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 6 of 11)

[COLONEL POKROVSKY continues his examination of Adolf Westhoff]

[Page 209]

Q. Would you please confirm some of your answers to the questions that you were asked then? I will help you to recollect the questions that were put to you.

A. Yes.

[Page 210]

Q. In your section there were, as you stated, six different sub-divisions or departments?

A. Yes.

Q. You said that the first sub-division of the section, that is, I mean the section which you headed from 1st March, 1943, up to 31st March, 1944, was dealing with prisoners of war. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, the first sub-division of the Prisoner-of-War Department was concerned in general with the treatment of prisoners of war, and, in particular, with the questions of punishments, and legal proceedings. It was this sub-division that, was in constant touch with Counter-Intelligence Corps on the subject of the moods of the prisoners of war. Is that correct?

A. With Counter Intelligence, yes.

Q. Now in connection with the reply which you gave to that question, I would like you to state to the Tribunal, just how much or what did you know about the way the Soviet prisoners of war were treated, both in concentration camps and during transference from one camp to another.

A. As far as I know, until 1942, the Soviet prisoners of war were treated according to purely political considerations. After 1942 this was changed, and in 1943, as long as I was in the German High Command, Soviet prisoners of war were treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. That is to say, in all points their treatment was co-ordinated with that of other prisoners of war; their rations were the same as those of the others, and their employment and so on and so forth, and their treatment was in every detail in accordance with the treatment given to prisoners of war of other powers, with certain exceptions.

Q. If I am not mistaken, the fourth sub-division of your department was especially concerned with the questions of feeding and clothing the prisoners of war. Is that correct?

A. The task of Group IV related to matters of administration. It had to elaborate the instructions regarding rations, along with the Ministry for Food. It also had to deal with clothing.

Q. If I understand you correctly, you have stated that until you took charge of the Prisoner-of-War Department, the information which you received about the Soviet prisoners of war was to the effect that the Soviet prisoners of war were not treated according to International Law. Is that correct?

A. No, I said that prisoners of war during the first years were treated on the basis of political considerations, which originated not from the O.K.W. but from Hitler personally.

Q. In other words, just what do you want to say about that?

A. I want to say that they were not treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention until 1942.

Q. In other words, not according to International Law. Right?

A. I cannot give you any more detailed information on that, since at that time I was still serving at the front and did not know details regarding these regulations.

Q. Very well. Tell me, was there in the O.K.W. a special group or section which dealt exclusively with railway transportation of prisoners of war?

A. The O.K.W. had attached to me a group which dealt with the transport of prisoners of war. The transport itself was not a matter for the O.K.W. but a matter for the individual camp commanders.

Q. Are you aware under what conditions the transport of the prisoners of war from one camp to another took place?

A. Transports of prisoners of war were dealt with by the O.K.W. The organisation of such transports of prisoners was a matter for the individual camp commandants, who received their orders from the commanders of prisoners of war in the military administrative districts. The O.K.W. had nothing to do with the actual transport.

[Page 211]

Q. The question I asked is whether you were aware or were informed as to under what conditions the transporting from one point to another took place. Do you know that thousands of prisoners died en route from cold and hunger? Do you know anything about it at all?

A. The transports during which prisoners of war died can only be traced back to the earlier years when I was not yet in the High Command. As long as I was there, I had no reports saying that prisoners lost their lives in larger numbers. The orders which the O.K.W. gave regarding transports of prisoners of war were clear-cut, and the commanders of the camps concerned were made responsible for carrying out the transportations in an orderly and proper manner.

Q. You have just confirmed that you were aware of the fact that en route prisoners of war died by thousands. Now I would like you to look at a document, No. 201-PS, USSR 292. It consists, your Honours, of the minutes of a meeting of the Ministry of Economics. It has not been submitted to the Tribunal so far. It is dated 19th February, 10 a.m., 1942. The minutes were taken of the meeting which took place at the Ministry of Economics of the Reich. The report by Dr. Mansfeld, ministerial director to the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Man-power, was heard. The three lines which particularly interest me are underlined with red pencil on the copy that is before you now. Look at it, witness. It states there:

"The utilisation of the Soviet prisoners of war is particularly important today. It is senseless to transport man-power in open or unheated box-cars, for in that case all we unload are corpses."
Have you found this place?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you heard anything about transports of this kind, when in place of a train of living persons corpses were unloaded? Had you heard anything about that until you took charge of your particular job in the O.K.W.? Had anyone reported to you about these things?

A. I have heard nothing about these transports, as they did not come under the jurisdiction of the O.K.W., but came, as is clear from this document, into the sphere of the operational sectors. The jurisdiction of the O.K.W. comprised mainly the German Reich and the border States and only here did the O.K.W. have authority over the prisoners of war, not in the operational sector, nor in the rear army area. To this extent, it is a matter which did not come to the O.K.W. at all. We received the prisoners of war from the Army and then we were informed that we would receive so-and- so many prisoners of war and we took them into our camps. What happened in the operational sectors to those people, that we could not control in detail.

Apart from that, this story also goes back to 1942, to a time when I was still at the front.

Q. Look at the left side of the document at the top. There is a note there that this comes from the Ministry of War Economics and War Production, does it not? Left, at the top, under the number K 32/510.

A. My office never had anything at all to do with the Armament Department.

Q. Very well. Does it not seem to you that this document confirms the fact that O.K.W. knew about these transports?

No more questions, Mr. President, to this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, as this document has not been put in before and as it doesn't appear whether it has been translated, should you not read the first paragraph of it? It seems to contain material evidence.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I will read it now. The first paragraph of the document, the way it appears in the Russian translation, reads like this:

"Memorandum- Subject: Report of the Ministerial Director, Dr. Mansfeld,

[Page 212]

Plenipotentiary General for the allocation of Labour, on general questions regarding the utilisation of man-power.

