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 12 of 13)

[Examination of Hans Joachim Riecke continues]

[Page 91]

BY DR. STEINBAUER (Counsel for the defendant Seyss-Inquart):

Q. Witness, in your capacity as State Secretary for Agriculture, didn't you also go to Holland at the end of 1944 or the beginning of 1945?

A. Yes. At that time I was in the Netherlands.

Q. Was it not the case there on this occasion, that the Wehrmacht offices and the police had serious complaints about sabotage of Dutch agriculture by officials of responsible government agencies in Holland?

A. I do not remember a conversation of that kind.

Q. Do you know that the defendant Seyss-Inquart intervened for the reduction of food exports from Holland to Germany?

A. Yes, on various occasions, and also at that meeting to which this document refers.

Q. And that, in spite of complaints, he left the Dutch officials in the Food Department?

A. Yes, that is the case.

[Page 92]

DR. STEINBAUER: That is all.

DR. FLAECHSNER (Counsel for the defendant Speer): Mr. President, may I put several questions to the witness?


Q. Witness, could you give me information about the following questions? Did the inmates of concentration camps who worked in the armament industry get the same supplementary rations for heavy labour as the other workers?

A. During the time when I was concerned with these questions it was decided to give all prisoners, including concentration camp inmates, the same rations as the rest of the population if they were working. Therefore they must have received the same rations.

Q. Was the defendant Speer, or the ministry under his direction competent for the orderly maintenance of the rations in these industries, having regard to the fact that the latter - the industries - were in charge of the supplying of food?

A. No, Speer's ministry was not competent in these matters. As far as delivery and also demand was concerned, the food offices were competent. The distribution of delivered foodstuffs was the affair of the camp administrations or of the industries.

Q. And one further question. What measures had Speer taken in order to prevent a general food catastrophe which would have affected the millions of foreign workers in Germany?

A. Beginning in December, 1944, Speer purposely subordinated armament tasks to the problem of nutrition, with the expectation of a change-over to a new regime, a new administration by an occupying power. From this time on Speer gave food transport priority over arms transport. He saw to it that seed for the spring planting was distributed with the transportation means at his disposal. Speer emphatically advocated reconstructing food processing plants damaged by air attack even before armament plants, and above all, during that last phase, Speer helped us prevent the senseless destruction of food plants contrary to the instructions issued by Hitler. He did this with complete self-abnegation and without consideration for any possible consequences.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Thank you.

BY DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and the O.K.W.):

Q. Witness, did you participate in the Western campaign?

A. Yes.

Q. In what capacity?

A. As commander of a battalion in the field.

Q. During the Western campaign, did you receive any dubious commands, I mean to say, orders which were in violation of International Law?

A. I received no such orders.

Q. Did you have any reason to believe that looting was tolerated by higher military officials?

A. No. On the contrary, looting was strictly forbidden and punished.

Q. Later you were in the East also, but not as I have heard, as a soldier. Could you observe the operational areas there, as well as the regions governed by the commissariats?

A. Both were open to my observations.

Q. What was the treatment of the local population by the German soldiers?

A. Taken as a whole it can be said that, especially in the Ukraine, the treatment of the civilian population in the army's sector - in the operational

[Page 93]

area - was better than elsewhere; greater consideration was shown for the necessities of the civilian administration.

Q. And what do you think was the reason for that difference?

A. I attribute it to a different basic attitude of the soldier, who was free of political tendencies and also to the fact that the troops, of course, wanted to have peace and quiet in the rear areas.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution want to cross-examine?

MR. DODD: I can be through in two minutes, if your Honour please.


Q. Were you a member of the Nazi Party?

A. Yes.

Q. When did you join?

A. In 1925.

Q. 1925?

A. Yes.

Q. You were also a member of the S.A.?

A. Yes.

Q. What rank did you hold in the S.A.?

A. My last rank was Gruppenfuehrer of the S.A.

Q. Previously, you were a S.A. Sturmfuehrer, weren't you?

A. In 1930, yes.

Q. When did you become an S. S. Gruppenfuehrer?

A. In October, 1944.

MR. DODD: That is all. I have no other questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you any questions to ask in re- examination?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, that concludes your case on behalf of the defendant Rosenberg, does it not?

DR. THOMA: Mr. President, I would like to state that the Document Rosenberg-19, which General Rudenko referred to, was not submitted as an exhibit by me. Furthermore, I would like to say that a number of affidavits, which have been approved, have not been received as yet.

THE PRESIDENT: You can mention them later, of course.

DR. THOMA: I should further like to make the request that my Document Book No. 1 be not accepted in evidence, but considered the same as once before, that is as having general probative value according to the decision of 8 March, 1946; therefore, not as evidence, not as a matter of proof, but just as argument. I assume that it had been approved in this sense previously and that it was only rejected as evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: I anticipate that we shall not interfere in your argument.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: Mr. President, I should like to give a short explanation. The document under Exhibit Rosenberg-19 which represents a letter which Riecke addressed to Rosenberg, dated 12 March, 1943, was submitted by the defence Counsel, Dr. Thoma, and you can find it in the second Document Book on Page 42. It was translated into all four languages and is in possession of all the prosecutors, and the Tribunal, in its decision, accepted this document from the defence Counsel.

