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 7 of 9)

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THE PRESIDENT: Counsel for Kaltenbrunner, Sir David was right, was he not, in saying that you were only asking for cross-interrogatories, which the prosecution does not object to?

DR. KAUFFMANN (counsel for Kaltenbrunner): Mr. President, I have no objection to questionnaires, but then I would ask that these witnesses be heard in my presence outside this court-room, and then, on the basis of this interrogation, questionnaires can later be submitted to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: But are the witnesses here?

DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, I do not know.

THE PRESIDENT: We granted interrogatories, and you now ask for cross-interrogatories; that is all you ask for, and that does not involve bringing the witnesses here at all.

The cross-interrogatories will be sent to them; they will answer them. If, for any reason, on the cross-interrogatories being answered, you want to make further application, you can always do so.

DR. KAUFFMANN: The rule of the Tribunal so far was, as I understood it, that I have the right to cross-examine in this Court, if the prosecution submits affidavits of these witnesses here. That has, so far, been the ruling of the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: I think it depends on what the substance of the affidavit is. If it is a matter of importance, no doubt we - We have never made any general rule, but we have generally allowed the witness to be brought here for cross-examination if the matter is of importance, but if the matter is of less importance, then we have very frequently directed that there should be cross-interrogatories.

DR. KAUFFMANN: May I add to this last sentence? I consider this testimony extremely important. The Tribunal will probably know the contents.

THE PRESIDENT: Again in your application you say that the three interrogatories were used by the prosecution on the understanding that the deponents would be subject to cross-interrogation. That means, I suppose, cross-interrogatories. It does not say cross-examination; it says cross-interrogatories. Do you want to have them brought here for cross-examination?

DR. KAUFFMANN: That is what I had intended, unless my first suggestion is accepted. My first suggestion is simpler, in my opinion, and it would save time. It proposes that I be allowed to be present at the questioning of the witnesses outside this Court.

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THE PRESIDENT: Well, we understand your point of view, Dr. Kauffmann, and we will consider it.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Thank you.

DR. STAHMER (counsel for the defendant Goering): May I make a brief statement with reference to General Rudenko's motion?

General Rudenko wishes my application for evidence to be denied, referring to Article 21 I believe, of the Charter. I do not believe that this regulation opposes application. It is true, of course, that government reports are evidence -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, I think the Tribunal has already ruled that that article does not prevent the calling of witnesses, but General Rudenko, in addition to an argument based upon Article 21, also gave particular reasons why he said that these particular witnesses were not witnesses who ought to be called. He said that one of them was a psychiatrist, and the other one could not give any evidence of any value. We should like to hear you upon that.

DR. STAHMER: In the minutes submitted by the Soviet Union, the charge is made that members of the staff which was stationed near Katyn carried out the execution of these Polish officers. They are mentioned by name, and I am bringing counter-evidence - namely members of the same staff - to prove that during the whole time that this staff was stationed there, no killing of Polish officers occurred. I believe that it is a pertinent assertion and an undertaking to present pertinent evidence. One cannot eliminate a witness by saying that he was involved in the act. With reference to these people, this is not a settled question, and it is not mentioned at all in the record; these people whom I have now named are not listed in the Russian record as having taken part in the deed. Apart from that, I consider it impossible to eliminate a witness by saying that he committed the deed. That is what is to be proved by hearing him.

THE PRESIDENT: About the psychiatrist, was he a member of the German Commission?


THE PRESIDENT: He was a member of it?

DR. STAHMER: Yes. He was present at the unloading, and he ascertained from the condition of the corpses that the executions must have been carried out at a time before the occupation by the German army.

THE PRESIDENT: But he does not actually say in the application that he was a member. He said he was present during the visit of the Military Commission; he knows how the findings of the commission were arrived at.

DR. STAHMER: I do not believe that he was an appointed member, but he took part in this inspection and in the duties connected with it. As far as I know, he was a regimental doctor in some regiment near by. He was a regimental doctor in the vicinity of a regimental staff.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, we'll consider your argument.

