remember this testimony of your witness?

A. This testimony, in the form in which it is translated now, I do not recollect at all. The witness Bodenschatz never said it that way. I ask that the record of the session be brought in.

Q. How did Bodenschatz say that? Do you remember?

A. That if we lose the war we would have to pay dearly.

Q. Why? For the murders which you had perpetrated?

A. No, quite generally, and after all, we have experienced just that.

Q. Quite generally. I have a few concluding questions to put to you.

First of all, regarding the so-called theory of the Master Race.

I should like to put to you only one question in this connection and I should like you to reply directly to it. Were you in accord with this principle of the Master Race and education of the German people in the spirit of it or were you not in accord with it?

A. No, and I have also stated that I have never used that expression either in writing or orally, but I definitely recognise the differences between races.

Q. But do I understand you correctly that you are not in accord with this theory?

A. I have never expressed my agreement with the theory that one race should be considered as a Master Race superior to the others, but I have emphasised the difference between races.

[Page 335]

Q. You can answer this question; apparently you do not consider it right?

A. I personally do not consider it right.

Q. The next question: You have stated here at the Tribunal that you did not agree with Hitler regarding the question of annexation of Czechoslovakia, the Jewish Question, the question of war with the Soviet Union, the value of the theory of the Master Race, and the question of shooting of the British airmen who were prisoners of war. How would you explain that, having such serious differences, you still thought it possible to collaborate with Hitler and to carry out his policy?

A. That was not the way I worded my answers. Here, too, we must consider separately various periods of time. As to the attack against Russia, there were no basic differences, but differences as to the date.

Q. You have told us that already. Excuse me; I do not want you to be lengthy on this theme. Will you reply directly?

A. All right. I may have had a different opinion from that of my supreme leader, and I may also express my opinion clearly. If the supreme leader insists on his opinion and I have sworn allegiance to him, then the discussion comes to an end, just as is the case elsewhere. I do not think I need to elaborate that point.

Q. You are not just a simple soldier, as you stated here; but you have presented yourself also as a statesman?

A. There you are right. I am not only a simple soldier, and just because I am not a simple soldier but occupied such a prominent position I had to set an example for the ordinary soldier by my own attitude as to how the oath of allegiance should be adhered to strictly.

Q. In other words, you thought it possible, even in spite of these differences, to collaborate with Hitler?

A. I have emphasised it and I maintain that it is true. My oath does not only hold good in good times but also in bad times, although the Fuehrer never threatened me and never told me that he was afraid for my health.

Q. If you thought it possible to co-operate with Hitler, do you recognise that, as the second man in Germany, you are responsible for the organising on a national scale of murders of millions of innocent people, independently of whether you know about those facts or not?

Tell me briefly, yes or no.

A. No, because I did not know anything about them and did not cause them.

Q. I should like to underline again, "whether you knew about these facts or not."

A. If I actually did not know them, then I cannot be held responsible for them.

Q. It was your duty to know about these facts.

A. I shall go into that.

Q. I am questioning you. Answer me this question: Was it your duty to know about these facts?

A. In what way my duty? Either I know the fact or I do not know it. You can only ask me if I was negligent in failing to obtain knowledge.

Q. You ought to know yourself better. Millions of Germans knew about the crimes which were being perpetrated, and you did not know about them?

A. Neither did millions of Germans know about them. That is a statement which has in no way been proved.

Q. My last two questions: You stated to the Tribunal that Hitler's Government brought great prosperity to Germany. Are you still sure that that is so?

A. Definitely until the beginning of the war. The collapse was only due to the war being lost.

Q. As a result of which, you brought Germany - as a result of your politics - to military and political destruction. I have no more questions.

[Page 336]

THE PRESIDENT: Does the Chief Prosecutor for France wish to cross-examine?

M. CHAMPETIER DE RIBES: I ask the Tribunal for permission to make one very short statement. To fulfil the desire expressed by the Tribunal and to abbreviate as much as possible the discussions at this trial, the French prosecution has come to an agreement with Mr. Justice Jackson and with Sir David Maxwell Fyfe that the questions put to the defendant Goering as a witness should only be those which are considered pertinent.

The questions have been asked and we have heard the answers of the defendant, as far as it was possible to obtain from him anything except propaganda speeches. I think the defence will not be able to complain that its freedom has been curtailed. It has been able to use its freedom abundantly in the past twelve sessions without having been able in any way to weaken the prosecution's overwhelming accusations, without having been noticeably able to convince anyone that the second man in the German Reich was in no way responsible for launching the war or that he knew nothing of the atrocities committed by the men whom he was so proud to command.

THE PRESIDENT: You will, no doubt, have the opportunity later to comment, but the question that I ask you now is whether you wish to ask the witness definite questions.

M. DE RIBES: Mr. President, I have finished; I have said all that I wanted to say, that is to say, after all these long discussions, the French prosecution feels that nothing has been changed in the crushing accusation which we brought forth. Consequently, I have no further questions to ask the defendant.



Q. The British prosecution has stated that you issued direct orders to the Herman Goering Division, during its employment in Italy, about the fight against the Partisans. Is that statement correct?

A. No. The Hermann Goering Division was a ground division and was part of the operational task force of an army and army group. Consequently, it could never have received orders for its tactical employment from me, from Berlin or from my headquarters, which were not on the scene. Therefore, I could not have given it any orders as to whether and how it was to be employed in the Partisan war. Only such orders were given which referred exclusively to matters of personnel and equipment or which concerned the internal administration of justice with regard to officers; nor did the division submit to me daily reports but only -

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