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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Tenth Day: Wednesday, 17th April, 1946
(Part 4 of 13)

[MR. DODD continues his cross examination of Alfred Rosenberg]

[Page 58]

Q. Just before you do that - you will have an opportunity; I won't stop you on any explanations or even attempt to - I have one or two things I would like to ask you about, and then if you feel the need to explain them or anything else I feel sure the Tribunal will permit you to do so. You had written a letter in answer to the Bormann letter, hadn't you?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And you had agreed with these - if I may use the term - shocking suggestions of Bormann? In your letter you had agreed with these shocking suggestions of Bormann? Yes or no.

A. I wrote an appeasing letter so that I could bring about a lessening of the constant pressure which was being put upon me, and I would like to anticipate and say that my activity, and the decrees which I issued after this letter, did not change in any way; but, on the contrary, decrees were issued setting up a school system and developing further the health services. I will discuss it later in my reply.

Q. You wrote this letter to the Fuehrer; you didn't write it to Bormann, did you? Your answer went to Hitler?

A. I wrote my reply to the Fuehrer, yes.

Q. And you were appeasing the Fuehrer as well, were you, when you included the phrases such as are repeated in this letter about the use of contraceptives and abortion?

A. No ...

Q. Wait until I finish. I was saying in your letter to the Fuehrer, you repeated those horrid suggestions of Bormann's didn't you - those nasty, horrid suggestions of Bormann, I might say? You wrote them to Hitler?

A. I wrote a letter to the Fuehrer, but did not use the wording of Bormann's letter. I wrote appeasingly to the Fuehrer that I was riot doing any more than could and had to be done. I wanted to ward off an attack from headquarters, for I knew it would come because I did more for the Eastern peoples than for the German people - I was demanding more doctors than the German people had for their sick, that I was doing more in my capacity as Minister for the Eastern Territories for the health problem and thereby for the Eastern people than German doctors could do for the German people. The attack had reached

[Page 59]

such proportions that Koch finally accused me of favouring a policy of immigration. That was the reason why the conflict arose shortly thereafter and was brought to the Fuehrer.

Q. Just so that there will be no doubt about this - I don't want there to be any misunderstanding and nobody else does- are you telling us that you didn't write to the Fuehrer almost word for word what Bormann wrote to you?

A. I do not have the letter here verbatim.

Q. But you have the Markull memorandum here, which says that the Minister raises no objections against Bormann's principles or even his phraseology. Now surely one of your subordinates would not be impertinent enough to write you a memorandum like that unless it was perfectly true that you had done so?

A. My collaborators always had the courage to contradict me and give me their opinion, even concerning something I myself requested. Dr. Leibbrandt came and said to me, "Herr Reich Minister, that certainly is not in accord with what we are all doing." I said, "Dr. Leibbrandt, please calm yourself. I have written an appeasing explanation. Nothing will be changed. I will also speak to the Fuehrer later personally about these matters."

Q. Your subordinate was not afraid to tell you that you had written such a letter in which you agreed word for word with Bormann. I have no trouble with you on that score. That is all I am trying to get you to tell this Tribunal, because it is true that you did write back expressing these sentences, word for word.

A. That is not correct. Dr. Leibbrandt, when be gave me this memorandum, read it through in a hurry saying there seemed to be a gentleman who believed that I could not do anything else but what I considered right. I pointed out that in this case I had a serious conflict in front of me, but that I would maintain my position as I considered it right. That may be seen in the documents I read yesterday. May I give my opinion now on this document?

Q. Answer this question: Who were you appeasing, Hitler or Bormann, or both of them?

A. First of all my collaborator, Leibbrandt. I concurred with him in the idea that ministerial decrees in that sense would never be released by me. Secondly, I issued decrees redeveloping the school system in the Ukraine, including a four-year basic school, trade school, and trade high school.

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. That is not an answer to the question. You said that you wrote an appeasing answer. The question is whom were you trying to appease. Was it Hitler or was it Bormann or was it both?

A. Yes, both of them. Yes.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, would this be a convenient time to break off?


(A recess was taken.)

DR. SEIDL (Counsel for the defendant Dr. Frank): Mr. President, I have state [sic] yesterday that the document books for Frank have already been translated. However, it appears - I have just found this out - that the document books are not yet bound because the office authorised to do that has not yet received permission from another authoritative office. Perhaps the Tribunal could order the binding of the document books, otherwise the whole translation is useless.


MR. DODD: I didn't know there was any delay but I will see to it right away that they get it as far as we are able to do it.

THE WITNESS: May I say something about this document? This memorandum, as I stated in the beginning, is based on the supposition of a possible ministerial decree. It obviously uses phrases which Bormann had used in his

[Page 60]

letter, but my letter which I sent to the Fuehrer cannot possibly contain these phrases. It will have contained appeasing statements to the effect that I did nothing in the occupied Eastern Territories to give cause for reproach; that is to say, that I did nothing for the German population but that I established large health departments, school departments, education departments, etc.; and that now I was absolutely compelled to modify the activities of these administrative departments. But that Bormann made these statements, that he used these phrases! It is regrettable that he expressed himself in this way; and during the last few years we were compelled to experience an unnecessarily large number of similar instances.