[Page 94]

THE PRESIDENT: General Raginsky, the position is this, that a document doesn't go into evidence unless it is offered in evidence. Dr. Thoma has not offered this document in evidence and I understand that the Soviet Prosecution has not offered it in evidence. If you want to offer it in evidence and the document is an authentic document, which I suppose it is, you can offer it in evidence.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: Yes. We didn't offer it as evidence, only because of the fact that it is already contained in the Document Book presented by the defence. Therefore we had no need to present it again. But if the defence Counsel Thoma refuses to present it, then we shall do it.

THE PRESIDENT: You are wrong in assuming this. You see, documents don't go into evidence unless they are offered in evidence. The fact that they are in the books doesn't mean that they are in evidence; therefore, if you want to offer it in evidence, you must do so.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: Yes, Mr. President, we are going to offer it in evidence now.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well; you will give it a USSR number.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: Yes, we are going to give it a USSR Exhibit number, and, with your permission, will offer it in evidence to-morrow.



THE PRESIDENT: Now, we will proceed to deal with the supplementary applications. The witness can retire.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship pleases, the first application is that of Dr. Seidl's with regard to two witnesses; first of all witness Hilger, who was previously granted as a witness for the defendant von Ribbentrop but withdrawn by Counsel on 2 April. I believe that the witness is in the United States and that there is a report that he is too ill to travel. But apart from that, my Lord, the purpose of the witness is to give evidence as to the discussions and treaty negotiations which took place in the Kremlin at Moscow before the German-Soviet agreement of 23 August, 1939, and the allegation states the conclusion of the alleged secret agreement dealt with in the affidavit of the witness Gauss.

My Lord, the other application is for a witness von Weizsaker, who is going to deal with the same point.

The prosecution, of course, loyally accepts the decision of the Tribunal on the admissibility of Gauss' affidavit, but I respectfully submit that that does not affect this point. What is desired is to call witnesses as to the course of the negotiations before these treaties, before an agreement was arrived at in respect to these treaties, and that is a point which we have had several times and, of course, while all circumstances have a slight difference, the Tribunal have, as far as I know, ruled universally up to now that they will not go into antecedent negotiations which have resulted in agreements.

There is also the position that, of course, Dr. Seidl put in the Gauss affidavit and he has had his opportunity to examine the defendant von Ribbentrop, and the prosecution respectfully submit that to call two secondary witnesses - without any disrespect to their position in the German Foreign Office, they are witnesses of a secondary importance compared with the defendant von Ribbentrop - to discuss these negotiations seems to the prosecution to be going into irrelevant matter and entirely unnecessary for the purposes of this case.

I confess I do not myself appreciate any special relevance that these witnesses could have to the case of Hess, but I do not put it so strongly on that ground.

[Page 95]

I put it on the ground which I have just outlined to the Tribunal.

With regard to the third application of Dr. Seidl, I am not quite sure whether he means that he wants the prosecution to provide him with an original or certified copy of the secret agreement, or whether he desires to tender a copy himself. But with regard to that again the prosecution take the line that that point, which after all is only one tiny corner of one aspect of the case, is sufficiently covered by the evidence which has already been brought out before the Tribunal from the affidavit of Ambassador Gauss and the evidence of the defendant Ribbentrop.

That is the position of the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Seidl?

DR. SEIDL (Counsel for defendants Hess and Frank): Mr. President, the affidavit of the Ambassador Dr. Gauss which has been accepted by the Tribunal as Exhibit Hess-16 describes only a part of the negotiations. Ambassador Dr. Gauss was not present at the negotiations which preceded the conclusion of the pacts. I have, therefore, made the additional application to call Legation Secretary Hilger as a witness, after he had already been approved as a witness for the defendant von Ribbentrop.

I have, furthermore, requested that the Tribunal procure the text of that secret supplementary agreement. I have to admit, however, that this request no longer has the importance it had at the time it was made. In the meantime we have received a copy of that secret agreement.

Furthermore, I have a copy of the secret supplementary agreement concerning the German-Soviet Frontier Pact of 28 September, 1939, and I have an affidavit by Ambassador Dr. Gauss of 1 April of this year certifying that these copies are identical with the text of the secret agreements drafted on 23 August and 28 September, 1939.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, have you any objection to that document being produced for the consideration of the Tribunal?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Not at all, my Lord. As I say, the Tribunal has considered our objection on relevance and we have lost on it, and therefore it is not really open to me to argue any question of the relevance of the document in view of the decision of the Tribunal.

The only point that I make is that if Dr. Seidl produces an alleged copy of the treaty, supported by an affidavit of Ambassador Gauss, then it immensely strengthens my argument, I submit, against him being allowed to call the witness.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The Soviet Prosecution, on the question which is now being discussed by the Tribunal today, has submitted a document to the General Secretariat of the International Military Tribunal. If this document is already in your possession then I need not talk about Our position here. But if you find it necessary, your Honours, I am going to set it forth here. We object on the grounds which are set forth in this document signed by General Rudenko.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you presenting an argument or a document of some sort?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: No, I am not going to argue about it and return to this question if you have this document.

THE PRESIDENT: You misunderstood me. You mentioned a document which you asserted was in the possession of the Tribunal. I am not aware that we have got any document from the Soviet prosecution. It may be that it has been received and if so we will consider it, of course.

[Page 96]

What I wanted to know is whether it was an argument or an original document of some sort.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The document deals with the official answer of the Soviet Prosecution on the question as to whether we consider it necessary to grant the request of Dr. Seidl regarding a group of questions connected with the German-Soviet Pact of 1939.

THE PRESIDENT: We will consider the document.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: You think it would be possible to be content with just the document which is in your possession now?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, certainly, unless you wish to say anything. We will consider the document.

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