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 Fourth Day: Wednesday, 10th April, 1946
(Part 4 of 11)

[DR. NELTE continues his cross examination of Adolf Westhoff]

[Page 201]

Q. During your interrogations, particularly the one by Colonel Williams, did

[Page 202]

you state clearly that it never had been a question of an order issued by Keitel himself or of an order which Keitel transmitted to you on higher orders?

A. It concerned information given to General von Gravenitz. That is also stated with no reservations in my sworn statement.

Q. Then, if I understand you correctly, you declare that Field Marshal Keitel never issued an order of his own, nor ever expressed the idea that he at all wanted to give you an order, regarding the shooting of the officers?

A. No, that also he could not do.

Q. During the previous interrogation by the prosecutor there was talk of a report which the camp commander at Goerlitz is supposed to have delivered to you, this is also in the notes. Did you ask for or receive a report from the camp commander?

A. I had no personal connection at all with the Goerlitz camp commander. That must be a confusion with the statement of the Swiss representative Naville.

Q. Is it correct that during the discussion between Keitel, General von Gravenitz, and yourself, two matters were brought up: (1) the case of the escaped Royal Air Force officers; and (2) the question as to what should be done in the future or how escapes should be prevented?

A. Yes, that is so.

Q. I now have a question to ask you which I request you to answer, if possible, with "yes" or "no." Is it true that in the case (1), namely, the affair of the fifty Royal Air Force pilots, the conversation consisted exclusively in divulging these facts and what had happened in the higher spheres of authority?

A. Yes.

Q. Did General Gravenitz, on the return from headquarters, not say to you: "What can we do at all if the Gestapo once gets things into its hands?"

A. Yes.

Q. In other words it is clear from your whole conversation with Keitel, that it was a question here of an order directed to Himmler from Hitler?

A. In regard to the shooting, yes.

Q. After Professor Naville visited the Sagan camp, did he say to you that his impression was that certain powerful forces were at work there against which the O.K.W. could do nothing?

A. Yes, he said that.

Q. With reference to the escaped pilots, did the O.K.W. have anything to do with regard to their capture or treatment; or was it clear that, in this respect, this matter was unfortunately settled so far as the O.K.W. was concerned?

A. The O.K.W. could do nothing further because the matter had been taken entirely out of its hands.

Q. Accordingly, then, it is not correct to say that, after this discussion between Keitel, Gravenitz and Westhoff, a conference was again called by the O.K.W.?

A. No, there was no further conference in the O.K.W.

Q. A document has been submitted in which Colonel Walde - it is Document D-731, Mr. President - in which Colonel Walde deposes - and, to be sure, be says at the beginning that he had to reconstruct what had happened from memory - according to his recollection, that the O.K.W. had called a conference which was held in the Prinz Albrecht Strasse. Do you know anything about that?

A. I only know about this conference from you yourself. It could not have been called by the O.K.W., for then it would have been held at the headquarters in Torgau. However, without a doubt, the conference in question was held in Berlin, as you told me, but it was not convened by the O.K.W.

Q. Is it correct that prisoner-of-war officers recaptured by the Wehrmacht were again put in the camp Sagan and also remained there?

A. Yes, that is right.

Q. Were recaptured prisoners of war who were turned over to the camp in any cases let out again?

[Page 203]

A. No.

Q. Is it, on the other hand, true that you gave the camp commander a strict order from the O.K.W. that recaptured prisoners should under no circumstances be let out of the camp again?

A. The order was not given to the camp commander by me, but to the section commanders in the military administrative districts (Wehrkreis) in charge of prisoners of war.

Q. And was passed on by them to the camp commanders?

A. Yes.

Q. An order was mentioned to the effect that the names of the escaped prisoners who had not come back were to be published. You stated before "as a warning." In order to clarify this question, the purpose of this order, which, of course, came from above, I should like to ask you whether Field Marshal Keitel did not say as justification: "I hope, however, that the prisoners will be so shocked by this that in future they will not try to escape any more"?

A. Yes, the Field Marshal said that.

Q. You deposed, or rather, it was read to you that Field Marshal Keitel said to you and General von Gravenitz that nothing should be put down in writing about the whole matter nor should it be discussed with any other office.

A. Yes.

Q. Is it then correct to say regarding this matter, namely, the conference, that you drew up a memorandum on it and submitted it to Keitel?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it correct that Field Marshal Keitel did not find fault with your action, as one might certainly really have expected, but wrote his initial "K" on the upper corner of this memorandum?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it furthermore correct that you, because you had to report on the affair, repeatedly got in touch with the R.S.H.A. in order to find out something about the fate of these poor officers?

A. Not only did I get in touch with the R.S.H.A., but, since I myself did not succeed in my object, I also turned the matter over to the Allgemeines Wehrmachtsamt but, as far as I know, it also failed to obtain the required information.

Q. Is it further correct that you asked the representative of the International Red Cross, Dr. Naville, to visit the camp Sagan in connection with this event?

A. I brought about this visit, yes.

Q. Is it furthermore true that Field Marshal Keitel called you up and told you that the Foreign Minister, in order to draw up a note of reply to England, had to have precise knowledge of the whole occurrence?