I may add briefly that he himself stated that the Minister apparently intervened to clarify the position, but I want to indicate one decisive point, and that is, that the opinions advanced by Bormann were also held by Koch's circle. During these tragic years, my entire efforts were directed against Koch's personal circle, especially in the training of administrative leaders; and that can be seen from paragraph 3, where it says:-

"Moreover, at least eighty per cent. of the district commissars are opposed to the opinions described" -
MR. DODD: I think we all know what is in it. If you have any explanation, I think you ought to make it.

THE WITNESS: Yes. On Page 4, it says that the great majority of the administrative leadership corps puts its hopes in the Minister - that is, myself - and that I did everything in my power to fulfil the hopes of the administrative leadership corps, namely, by educating them by means of my decrees with regard to these thousands of people whom they could not know in the Eastern Territories, these thousands who, even in the fight against Bolshevism, sometimes had no very clear conception of the state of things in the East; and I must emphasise the fact that the author here says that the decree issued by the Minister on 17 March, 1942, re-emphasises his former decrees in a more rigorous form. The decree of 13 May, 1942, attacks the view that the Ukrainians were not a race at all and attacks the false conception of its inferiority. Thus, these are two decrees which I have not received and which are here; and furthermore, Mr. Prosecutor, I say that he points out quite correctly that, of course, the Minister - that is, myself - knows very well that such a continent has to be treated in a manner different to that indicated by the suggestions of which we have heard. As a consequence of these proceedings, however, I have positively established that, after that exchange of correspondence between Koch and Bormann, I introduced the orderly set-up of a school administration in the Ukraine by issuing a detailed decree. Secondly, I requested the extension of the -


Q. I am not interested in that. Just a minute.

A. Well, I have to answer these accusations.

MR. DODD: That is no answer to this, if your Honour please, and no explanation of this document. He is launching off on one of these long speeches again about what he did after the document was received or after he wrote the letter, and I ask that he be instructed to answer that question and not to go on into statements about what he did in the administration in the Ukraine. I don't think it is pertinent.

THE WITNESS: I spoke to the Fuehrer personally about this and told him with reference to the letter of May, 1943 - it is in my file - I told him that it was impossible to work in the East with this kind of talk from Koch and his following.

THE PRESIDENT: If there is a letter in your file or if there is not a letter in your file, your counsel can re-examine you upon cross-examination, but you

[Page 61]

cannot in cross-examination go into long explanations. You must answer the question yes or no and explain, if you must explain, shortly. You have been explaining this document for a long time.


Q. When did you first meet Erich Koch?

A. Erich Koch?

Q. Yes.

A. In the twenties. It may have been 1927 to 1928 ...

Q. Apparently you have known him, then, a great many years?

A. I haven't seen him often but as Gauleiter I talked to him personally now and again.

Q. When did he become a Gauleiter?

A. I believe in the year 1928 he became Gauleiter in East Prussia, but I cannot give the exact date.

Q. That is all right. I want an approximate date. Did you have much to do with him from the time that he was appointed Gauleiter, let us say, until 1940?

A. During the fighting years, I had practically nothing at all to do with him. Then later, after 1933, I talked to him several times.

Q. You had a pretty good knowledge, I assume, in any event, of his general reputation among his friends and acquaintances?

A. I knew Koch had a very mercurial temperament, going from one extreme to the other and hard to keep balanced, and was therefore not reliable in carrying out a steady policy.

Q. I take it from your answer, that you were not aware, however, before he became the Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine, of his temperament in this way, that you didn't know that he did these terrible things, which he did do, while Reich Commissioner in the Ukraine, did you?

A. No, and -

Q. That is an answer and there is no need to explain that.

A. I even knew that Koch had expressed the opposite opinion previously, and that he had said that the future problems of the youth of the East would be the same as those of German youth. He previously wrote that.

Q. So I take it you were surprised when this man turned out to be the kind of man that he did turn out to be. Is that a fair statement?

A. That only came out later little by little. Another person could not foresee that this impulsive temperament would lead to such results and it would not have gone that far had he not been supported by somebody else.

Q. You don't think he was quite so bad a man as appears from his record but was rather encouraged by some others. Is that what you are trying to tell us?

A. Yes, that of course contributed.

Q. I am going to ask that you be shown Document 1019-PS; it becomes Exhibit USA-823. By the way, before we look at that document, Koch is the man whom you blame to a very great extent for many of these terrible things that happened under your ministry in the Ukraine, isn't he? There isn't any doubt about that. You told us about that all day yesterday.

A. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, could you go just a little bit slower?

MR . DODD: Yes, your Honour, I will.

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