The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
23rd March to 3rd April, 1946

Ninetieth Day: Monday, 25rd March, 1946
(Part 4 of 11)

[LIEUT.-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES continues his cross examination of ERNST WILHELM BOHLE]

[Page 24]

Q. Just pay attention to me for perhaps one moment before you look at that document. Do you know that Butting shared a house at The Hague with the Military Intelligence Office? Do you know that?

A. No, I do not.

Q. Now, I want to quote you quite shortly two paragraphs of this document, which is a report published as an official United States publication, called "National Socialism, Basic Principles, Their Application by the Nazi Party's Foreign Organization, and The Use of Germans Abroad for Nazi Aims." I just want you to tell the Tribunal what you think first of all about this report, which is printed in that book:

"In 1938 the German legation owned two houses in The Hague. Both were of course the subject of diplomatic immunity and therefore inviolable as concerned search and seizure by the Dutch police. I shall call the house in which Dr. Butting had his office House No. 2. What went on in House No. 2? It had been remodelled and was divided like a two-family house - vertically, not horizontally; but between the two halves there was a communicating door. One side of the house was Dr. Butting's. The other half housed the Nazi Military Intelligence agent for Holland."
You say that you do not know anything about that?

A. Butting was Landesgruppenleiter of the Ausland Organization. I am hearing about this house, or these two houses, for the first time. This is entirely new to me.

Q. Very well. I will just go on.

"S.B. (the military intelligence agent) may have had as many as a dozen subordinates working in Holland, all sub- agents of the Canaris bureau. These were professional spies who knew their trade. But they could not possibly know Holland as intimately as was required by the strategy of the German High Command, as was revealed following the invasion of May, 1940. For this, not a dozen but perhaps several hundred sources of information were necessary. And it is at this point that Butting and the military intelligence agent come together. Through his German Citizens' Association, Butting had a pair of Nazi eyes, a pair of Nazi cars, in every town and hamlet of the Netherlands. They were the eyes and ears of his minor Party officials. Whenever the military intelligence agent needed information concerning a corner of Holland which his people had not yet explored, or was anxious to check information relayed to him by one of his own people, he would go to Butting."
Do you know whether Butting assisted the military intelligence agent in Holland in any way like that?

A. I was told later that he aided him in Holland. In what proportion he helped him I do not know, for he had had no such missions from me.

Q. I understand, he had no instructions but he was doing it. Just turn now to the last paragraph on that page, too:

"'I know every stone in Holland,' S.B. once boasted. By 'stone' he meant canal, lock, bridge, viaduct, culvert, highway, by-road, airport, emergency landing field, and the name and location of Dutch Nazi sympathisers who would help the invading army when the time came. Had Dr. Butting's Party organization not existed under the innocent cover of his Citizen's Association, SB's knowledge of Holland would have been as nothing compared with what it was. Thus the Citizens' Association served a double purpose; it was invaluable for espionage at the same time as it fulfilled its primary function as a Fifth Column agency."
Do you know whether the members of your organization in Holland were given instructions to learn about every canal, lock, bridge, viaduct, railway, and so on?

[Page 25]

A. No, I had not the least idea of this.

Q. Very well. I want you to be quite clear. I am putting to you that your organization was in the first place an espionage system reporting information of importance back to the Reich, and, in the second place, it was an organization aimed to help, and which did help, your invading German armies when they overran the frontiers of their neighbouring States. Do you understand those two points?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. Did your organization publish an annual book, your "Year Book of the Foreign Organization"?

A. Yes.

Q. And did that book contain information as to the activities of your organization during the year?

A. Partially, yes.

Q. I suppose that the Tribunal would be safe in assuming that what was published in that book was accurate information?

A. One may assume that.

Q. Will you look at the "Year Book for 1942"? I have copies of the extracts. Would you turn to page 37 of that book? If you look back one or two pages in the book, you will find that that is an article entitled "The Work of the Norway Branch of the Ausland Organization in the War". Is that written by your Landesgruppenleiter in Norway?

