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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th May to 6th June, 1946

One Hundred and Forty-Fifth Day: Monday, 3rd June, 1946
(Part 6 of 9)

[Page 276]


Q. Will you state your full name?

A. Alfred Jodl.

Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. General, in the English-American trial brief it says that you are sixty years old. That is a mistake. You became fifty-six recently. You were born when?

A. I was born in 1890, on the 10th of May.

Q. You were born in Bavaria, and both of your parents are descended from old Bavarian families; you chose the military profession; and what was the chief reason for your choice?

A. A great-grandfather of mine was an officer; my father was an officer; an uncle was an officer; my brother became an officer; my future father-in-law was an officer; I might say that the soldier profession was in my blood.

Q. And now I should like to hear something about your political attitude. Which of the political parties which existed in Germany before 1933 were you closest to in spirit?

A. As an officer all party politics were rather remote to me. And especially the offshoots of the post-war period! If I look at the background from which I come, the attitude of my parents, I must say that I would have been closest to the National Liberal Party and its views. In any event, my parents never voted for any party other than that of the National Liberals.

Q. Tell us in a few words what your attitude to the Weimar Republic was.

A. True to my oath I served the Weimar Republic honestly and without reservation. If I could not have done that I would have sent in my resignation. Furthermore, a democratic system and such a constitution was inwardly nothing at all foreign to us southern Germans, for our monarchy was also democratic.

Q. And what was your relationship to von Hindenburg?

A. I knew von Hindenburg. I was assigned to him after his first election to the Reich presidency when he spent his first vacation in Dietramszell. Then I spent a day with the Hindenburg family at their estate Neudeck, in the company of Field Marshal von Mannstein.

I can merely say that I admired him; and when he was elected Reich president for the first time, I considered that the first symptom of the recovery of the German people.

Q. What was your connection with the National Socialist Party?

A. The National Socialist Party I hardly knew and hardly noticed before the Munich Putsch. This Putsch drew the Reichswehr* by force into this internal political development. At that time, with few exceptions, it met the test of obedience. But after this Putsch there was a certain cleavage in the views of the officer corps. [NB. Reviewer's note :Reichswehr - the army of 100,000 men permitted Germany by the Versailles Treaty.]

There were various opinions about Hitler's worth or lack of worth. I was still extremely sceptical and opposed. I was not reassured until Hitler,

[Page 277]

during the Leipzig law suit, gave the assurance that he was opposed to any disorganisation of the Reichswehr.

Q. Did you attend meetings at which Hitler spoke?

A. No, never.

Q. Tell us which leaders of the party you knew before 1933.

A. I knew only those who had previously been officers: for example, Epp, Huhnlein and Roehm But I no longer had any connection or contact with them after they left the Reichswehr.

Q. Before the seizure of power had you read the book Mein Kampf?

A. No.

Q. Did you read it later?

A. I read parts of it later.

Q. What was your opinion on the Jewish question?

A. I was not anti-Semitic. I am of the opinion that no Party, no State, no people, and no race, not even cannibals, are per se good or bad, but only the single individual. Of course, I knew that Jewry, after the war and in the symptoms of moral disintegration that appeared after the first World War, came to the fore in Germany in a most provocative fashion. And that was not anti-Semitic propaganda; those were facts, which were regretted very much by Jews themselves. Nevertheless, I was most sharply opposed to any outlawing by the State of the Jews, any general programme and any excesses against them.

Q. The prosecution asserts that all the defendants cried, "Germany awake, death to Jewry."

A. As far as I am concerned, that assertion is wrong. At every period of my life I associated with Jews individually. I was a guest of Jews, and certain Jews visited my home. But those were Jews who recognized their fatherland. They were Jews whose human value was undisputed.

Q. Did you on occasion use your influence on behalf of Jews?

A. Yes, that too.

Q. Did you know that the Reich Cabinet in the year 1932 reckoned on the possibility of attempts at overthrow of the government and sought to save itself?