Then, is the counsel for von Neurath agreeable that that matter should stand over? Is counsel for von Neurath here? He is not here? Very well then, we'll consider that.

Then, counsel for the defendant Schirach, do you wish to say anything in answer to what Sir David said?

DR. NELTE (counsel for the defendant Keitel): My colleague, Dr. Sauter, asked me, if necessary, to represent the interests of the defendant von Schirach.

As to the statement of Sir David, I have only to say that, according to the opinion of the defendant von Schirach the witness von Volcano, who made and signed this affidavit, makes statements on a number of points on which Herr von Schirach did not speak when he was examined as a witness. I therefore ask the

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Tribunal to examine this affidavit to determine whether it does not contain individual points which would be important in connection with the charges against von Schirach, and then to decide on admitting it.

THE PRESIDENT: Then does counsel for the defendants Hess and Frank want to say anything about the application for an interrogatory to General Donovan? Dr. Seidl, we have already heard the argument about it.

DR. SEIDL: I have nothing to add to the arguments which I have already made on the application to obtain official information from the War Department. I have also withdrawn my request for a decision on my application, which was to obtain information from the War Department. It has not yet been decided whether a questionnaire to Secretary of War Patterson is to be submitted.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, the matter will be considered. There was no objection to the other three applications, so it is unnecessary to hear argument. Then the Tribunal will consider all these matters.

Now, Dr. Exner. Dr. Exner, if it is convenient to you personally, the Tribunal thinks that you might go a little bit faster in your speech.




Q. Before the recess, we heard what you told your officers when Adolf Hitler entered the government. Now I should like to hear what you felt about the appointment of Hitler as supreme head of the State in 1934.

A. The union of the two offices in one person gave me much concern. When we lost Hindenburg, we lost the Field-Marshal who was loved by the Wehrmacht and by the whole German people. But what was to come with Hitler, we did not know. It is true, the, result of the popular election was so overwhelming that one could say that a higher law than this popular will could not exist. Thus we soldiers had every right to take the oath to Adolf Hitler.

Q. The prosecution speaks of your close relationship with Hitler. When did you get to know Adolf Hitler personally?

A. I was presented to the Fuehrer by Field-Marshal Keitel, in the command train en the 3rd of September, 1939, when we were going to the Polish front. In any case, that was the day I first spoke to him.

Q. Two days after the outbreak of war?

A. Two days after the beginning of the war.

Q. Did the Fuehrer have confidence in you?

A. That came about very slowly. The Fuehrer had a certain distrust of all general staff officers, especially of the Army, as at that time he was still very sceptical towards the Wehrmacht as a whole.

I may, perhaps, quote a statement of his which was often heard:

"I have a reactionary army" - sometimes he said too - "An Imperial navy, and a National Socialist air force."
The relations between us changed a great deal. At first, until about the end of the campaign in the West, there was considerable reserve. Then his confidence in me increased more and more until August, 1942. Then the great crisis arose and his attitude to me was severely caustic and unfriendly. That lasted until the 30th of January, 1943. Then the relations improved and were particularly good, after the Italian betrayal in 1943 had been warded off. The last year was characterised by numerous sharp altercations.

Q. To what extent did the Fuehrer confide in you regarding his political intentions?

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A. Only to the extent needed for our military work. Of course, for the military work of the Chief of the Wehrmacht Operational Staff, political plans are somewhat more necessary than for a battalion commander, for politics are part of strategy.

Q. Did he permit discussions of political questions between himself and you?

A. Discussion of political questions was generally not admissible for soldiers. One example is especially characteristic. When I reported to the Fuehrer in September, 1943, that Fascism was dead in Italy, for the streets in Rome were full of party-insignia, he said, and I quote:

"Such nonsense could only be reported by an officer. Once again it is obvious that generals do not understand politics."
It can be easily understood that after such remarks the desire for any political discussions was slight.