A. Yes.

Q. And that consequently you were to give the Foreign Office a detailed report of the occurrence?

A. Yes.

Q. Did Keitel say on this occasion that you were to conceal anything or to put anything in a false light?

A. No.

Q. Was the O.K.W. involved in the composition of the note as it was sent in final form?

A. No.

Q. Is it correct that your representative, Lieutenant- Colonel Krafft, was ordered by the Foreign Office to attend a meeting in Berchtesgaden for the sole purpose of supplying any correct information which might be required by the representative of the Foreign Office?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it correct that Lieutenant-Colonel Krafft reported to you that the Foreign

[Page 204]

Office had presented a note to Hitler and Hitler had rejected it, and then composed the text himself?

A. So far as I recall, that is right.

Q. The second part of the conferences between Keitel, Gravenitz and Westhoff concerned itself with the question of what action should be taken in the future. You stated in this connection that an order was to be drawn up and that it was a question of certain spheres of competence that had to be discussed with the R.S.H.A. Tell me in this connection, what, if anything, did the R.S.H.A. or Himmler have to do with the administration of prisoner-of-war camps?

A. Himmler was responsible for the security of the Reich and, in connection with the prisoners of war, had to concern himself with the search for all escaped prisoners.

Q. Did he, because of this, come into conflict in any way with your O.K.W. Department of Prisoner-of-War Affairs?

A. In so far as we often, whenever escaped prisoners of war were captured, asked what had been done with them and received no information.

Q. Does that mean that it was possible that Himmler or his office gave you no information when they caught prisoners of war?

A. That is absolutely possible and we often assumed as much.

Q. Did you on one occasion, while drawing up or drafting orders which were concerned with the treatment of escaped prisoners of war, use the words "Stufe III"?

A. No.

Q. Do you know whether the meaning of these words, signifying a death sentence, were known at all in the O.K.W.?

A. They were not known to me. I was asked about that in London the first time and stated that I could not give any information about them.

Q. When you say, you personally, then you probably mean the organisation as well, since you belonged to the organisation.

A. Yes.

Q. I have a document here, No. 1514-PS. It concerns a collective order of the Commander of Wehrkreis 6 regarding the treatment of escaped prisoners of war. You will see in this order a whole number of references to years as far back as 1942.

I ask you now, according to your knowledge and experience, would not an order, supposed to have been issued on 4th March, 1944, also have been entered here had its contents been very important?

A. If it was a question of a secret order, yes.

Q. It is in the German...

THE PRESIDENT: Just a minute, Dr. Nelte. Aren't you getting very far away from the subject upon which this witness was being examined? I mean, he was being examined about an interview which he had with the Field Marshal Keitel and here you are asking him about something which has nothing to do with that at all, as far as I am able to see.

DR. NELTE: I believe that I shall make clear that this has something to do with the second part of this conference, namely regarding the treatment of recaptured escaped officers. These are preparatory questions that I must ask to make clear, in my opinion ...

THE PRESIDENT: But it is a very long cross-examination of a witness whom you did not wish to call. The Tribunal wishes you to make your cross-examination as brief as possible.

DR. NELTE: I shall make it as brief as the interests of the defendant permit.


Q. Is it not customary in German commands that, in referring to an order issued by higher authorities, the date and archive number is given?

A. Yes, always.

[Page 205]

Q. Did you ever give to the representatives of the Protecting Powers or to the International Red Cross information about escaped prisoners of war who had been recaptured and of whom you knew but of whose recapture you had not been informed?

A. No.

Q. Do you know anything about - and here I have the last document shown you, 1650-PS -

(Witness is handed document.)

THE PRESIDENT: What was the point of showing 1514-PS to him? He has not been asked any relevant questions about it at all.

DR. NELTE: From this document I found corroboration of the answer of the defendant through the witness that if an order had been issued on 4th March, 1944, as it was presented here, it would have had to be contained in this document.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks it is a waste of time, Dr. Nelte.

DR. NELTE: I shall be through in a few minutes, Mr. President.


Q. Witness, would you please look on Page 3 of this document, under number two? It reads:

"The O.K.W. is requested to inform the prisoner-of-war camps that, in the interest of camouflage, the recaptured officers are not to be turned over directly to Mauthausen but to the local police authority."
Did you ever, during your activity in the O.K.W., know anything of such a request or such an order?

A. That is not familiar to me. That also took place at a time when I was not chief.

Q. But on taking over on 1st April 1944, you must have known of all important events or must have taken note of them?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ever find out in this connection that such a document had been presented?

A. No, I don't know of it.

Q. And now the last question. Look at the first page of this document. It is a teletype from the Chief of the Sipo and S.D. of 4th March, 1944. It reads in the first part as follows:

"The O.K.W. has ordered the following: Every recaptured escaped prisoner-of-war officer, etc., is, after he is recaptured, to be turned over to the chief of the Sipo and S.D. with the code word 'Stufe III.'"
The defendant Keitel has stated here that he does not know of such an O.K.W. order.

I ask you, did you find such a command, such an order in the files, in the file of previous orders of importance which must have been presented to you when you took over office on 1st April, 1944?

A. I did not find such an order, but it certainly existed.

Q. In what way?

A. So far as I recall General Gravenitz brought this order either from the Field Headquarters (Hauptquartier) or from the General Wehrmacht Office (Allgemeines Wehrmachtsamt).

Q. How is it possible, then, that such an order was not in your files?

A. Because there was an order that this order was to exist only orally.

Q. Then please tell me what the procedure was when such an order was to be given orally?

A. It could be transmitted orally.

Q. That is, to your office?

A. It was then transmitted through the Chief of Prisoner-of- War Affairs.

[Page 206]

Q. Chief?

A . Yes.

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