A. I knew that well, for at that time, when I came to Berlin, I did not find in the later operational division any preparations for war; but I found preparations for the use of the Reichswehr in the interior of the country, against the extreme leftists as well as the extreme rightists. There were plans for manoeuvres of some sort in this connection, in which I myself participated.

Q. What was your attitude to the appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor in the year 1933?

A. The appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor was a complete surprise to me. That evening, as I was returning home with a comrade, through the excited crowds, I said to him, "This is more than a change of government; it is a revolution. Just how far it will lead us we do not know." But the fact that Hindenburg had legalised this revolution, and the names of such men as von Papen, von Neurath, Schwerin Krosigk, exerted a reassuring influence on me and gave me a certain guarantee that there would be no revolutionary extremes.

DR. EXNER: At this point I should like to read a part of General Vormann's interrogatory. This is Page 208 of the third volume of my Document Book. I should like to call the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that Page 208 in the upper left-hand corner - I submit the original - refers to the period from 1933 on. Jodl was then in the unit office (Gruppenamt) and Vormann was in his group. I read under point 2:

"Jodl, who at that time was a major in the General Staff, was my unit (Gruppe) leader in 1933. He shared completely the view of the Chief of the Army Command at that time, General von Hammerstein, and was thoroughly opposed to Hitler and the Party."
I shall now omit a few lines; they are not so important. Then in the centre of Page 1 continue:

[Page 278]

"When on 30th January, 1933, Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor, Jodl was dismayed and astonished. I clearly recall that on the 30th or 31st of January, upon his request, I had to call together the officers of his unit for a conference. At this conference he explained: Hitler has been called to the head of the Reich according to the existing constitution and the laws in force. It is not for us to criticise this, particularly the behaviour of Reich President and Field Marshal von Hindenburg. We must obey and do our duty as soldiers. Criticisms on the sort of new measures initiated by the new chancellor are not to be made, for they are inconsistent with his and our own position.

His entire speech showed great worry and apprehension in regard to the coming development of the situation"; and so forth.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, this would be a convenient time to break off.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

THE PRESIDENT: Now, Sir David, you were going to deal with these applications.


I wonder if I might leave, for the moment, No. 1, which my friend, General Rudenko, will deal with, so that I might deal with the ones with which I am concerned?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The second one is on behalf of defendant Kaltenbrunner and is an application to cross-examine three witnesses whose affidavits were used by the prosecution. The first is Tiefenbach, and he dealt with conditions at Mauthausen; the second, Kandruth, who dealt with the same subject; the third, Stroop, dealt with the reception of orders from the defendant Kaltenbrunner by Stroop as SS and Polizeifuehrer in Warsaw. The prosecution submits that in these cases cross-examination by way of interrogatories would be sufficient. Next, I do not know if -

THE PRESIDENT: Interrogatories are all they asked for, certainly in the case of - in all three.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: We will have no objection to cross-interrogatories so long as they are not brought here as witnesses.

My Lord, the next application is on behalf of the defendant von Neurath to use M. Francois Poncet as witness. The prosecution will be grateful if the Tribunal would allow that to stand over for a day or two, as my French colleagues are awaiting instructions from Paris at the moment and they have not got a reply yet. I do not think it will prejudice the defendant von Neurath's case.

Then, my Lord, the next is an application on behalf of the defendant von Schirach. I think that all that is now wanted is to use an affidavit from Dr. Otto Wilhelm von Volcano. The affidavit is twelve pages long and is a highly academic statement on the educational philosophy underlying the Adolf Hitler schools. The prosecution feel that the matter has been thoroughly covered by the defendant von Schirach himself and also by his witnesses, Hopken and Lauterbacher, and thus the affidavit would be cumulative and repetitive. But of course it is an affidavit; it is not a question of an oral witness, and if the Tribunal feel that they ought to have it, the prosecution do not wish to press their objection unreasonably.

THE PRESIDENT: Has the affidavit been translated yet?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Well, I have certainly got an English translation - I have read the English translation of it, my Lord, so I assume that it has been translated into the other languages.

