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 Second Day: Monday, 8th April, 1946
(Part 1 of 11)

[Page 93]




Q. I want to ask you some questions about the shooting of officers who escaped from Sagan Camp. As I understand your evidence, very shortly after the escape, you had this interview with Hitler, at which certainly Himmler was present. That is right, isn't it?

A. The day after the escape, this conference took place with the Fuehrer and with Himmler.

Q. Yes. Now, you say that at that conference Hitler said that the prisoners were not to be returned to the Wehrmacht but to remain with the police. Those were really your words. That is right, isn't it?

A. Yes.

Q. That is what you said. So that is what you say took place. In your own mind you were satisfied, when you left that conference, that these officers were going to be shot, were you not?

A. No, that I was not.

Q. Now, will you agree with this? You were satisfied that there was a grave probability that these officers would be shot?

A. As I rode home I had a subconscious concern about it. It was not decided at the conference.

Q. Then you sent for General von Graevnitz and General Westhoff, did you not?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. I don't know if you can remember, because General Westhoff was a comparatively junior officer compared with yourself, but he says that it was the first occasion on which you had sent for him. Does your memory bear that out?

A. No, I did not call him. But he had been brought along to be introduced to me. I did not know him. I had only summoned General von Graevnitz.

Q. You had never met him before? Do you agree that you had never met General Westhoff before?

A. I had never seen him before.

Q. That is what he said. Now you agree, as I understand your evidence, that you were very excited and nervous?

A. Yes, I was exceedingly irritated and excited.

Q. So that you agree with General Westhoff that you said something to this effect, "Gentlemen, this is a bad business" or "This is a very serious matter" or something of that kind?

A. Yes, I said that it was an unusually serious matter.

Q. Now, General Westhoff says in the next sentence that what you said was "This morning Goering reproached me in the presence of Himmler for having let some more prisoners of war escape. It was unheard of."

A. That must be a mistake on Westhoff's part. It was a day later. We were then at Berchtesgaden and General von Graevnitz and Westhoff called on me

[Page 94]

the next morning. And it must also be a mistake that I mentioned the name of the Reich Marshal Goering in this connection.

Q. So you weren't very sure about that, were you, as to whether or not Goering was present. You weren't very sure, were you?

A. I only became uncertain about it when, in a preliminary interrogation, I was told that witnesses had stated that Goering was present; thereupon I said it was not completely impossible but that I did not recall it.

Q. Well, to put it quite right. When you were interrogated an American officer put exactly the sentence that I put to you now. He put that sentence to you from General Westhoff's statement. Do you remember that he read what I have read to you now? "Gentlemen, this is a bad business; this morning Goering reproached me in the presence of Himmler for having let some more prisoners of war escape. It was unheard of." Do you remember? The interrogator put that to you, didn't he?

A. It was something like that at the preliminary interrogation, but I said that I was not certain that Goering was present.

Q. I was going to put exactly what you said - and you listen carefully, and if you disagree, tell the Tribunal. You said, "I request that you interrogate Jodl about the whole incident and the attitude which I displayed during the whole conference in the presence of Goering, of whose presence during that conference I am not absolutely certain, but Himmler was there." That was your view when you were interrogated on 10th November, wasn't it? You said "... during the whole conference in the presence of Goering, of whose presence I am not absolutely certain. ..." That was your view on 10th November?

A. There must have been some misinterpretation in the minutes, which I never read. I expressed my uncertainty about the presence of Goering and in the same connection put the request to interrogate General Jodl about it, since my memory was faulty.

Q. You agree that you did ask that General Jodl should be interrogated?

A. I made that proposal, yes.

Q. Well now, what do you complain about as to the next sentence? "During the whole conference in the presence of Goering, of whose presence during that conference I am not absolutely certain." Wasn't that your view?

A. Yes, I was rather surprised at this interrogation and when I was told that witnesses had confirmed that Goering had been present I was a little uncertain in this matter and asked that General Jodl be interrogated. In the meantime it became entirely clear to me that Goering was not present and that what I said at first was correct.

Q. Had you discussed it with Goering while you were both awaiting trial?

A. After my interrogations I had the occasion to speak with the Reich Marshal and he told me: "But you must know that I wasn't there," and then I remembered fully.

Q. Yes, as you say, the Reich Marshal said to you he had not been present at the interview. That is right, is it not?

A. General Jodl also confirmed to me that the Reich Marshal was not present.

Q. Well now, did you tell General von Graevnitz and General Westhoff that Himmler had interfered and that he had complained that he would have to provide another sixty to seventy thousand men for the Landwache? Did you tell them that?

A. No, that is also a misinterpretation. I did not say that. It is not true.

Q. You said that Himmler had interfered.

A. I said only that Himmler had reported the fact of the escape and I intended not to report it to Hitler on that day since a number of escapees had been returned to the camp. I did not intend to report to the Fuehrer on that day.

