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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
4th April to 15th April, 1946

One Hundred and First Day: Saturday, 6th April, 1946
(Part 4 of 6)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav Keitel]

[Page 81]

Q. Well, look at the Document D-770, which is, I think, your answer; it is Exhibit GB 305. You will notice on the distribution list that that goes to the Commander of the Armed Forces in the Netherlands, and is in addition to the signal which we have just been looking at. Now, you say:
"According to the Fuehrer's order of 3oth July, 1944, non-German civilians in the occupied territories who attack us in the rear in the crisis of our battle for existence, deserve no mercy. This must be our guiding principle in the interpretation and application of the Fuehrer's decree itself and the Chief of the O.K.W.'s executive decree of 18th August, 1944.

If the military situation and the state of communications make it impossible to hand them over to the S.D., other effective measures are to be taken ruthlessly and independently.

There is, naturally" - and I ask you to note the word "naturally" - "no objection to passing and executing death sentences by summary court-martial under such circumstances."

I cannot remember, defendant, whether you have ever had an independent command yourself or not. Have you? Have you had an independent command, apart from your division? I think that was the last independent command you had. You have not had an independent command yourself, have you?

Do I not make myself clear?

A. I did not understand. What do you mean by "independent"?

Q. I mean that you have not been a commander or chief of an army or army group yourself, if I remember rightly, or of an area, have you?

A. No, I have not.

Q. I ask you to put yourself in General Christiansen's position. That answer of yours was a direct encouragement, practically amounting to an order, to shoot these railwaymen out of hand, was it not? "To take other effective, measures ruthlessly and independently."

A. That is explained by the form of summary court-martial procedure. It is not left to the discretion of the individual. jurisdiction of summary court was provided.

Q. Just look at the way it is put, defendant. I suggest to you that it is quite clear. One sentence states: "If handing over to the S.D. is impossible, owing to the military situation and the difficulty of communication, other effective measures are to be taken ruthlessly and independently."

Then, the next sentence: "There are, naturally" - look at the word "naturally." I suppose that it was "naturlich" in German. Is that correct?

[Page 82]

A. I have not got the word "naturlich" here. Two words, so far as I can make out, have been inserted.

Q. But it says: "There is, naturally, no objection to passing and executing death sentences by summary court- martial procedure." What you are saying is that, of course, there is no objection to a summary court-martial, but you are telling him, in addition to that, that he is to take effective measures ruthlessly and independently. If General Christiansen had shot these railwaymen out of hand, after getting that letter from you, neither you nor any other superior could have blamed him for it, could you?

A. According to the last sentence, he was obliged to carry out summary court-martial procedure. It says: "There are no objections to the executing of this sentence by summary court-martial procedure under such circumstances."

Q. But what did you mean by "effective measures to be taken ruthlessly and independently"? What did you mean by that, if it was only an ordinary summary court-martial procedure?

A. Not apart from summary court procedure, but by means of the same. That is what the last sentence means. It is also unusual to appoint a summary court in such cases.

Q. Yes, even on your basis, to use a military summary court- martial to shoot railwaymen who will not work is going rather far even for you, is it not?

A. That was a very severe measure, yes.

Q. Do you tell the Tribunal that when you make all these additions - taking you through the chain of additions that you make to the order replacing the "Nacht und Nebel" order, of which you disapproved, do you say that you went to Hitler for every one of these executive orders and answers that you made?

A. Yes. I went to him on the occasion of every one of these orders. I must emphasise the fact that I did not issue any of these orders without previously submitting them to the Fuehrer. I must expressly point out that that was so.

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, I think a misunderstanding has crept into the translation. The translation interprets "Standgericht," as "Summary Court-martial." I do not believe that the words "Summary Court-martial" reflect accurately what we understand in the German language by "Standgericht." I do not know just what you understand in the English or American language by "Summary Court-martial," but I can imagine that this means some summary procedure.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I was taking it in favour of the defendant that it meant the court he referred to yesterday, one officer and two soldiers. I was taking that. If I am wrong, the defendant will correct me. Is that right, defendant?

THE WITNESS: I described this "Standgericht" summary court- martial procedure briefly yesterday, and the criterion of a summary court-martial was that it was not always necessary for a fully trained legal expert to be present, although it was desirable.

THE PRESIDENT: While you are on the subject of translation, the defendant seemed to suggest that there was no word in the German which is translated by the English word "naturally." Is that true?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I had it checked, and I am told that the translation is right.

THE PRESIDENT: There is a German word which is translated by "naturally"? I should like to know that from Dr. Nelte.

DR. NELTE: I am told that a false conception or false judgement might be produced in this connection since in British and American law a summary court-martial has no right to pass sentence of death.

I am told that a "summary court-martial" -

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, Dr. Nelte; I did not ask that question. The question I asked you was whether there was any German word which is translated into English by the word "naturally." Is that not a clear question?

DR. NELTE: In the German text it says "under such circumstances, of course."

[Page 83]

I think the English translation is incorrect in using the word "naturally" and in putting it after "in these circumstances" at the beginning so that one is led to conclude that it means "there are naturally no objections ("es gibt natfirlich keme Einwendungen"), whereas the German text says "Against the passing and executing of death sentences by summary court-martial procedure there are, under such circumstances, of course, no objections." ("Gegen die Verhangung und Vollstreckung von Todesurteilen im standgerichtlichen Verfahren bestehen unter solchen Verhaltnissen selbstverstandlich keine Bedenken.")

THE PRESIDENT: Then the answer to my question is "yes." There is a word in the German which is translated "naturally."

DR. NELTE: Yes, but there is no translation of the words, or . . . The words "naturally" and "under such circumstances" are separated in the English version, while in the German version they belong together. "Naturally" refers to "under such circumstances."