A. I assume so, I cannot recall this.

Q. Will you look at page 37 and you will see that there are some passages in the book that you have in front of you that have been lightly marked in pencil along the side.

A. Yes, I have it.

Q. Will you find the paragraph which starts, "Therefore, soon after the outbreak of war in September, 1939 ."

Have you got that?

A. Yes, I have it.

Q. Perhaps you will be so kind as to follow me.

"Therefore, soon after the outbreak of war in September, 1939, the enlargement and extension of the German legation in Oslo, of the consulates in Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Kristiansand, Haugesund, Narvik and Kirkenes as the official representatives of German interests in Oslo proved to be of primary importance. This enlargement of the Reich agencies resulted in the local organization of the N.S.D.A.P. in Norway having to increase its field of activity too, in the same proportion, in order to support the work of the Reich agencies, particularly with Party members and other Germans who had a thorough knowledge of the country and language."
Why, in September 39, was it necessary for the Party to increase its organization in Norway with people having higher knowledge of the country and language? Answer me that before you read on. You need not worry about the rest; we are going to deal with it. Why was it necessary in 1939 to enlarge your organization?

A. In Norway, as far as I recall, there were only 80 members of the Party in all, and it goes without saying that after the outbreak of the war, the agencies not only of Germany but also, as you know, those of other States, were enlarged and were assisted by national elements, who knew the country concerned. That did not hold true for Germany alone but for all the nations participating in the war.

Q. Yes. I still do not understand why your perfectly harmless organization should have found it necessary to increase its membership with people who had a profound knowledge of the language and the country. Why should the Ausland Organization have found it necessary?

A. Because the Reich agencies also needed Germans who knew the country and the people, namely to furnish information on the German targets of attack in Norway - exactly what every other nation did too.

[Page 26]

Q. Well, your answer is, is it, that you required them to tell you about targets in Norway. Is that your answer?

A. No, I did not say that. I said that they were to be at the disposal of the agencies in Norway in case they were needed for giving information, that is for German propaganda purposes among the Norwegians. I would like to emphasize once again that that was done not only by Germany but, of course, by all the warring countries.

Very well, let us go on and see what happens next:

"The choice and appointment of these supplementary collaborators was carried out by the local leader of the organization in close collaboration with the representatives of the Reich. Therefore, from the first moment of the outbreak of war, a great number of Party members were taken away from their jobs and employed in the service of the nation and the Fatherland. Without any hesitation and without considering their personal interests, their families, their careers or their property, they joined the ranks and devoted themselves body and soul to new and often dangerous tasks."
Tell me, was finding out and reporting about the Norwegian people, was that an "often dangerous" task?

A. Certainly not.

Q. What, then, were the often dangerous tasks which your own Landesgruppenleiter is saying members of his organization were undertaking from the very moment war broke out, in September 39?

A. I cannot tell you anything about that, for I have no knowledge whatsoever about this and I cannot conceive any of these dangerous tasks. I have the impression from this article, which, incidentally I did not know about until now, that the Landesgruppenleiter had the natural desire to give more importance to his organization than it had in reality.

Q. But you say you did not know about this. This appeared in the official year book of your organization. Did you never read what appeared in that book?

A. Certainly not everything, for I am not familiar with this article.

Q. You have told us that the members of your organization took no, part in this. What about the people who were responsible for publishing that book? Did they never draw your attention to an article of that kind?

A. Obviously not.

Q. Just look at the next little paragraph:

"And the successful results of their work, which was done with all secrecy, were revealed when, on the 9th April, 1940, German troops landed in Norway and forestalled the planned flank attack of the Allies."
What work was revealed on the 9th of April? What work which had been done with all secrecy was revealed on the 9th April, work carried out by members of your organization?