[Page 95]

Q. Now, whatever you said to General von Graevnitz, you agree that General von Graevnitz protested and said:
"Escape is not a dishonourable offence, that is laid down clearly in the Convention."
Did he not say that?

A. Yes, it is true he said that. But I would like to add that the statement of General Westhoff is a reminiscence which goes back over several years.

Q. Yes, but you agree, as I understand your evidence, that General von Graevnitz did make a protest about the action that was taken, is not that so?

A. Yes, he did so.

Q. And then when he made the protest did you say words to this effect - I am reading, of course, from General Westhoff's statement:

"I do not care a damn. We discussed it in the Fuehrer's presence and it cannot be altered."
Did you say words to that effect?

A. No, it was not like that, but I do believe I said something similar.

Q. Similar?

A. But we are not concerned with -

Q. Similar, to that effect?

A. I said something similar.

Q. And after that did you say that your organisation, the Kriegsgefangenenwesen, was going to publish a notice in the prison camps where prisoners of war were held, telling all prisoners of war what action had been taken in this case in order that it would be a deterrent to other escapes?

Did you instruct these generals, your heads of the Prisoner of War Organisation, to publish a notice in the camps saying what action had been taken in order to act as a deterrent?

A. I gave this due consideration while reading a report by the British Government and I came to the conclusion that there must be some confusion as to when I gave these instructions. I am quite sure I did not do so at this conference. That was later, several days later.

Q. Well, you will find it is stated in the statement of General Westhoff that we put in, at the bottom of Page 3. General Westhoff says:

"The Field Marshal gave us detailed instructions to publish a list at the camps, giving the names of those shot as a warning. That was done. That was a direct order that we could not disobey."
And in the statement which your counsel has put in, General Westhoff says:
"This must stop. We cannot allow this to happen again. The officers who have escaped will be shot. I must inform you that most of them are already dead and you will publish a notice in the prison camps where prisoners of war are held telling all prisoners of war what action has been taken in this case in order that it may be a deterrent to other escapes."
A. May I make a statement regarding this?

DR. NELTE (counsel for defendant Keitel): The British Prosecutor is referring to a document which I submitted in my document book. I assume that is correct. And it is a document which the French Prosecution wanted to submit and which I objected to, since it is a compilation of interrogations which Colonel Williams prepared. I submitted this document so as to furnish proof at the hearing of General Westhoff that this document does not agree in 23 points with the testimony given by him. He has given me the necessary information. He will be first in the witness box tomorrow. I therefore ask, if the British Prosecutor appeals to the witness Westhoff, for production at least of his statement which he made under

[Page 96]

oath at the request of the American Prosecutor Colonel Williams. This affidavit up to now has not been produced whereas all other pieces of evidence from him only contain reports which have never been submitted to Westhoff for his signature or for his acknowledgement nor have been confirmed by his oath.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My point was to make quite clear that I was not putting anything in from the first statement which was not contained in the defendant's document book. I thought that the complaint would be the other way, that if I took our own evidence alone that then it would be said that it is slightly different, for the difference is immaterial from the documents submitted in the defendant's document book. I have carefully collated them both. There is practically no difference between them but I thought it was only fair to put both sets of words.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks the cross-examination is perfectly proper. Of course if Dr. Nelte does call General Westhoff as a witness, he will be able to get from him any corrections which General Westhoff thinks are necessary to the affidavit.



Q. Now, what I want to know is: Did you give orders to General von Graevnitz and General Westhoff to have published in the camps the measures which had been taken with regard to these officers?

A. Yes, but several days later; not on the same day that these officers were with me.

Q. How long later?

A. I believe three or four days later, but I can no longer tell you exactly. In any event, not before I found out that shootings had taken place.

Q. Well, three or four days later would be just when the shootings were beginning, but what was published? What did you say was to be published as to the measures that were to be taken?

A. In the camp a warning was to be published. In my opinion, we were not to mention shootings but only warn that those caught in flight would not be returned to the camp. I cannot remember the exact wording. It was traceable to an order which I had received from the Fuehrer regarding a conference I had with him on the matter of shootings.

Q. Well, is this a fair way to put your recollection of the order, that it was probable, according to your recollection, that those who attempted to escape would be handed over to the S.D. and that certainly very severe measures would be taken? Is that a fair way of putting your recollection of the order?

A. My recollection is that a warning, that is a threat, was to be published to the effect that those who attempted to escape would not be returned to the camp. That was the contents of this publication, according to my recollection, which I then forwarded. I myself did not word it. Besides, only the administration of the camp and the Luftwaffe were to be notified.

Q. Now, General Westhoff was not content with an oral order and came back to you with a draft order in writing, did he not?

A. I do not believe that he came to me. I believe he sent me it.

Q. I'm sorry, but when I said "Came back to you," I was talking generally. You're quite right that he passed on for your consideration a draft order in writing for you to approve. That's right, isn't it?

A. I do not believe that it was an order. As far as I remember it was just a memorandum, a note. However, I must add that I was first reminded of this matter in the course of the interrogation by Colonel Williams.

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