Time: 19th February, 1942. 10.00 a.m.

Place: Reich Chamber of Economy.

Present: Dr. Grotius, W.I. Rue Amt K.V.R.

The present difficulties in the question of the utilisation of man-power would not have arisen had we decided in time to utilise the Soviet prisoners of war on a larger scale."

This is the first paragraph, Mr. President. Further down there are three lines which interest me in this document.
"There were 3,900,000 Russians at our disposal, at present there are only 1,000,000 left. During the period from November 1941 to January 1942 alone 500,00 Russians died."
Have I read sufficiently, Mr. President? It seems to me that that is clear, and further reading of the document is superfluous.



"It will be hardly possible to increase the number of employed Russian prisoners of war today. There are 400,000 working today. If the typhus cases do decrease there may be a possibility of employing from 100,000 to 150,000 more. Compared to that, the employment of Russian civilians is constantly gaining greater importance. There are, all together today, between 600,000 and 650,000 Russian civilians among whom 300,000 are skilled industrial workers and from 300,000 to 350,000 agricultural workers. The employment of these Russians is a question of transportation. It is useless to transport ..." and so on.
THE PRESIDENT: That's what you read before.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: That is right. I would like to direct your attention once more to the fact that there is a stamp on the document, "The Ministry of the War Economics and War Production at the O.K.W. ... " Left corner, at the top.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, that does not appear in our translation, but I expect you are right. At least, I don't see it. Could you let us see your document?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The original will be shown to you immediately. The stamp is at the top, in the left corner.

THE PRESIDENT: These letters and numbers indicate O.K.W. although they don't say it?


THE PRESIDENT: Why do you say that? I mean, the actual letters which are there look to me like Rue III Z St AZ i K 32/510 Wi Rue Amt/Rue III Z St?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: In deciphering these abbreviations, which was done by our American colleagues, the full significance of each word was given to me. I reported to the Tribunal according to the data which our American colleagues have. Those are the usual code abbreviations for the departments and sections of the Ministry of War Economics.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like you to ask the witness whether he knows anything about the employment of the man mentioned a little way further down at the right, Dr. Grotius. I'll ask him.


Q. Witness, do you know who Dr. Grotius was and whether he was employed in the O.K.W. or in the Army?

A. No, I have never heard the name Dr. Grotius; also never had anything to do with him.

Q. Have you got the document before you?

[Page 213]

A. No, I haven't got it any longer.

Q. I see, just look at it and see whether the letters which are put in the front of Dr. Grotius' name indicate that he was a member of the O.K.W.?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Mr. President, I did not put the question concerning Dr. Grotius to the witness, as the latter has already told me he only later, in 1943, entered the Army administration (Heeresleitung); whereas the document is dated 20th February, 1942.

THR PRESIDENT: Do those letters, in front of Dr. Grotius' name, indicate that he was in the O.K.W.?

A. I don't know what the letters are supposed to mean, the O.K.W. has also nothing at all to do with this matter.

Q. Do you know what the letters on the top left-hand side of the document mean? The ones I read out just now to you?

A. Rue III?

Q. Yes.

A. That is probably the Rearmament Department No. III. That's what it probably means.

Q. Well, that would be in connection with the O.K.W., would it not?

A. I could not say since I have never had anything to do with the Armament Departments. The German High Command of the Army (the O.K.W.), at least my office in it, had written communications only with the General Representatives for the Employment of Labour and the Ministry of Speer. Just how it was organised in detail is unknown to me.

Q. Did you know personally, or know of, Dr. Mansfeld?

A. I didn't understand the question.

Q. Did you know Dr. Mansfeld?

A. No, I didn't know him and I have never heard his name.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The question about Dr. Mansfeld could be asked, probably, of Herr Sauckel.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, technically speaking, the Tribunal can't accept from you that these letters at the top mean the O.K.W. It may be perfectly true, but you can't give evidence about it. So you can prove it some other way perhaps.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Here the scheme of the O.K.W. has been reported to the Tribunal. Those persons who deciphered the letters are sufficiently competent in this matter, and it seems to me that the witness's affirmation in the Court fully proves that the document in question concerns Section III of the O.K.W. as he calls it. But generally speaking, it would, of course, be quite easy to prove by comparing it with the scheme of the O.K.W. We will do it.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness can retire.

The Tribunal will adjourn now, and will want the other witness, Wielen, here at 2.00 o'clock.

(A recess was taken.)

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I don't know if your Lordship wanted the words for which these short collections of letters stand. I have them if your Lordship wants them; on the last Document, 1201-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, thank you very much, yes.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I think all that your Lordship need look at is where the name Dr. Grotius appears.


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The "Wi Rue Amt" is the "Wirtschaftsrustungsamt," the Economic and Armaments Office, which is, your Lordship will remember, General Thomas's department of the O.K.W.

My Lord, the other, letters, "KVR," are Kriegsverwaltungsrat, War Administration Counsellor.

[Page 214]

My Lord, I don't think there could be any dispute that the document comes from General Thomas's department of the O.K.W.


DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the O.K.W.): Mr. President, may I say something in regard to this document. I only want to point out certain considerations. It must be ascertained from where the heading comes, that is, the first line. The heading of the second section, which Sir David just referred to, begins with the letters "AZ." AZ (Aktenzeichen) means "file number," in other words, a reference to a letter from the Economic and Armaments Office. However, it does not explain the author of this document, which can only be ascertained when we find out what the heading, or the first line, means.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, do you understand it?

DR. LATERNSER: Yes, I understand it.

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