[Page 279]

The next, applications from the defendants Hess and Frank to put an interrogatory to General Donovan. If I may put the objection quite shortly, that raises the same point as the application on 2nd May, 1946, for Mr. Patterson, of the United States War Department, and the objection of the prosecution is the same as I made on that occasion, that when you are cross-examining a witness as to credibility, you are bound by his answer and should not, in the opinion of the prosecution, be allowed to call evidence to contradict him. So it is on exactly the same point, the relationship between the witness Gisevius and the United States Office of Strategic Services.

The next application is on behalf of the defendant Speer for the approval of certain documents which are in his possession. The prosecution has no objection to the application. They reserve the right to make any individual objection when the documents are produced at the trial.

My Lord, the next is a purely formal application on behalf of the defendant Jodl, whose case is now before the Tribunal, to use an affidavit of Dr. Lehmann. There is no objection to that.

Next is the application on behalf of the defendant Hess -

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, that application we have already heard. We have heard the arguments for that in full and the Tribunal will consider that.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship pleases.

Then I think that only leaves an application of the defendant Keitel for the use of a decree of Hitler of 20th July, 1944, and the prosecution has no objection to that.

My Lord, I think I have dealt with every one except the first one, which my friend, General Rudenko, will deal with, the application of the defendant Goering.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Members of the Tribunal, the Soviet prosecution has several times expressed its view respecting the application of defence counsel to call, witnesses in regard to the mass shooting of Polish officers by the fascist criminals in Katyn Forest. Our position is that this episode of criminal activity on the part of the Hitlerites has been fully established by the evidence presented by the Soviet prosecution, which was a communication of the Special Extraordinary State Commission investigating the circumstances of the mass shooting of Polish officer prisoners of war by the German-fascist aggressors in Katyn Forest. This document was presented by the Soviet prosecution as Exhibit USSR-54, on 14th February, 1946, and was admitted by the Tribunal; and, as provided by Article 21 of the Charter, it is not subject to argument.

Now the defence counsel once again is putting in an application for calling of three supplementary witnesses - a psychiatrist, Stockert, a former adjutant of the Pioneer Corps, Bohmert, and a special expert of the staff of the Army Group Centre, Eichhorn.

We object to calling these three witnesses to the court session for the following reasons:

Calling of the psychiatrist Stockert as a witness should be considered completely pointless since the Tribunal cannot be interested in the question of how the commission drew its conclusion - a conclusion which was published in the Hitler White Book. No matter how this conclusion was drawn, the fact of the mass shooting of Poles by Germans in Katyn Forest has been unequivocally established by the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission.

Stockert himself is not a doctor of forensic medicine but a psychiatrist - at that time member of the Hitler Commission not on the basis of his competence in the field of medical science, but as a representative of the German-fascist military command.

The former adjutant, Captain Bohmert, himself was a participant in the crimes of Katyn Forest, having been a member of the Pioneer Corps which carried out the executions. Since he is an interested party, he cannot give any testimony useful in clarifying the circumstances of this matter.

[Page 280]

Third, the expert of the staff of the Army Group Centre also cannot be admitted as a witness because he, in general, knew nothing at all about the camp of the Polish prisoners of war, and could not have known all that pertained to the matter. The same reasons apply to his potential testimony on the fact that the Germans have never perpetrated any mass shooting of Poles in the district of Katyn. Moreover, Eichhorn cannot be considered an unprejudiced witness.

Regardless of these objections which express the opinion of all prosecutors, the Soviet prosecution especially emphasises the fact that these bestial crimes of the Germans in Katyn were investigated by the special authoritative State Investigating Committee, which went with great precision into all the details; and the result of this investigation has established the fact that the crimes in Katyn were perpetrated by Germans and are but a link in the chain of many bestial crimes perpetrated by the Hitlerites, a great many proofs of which have previously been submitted to the Tribunal.

For these reasons the Soviet prosecution categorically insists on the denial of the application of the defence counsel.

I have finished my statement.

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