A. I am sorry I cannot reply, for I have no knowledge whatsoever of this. I do not know.

Q. I see. Will you look down to the last paragraph of that page? It is the second sentence - four, five lines down - at the end of the fifth line. I beg your pardon. You have the book in front of you; I have forgotten. Will you look at page 40 of the book? In the centre of a paragraph the last word of one of the lines starts with "According to the task- plan" - Have you got it: It is page 40?

A. (The witness shook his head.)

Q. To save time, let me read it.

"According to the task-plan which had been prepared since the outbreak of the war, the leadership of the local organization gave orders on the 7th of April for phase one of the state of employment ..."
It does not sound, does it, like plans being made for different phases of an

[Page 27]

operation? It does not sound, does it, as if the work of your organization had been simply finding out about Norwegian people?

A. That might have been, since this is entirely new to me, exclusively an agreement in the country itself with military or other authorities. I have had no knowledge of it up to this moment.

Q. So I understand you to say. But you were the head of this organization were you not?

A. Yes.

Q. You have come before this International Tribunal and given them evidence, presumably saying you are in a position to give them truthful and accurate evidence, is that so?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you understand that?

A. Yes, I understood that.

Q. Well, then, do I understand you to say now that you do not know what was happening in your organization and therefore you are not in a position to give evidence as to whether or not it was a Fifth Column business?

A. It is evident that in an organization of this size the leader, who has his office at Berlin, cannot know exactly everything which is going on abroad and especially also that which is going on against his instructions. I did not have the same disciplinary authority over my Party members abroad as did, for instance, some Gauleiter within the Reich. I need not elaborate on that, because it seems self-evident. It is also evident, and this I know, that some Germans abroad, who were called on because of their patriotism in individual cases, let themselves be used for such purposes without the knowledge of the Ausland Organization and against its explicit instructions.

Q. In the interest of time we will not pursue that particular sphere of activity in Norway, just in case it may have been an exception which you did not know about.

Let me turn to something else. Will you look at page 65 of that book?

Is that an article by your Landesgruppenleiter in Greece?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it in the form of a day-to-day diary of the activities of the Ausland organization in Greece when German troops invaded that country?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you look at page 65?

"Sunday the 27th of April. Swastika on the Acropolis."
That is the heading. I beg your pardon. I do not know whether it comes directly under that heading. This is the Landesgruppenleiter talking:
"I set out immediately and quickly visited the other quarters where the German colony had been interned, the Philadelphia and the Institute. I instructed the inmates of the house in Academy Street to give up returning home today as well, and to hold themselves in readiness. After all, we did want to help the German troops immediately with our knowledge of the language and the district. Now the moment has come. We must start in immediately."
Do you know -

A. Yes, I even know all about this. It certainly must be evident that the moment German troops occupied a foreign city and freed the Germans living abroad who had been interned, the latter would put themselves at the disposal of the German troops and help them in every respect as guides, interpreters, or the like. That is certainly the most logical thing in the world.

Q. That is in fact what they did do, and the assistance that your organization appears to have given them is that it managed to organize them and get them

[Page 28]

ready to do it, is that not so? That is what your Landesgruppenleiter seems to be doing?

A. I did not understand that question. Will you please repeat it?

Q. Do you understand that it is your Landesgruppenleiter who is organising the members of your organisation, organising them so that they can give their assistance most beneficially to the invading armies?

A. That is a completely wrong way to express it. The Landesgruppenleiter in Greece, who had served at his post since 1934, could not possibly tell whether there was to be an invasion of Greece or not. That had not the slightest thing to do with his kind of organization. The moment that German troops were in the country it stands to reason that they would greet their countrymen, act as their hosts, and help them in every way. That was a patriotic duty taken for granted.

Q. I see.

Just turn to page 66, the next page. Will you find the paragraph which commences "Meanwhile I organized the employment of all Party members to do auxiliary service for the armed forces."

Do you have that?

A. I understand it, although I have not found the place.

Q. You had better find the place.

A. Where shall I find that place?

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