Q. Were political and military questions therefore kept strictly separated?

A. Yes, they were strictly separated.

Q. Was it possible for you to consult on military matters or not?

A. Consultation on military questions depended entirely on the circumstances of the moment. At a time when he himself was filled with doubts, he often discussed military problems for weeks or months, but if things were clear in his mind, or if he had formed a spontaneous decision, all discussion came to an end.

Q. The system of maintaining secrecy has often been discussed here. Were you also subject to this secrecy?

A. Yes, to an extent which I first realised during this trial. The Fuehrer only informed us of all the events and occurrences at the beginning of the war, that is, the efforts of other countries to prevent this war, and even to put an end to it after it had already begun, as far as these events were published in the Press. He spoke to the politicians and to the Party in an entirely different manner than to the Wehrmacht; to the SS differently again than to the Wehrmacht and to the politicians.

Secrecy about the destruction of the Jews, about the events in the concentration camps, was a masterpiece of secrecy, and it was a masterpiece of deception by Himmler, who showed us soldiers fake photographs about these things in particular, and told us stories about the gardens and plantations in Dachau, about the ghettoes in Warsaw and Theresienstadt, and gave us the impression that they were highly humane establishments.

Q. Did not news reach the Fuehrer's Headquarters from the outside?

A. The Fuehrer's Headquarters was a mixture of cloister and concentration camp. There were numerous wire fences and much barbed wire surrounding it. There were far-flung outposts on the roads leading to it, to safeguard it. In the middle was the so-called security ring No. 1.

Permanent passes to enter this security ring were not even given to my staff, only to General Warlimont. Every guard had to inspect each officer whom he did not know. Apart from reports on the situation, only very little news from the outer world penetrated into this holy of holies.

Q. But what about foreign papers and radio reports?

A. Foreign papers we studied very carefully, and the illustrated American and English papers in particular gave us very good information on new weapons. The foreign news itself was received and censored by the civilian Press section of the Headquarters. I received only what was of military interest. Internal political, police or situation reports were forbidden.

Q. How did your co-operation with the Fuehrer take place?

A. It took place as follows: Every day I made at least two reports on the situation. It was established at one time, rather provokingly, that I took part in 119 conferences. I took part in far more than five thousand. This discussion of the situation - the report on the military situation - was at the same time the issuing of orders. On the basis of the reports of events, the Fuehrer decided immediately what orders were to be given for the next few days.

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I worked in such a manner that when my report was finished I went into an adjoining room. There I immediately drew up the teletype messages and orders for the next few days, and while the report on the situation was still going on, I read these drafts to the Fuehrer for his approval. Warlimont then took them along to my staff where they were sent off.

Q. Were you also present at political talks?

A. May I add - to complete the picture it should be said that I did not hear many things which were discussed in these reports on the situation. The same is true of Field-Marshal Keitel, who worked in a similar manner.

Q. Were political matters also brought up in the discussions of the situation, and to what extent were you present in discussions of a political nature?

A. As I have already said at the beginning, political problems were discussed to the extent that they were necessary for our military measures. Also on occasions when political and military leaders came together, when the Reich Foreign Minister was present, problems were discussed which bordered between politics and the conduct of the war. I did not take part in the exclusively political talks with foreign politicians, neutral or allied, or with the Reich Foreign Minister. I did not even take part in the discussions on the organization armament, and administration of the occupied territories, for the purely military discussions of the situation in which I had to take part often lasted, or required, as much as six or eight hours a day. I really needed the time I had left then for my work.

Q. It has often been stated here that it was impossible to contradict the Fuehrer. Did you have any success with objections?

A. One cannot say it was absolutely impossible to contradict the Fuehrer. Many, many times I contradicted him strongly, but there were moments when one actually could not say a word. Likewise I induced the Fuehrer to desist from many things by my objections.

Q. Can you give an example?

A. There were a number of operational questions which do not interest the Tribunal, but in the field which interests the Tribunal, there was, for example, Hitler's intention to renounce the Geneva Convention. I prevented that because I objected.

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