Q. Now I want to come to another point. You told us yesterday that with regard to forced labour you were concerned in it because there was a shortage of manpower and you had to take men out of industry for the Wehrmacht. Your office was concerned with using military forces in order to try and round up people for forced labour, was it not?

A. I don't think that is quite the correct conception. The Replacement Office in the High Command of the Wehrmacht -

Q. If you are going to deny it, I put the document to you. I will put General Warlimont's views to you and see if you agree. I think it saves time in the end. Please look at Document 389-PS, which will be Exhibit GB 306-Page 9 of the English version. It is the report of a meeting at Berlin on 12th July, 1944. You have to look on through the document after the letters from the defendant Sauckel and the defendant Speer - the account of a meeting in Berlin. I think it is Page 10 of the German version. It starts with a speech by Dr. Lammers and goes on with a speech from the defendant Sauckel, then a speech from the witness Von Steengracht, then a speech from General Warlimont:

"The Deputy of the head of the O.K.W., General Warlimont, referred to a recently issued Fuehrer order." Have you found the portion? I will read it if you have.

A. Yes, I have found the paragraph "The Deputy of the Chief of the O.K.W."

Q. "The Deputy of the Chief of the O.K.W., General Warlimont, referred to a recently issued Fuehrer order, according to which all German forces had to participate in the task of raising manpower. Wherever the Wehrmacht was stationed, if it was not employed in pressing military duties (as, for example, in the construction of coastal defences), it would be available, but it could not be assigned expressly for the purpose of the G.B.A. General Warlimont made the following practical suggestions:

(a) The troops employed in fighting the partisans are to take over in addition the task of raising manpower in the partisan areas. Everyone who cannot give a satisfactory reason for his presence in these areas is to be seized.

(b) When large cities are wholly or partly evacuated on account of the difficulty of providing food, those members of the population suitable for labour are to be utilised for labour with the assistance of the Wehrmacht.

(c) The Refugees from the areas near the front should be rounded up with special vigour with the assistance of the Wehrmacht."

After reading this report of General Warlimont's words, do you still say that the Wehrmacht -

A. I am not aware that the Armed Forces have ever received an order mentioning the rounding up of workers. I would like to say that I know of no such demand and I have not found any confirmation of it. The conference as such is unknown to me and so are the proposals you mentioned. It is new as far as I am concerned.

[Page 84]

Q. It is quite clear that General Warlimont is suggesting that the Wehrmacht should help in the rounding up of forced labour, isn't it?

A. But as far as I know it has never happened. I do not know that such an order was given. According to the record, this is a proposal made by General Warlimont, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, perhaps in those circumstances you should read the three lines after the passage you have read.

Q. My Lord, I should. The next line: "Gauleiter Sauckel accepted these suggestions with thanks and expressed the expectation that a certain amount of success could be achieved by this means."

A. May I say something about that? May I ask that when the time comes Gauleiter Sauckel should be asked whether and to what extent troops of the Armed Forces did actually participate in such matters. It is not known to me.

Q. No doubt the defendant Sauckel will be asked a number of questions in due time. At the moment I am asking you. You say that you don't know anything about it?

A. No, I do not recollect that any order was given in this connection. I gather from the statement by Warlimont that discussions took place.

Q. Now I want to ask you a few questions about the murder of various prisoners of war. I want to get it quite clear. Did you mean yesterday to justify the order for the shooting of commandos, dated 18th October, 1942? Did you wish to say that it was right and justified, or not?

A. I stated yesterday that neither General Jodl nor I thought that we were in a position, or considered it possible, to draft or submit such a written order. We did not do it because we could not justify it or give reasons for it.

Q. The next question that I put to you is this: Did you approve and think right the order that was made that commandos should be shot?

A. I no longer opposed it, firstly on account of the punishment threatened and secondly because I could no longer alter the order without personal orders from Hitler.

Q. Did you think that that order was right?

A. According to my inner conviction I did not consider it right, but after it had been given I did not oppose it or take a stand against it in any way.

Q. You know that your orders have contained provisions for the use of parachutists being dropped for sabotage purposes, don't you? Don't you remember in the "Fall Grun" against Czechoslovakia? I would put it to you if you like, but I would so much prefer that you try to remember it yourself. Don't you remember that your own orders contained a provision for parachutists being dropped for sabotage purposes in Czechoslovakia?

A. No.

Q. You don't?

A. No, I do not remember the order.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I refer you to it. My Lord, it is Page 21 and 22 of the document book.

THE WITNESS: Which document book, please?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: It ought to be your first document book, and quite early on. It is part of the "Fall Grun," which is Document 388-PS, and it is item 11. I think it is somewhere about Page 15 or 16 or 20. You remember the Schmundt minutes and then it is divided into items. The Tribunal will find it at the foot of Page 21:

"For the success of this operation, co-operation with the Sudeten German frontier population, with deserters from the Czechoslovakian Army, with parachutists or airborne troops, and with units of the sabotage service will be of importance."
THE WITNESS: May I read the paragraph which I think you mean?

[Page 85]

Q. Yes; it is headed "Missions for the Branches of the Armed Forces.

A. "Missions for the Branches of the Armed Forces." It states:

"For success, co-operation with the Sudeten German frontier population, and the deserters from the Czechoslovakian Army, with parachutists or airborne troops and with units of the sabotage service can be of importance."
These parachutists and airborne troops were in fact to be set to work on frontier fortifications, as I explained yesterday, since army authorities believed that the artillery resources at our command were insufficient to permit of our combating them with artillery.

This does not mean parachutists or saboteurs but actual members of the German Air Force, and the sabotage service is mentioned at the end.

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