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-Sixth Day: Tuesday, 4th June, 1946
(Part 3 of 9)

[DR. EXNER continues his direct examination of ALFRED JODL]

[Page 302]

Q. Could you yourself have had any influence on the practice followed by the troops?

A. I tried to exert my influence on various occasions. When it was reported to me that a commando troop had been captured-which according to the Fuehrer's decree was not allowed - then I raised no questions or objections. I made no

[Page 303]

report at all to the Fuehrer on commando operations, which met with only minor success.

And finally, I often dissuaded him from taking too drastic views, as in the Pescara case which Field-Marshal Kesselring pictured to the Tribunal, when I succeeded in convincing the Fuehrer that only a reconnaissance unit was involved.

Q. Were many units actually wiped out?

A. Commando operations decreased considerably as a result of the public announcements in the Wehrmacht communique. I believe that not more than eight or ten cases occurred in all.

For a time, namely in the months of July and August 1944, increasingly large numbers of killed terrorists were reported in the Wehrmacht communiques; these, however, were not commando troops, but the insurgents in France who were killed in those months. That is proved in Document 551-PS, (4). There the order is given ... It is Exhibit USA 551, on Page 117.

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, it is Page 70 of Book 7.

THE WITNESS: Or Page 117 of our Volume II. There it is ordered -

DR. EXNER: What is ordered? I should like to deal now with another document; Document PS-532.

THE PRESIDENT: It is time to break off.

(A recess was taken.)

Q. With reference to the Commando Order, I want to mention Document PS-532, Exhibit RF 368, which is in our Document Book 2, on Page 113.

This document was offered on a previous occasion, when I objected to it because it was not signed, or rather because it was crossed out.

Will you explain why you crossed out the draft order which is contained in this document?

A. Immediately before this draft order was written, the Supreme Commander West requested that now, after the beginning of the invasion, the Commando Order should be rescinded altogether. I approved that proposal. A draft was submitted to me here which rescinded the order only partially, namely in the immediate area of the beach-head and in Brittany - that is a little farther from the beach-head - where landings of parachutists were taking place daily at that time.

THE PRESIDENT: At the time of your objection was not this document rejected? You told us that you objected to the document. What I am asking you is what did the Tribunal do upon your objection, did they maintain it or did they deny it?

DR. EXNER: The objection was allowed and I think the document was struck off.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, why are you putting it in now?

DR. EXNER: I did not ask at the time to have the document struck off, I merely objected that no mention was made of the fact that the draft order in the document was crossed out, and that it clearly bore a hand-written marginal note of Jodl in which he rejected it.

THE PRESIDENT: Just a minute. Either the document was offered in evidence or it was not and either it has got an exhibit number or it has not, and as I understand your objection was rejected.

MR. ROBERTS: It was in fact objected to by Dr. Exner, after having been given the French Exhibit RF 368, and after discussion it was then struck from the record, the English shorthand note reference being Page 289. My Lord, I think in fact both the prosecution and the defence agreed it has Jodl's writing upon it, and, therefore, I feel certain that there can be no question as to its admissibility, either on behalf of the prosecution or the defence. My Lord, I certainly intend, with the permission of the Tribunal, to cross-examine him about it, and I have not the slightest objection to my friend, Dr. Exner, putting it in.

[Page 304]


It may, therefore, be left in as Exhibit RF 368.


Q. Will you continue?

A. So at that time it was my intention to rid myself of the Commando Order entirely. For that reason next to the sentence under (4) I wrote: "That is just what they should not be," namely, treated as members of commando units, and I crossed out the entire first page. That was of no use, however, because on that very day the Fuehrer made a different decision with regard to that request from the Supreme Commander West, and his decision is contained in Document 551-PS.

DR. EXNER: 551-PS, Exhibit USA 551. That is contained in the second volume on Page 115, an order on the treatment of commando personnel. This order contains the following hand- written remark of yours: "Similar action should be taken in the Italian theatre of war." This is on Page 117.

Will you briefly explain the contents of that order and the reason for your remark.

A. That can be briefly explained. In that order territorial limitations were set restricting the use of the Commando Order, which henceforth applied only to enemy operations behind the corps command posts, but not to the battle area of the beach-head. These were territorial limitations which had not so far been established or ordered, and I immediately took over this order for the Italian theatre of war, because in Italy also there existed a fighting front on land. If this order applied in practice in Italy, then it meant that no commando operation which began with a landing on the coast could be regarded as such, because all of these landings took place in front of the lines of the corps command posts. Therefore, I was very anxious to have the same eased conditions applied to the whole Italian theatre of war.

Q. I just want to read one paragraph on Page 116; it is the second paragraph under No. 1. In the first paragraph it says: "The order remains in force," but the second paragraph reads: "Excepted are enemy soldiers in uniform in the immediate battle area of the beach-head, that is in the area of the divisions fighting in the front line, as well as that of reserve troops up to and including corps commands, with reference to (5) of the basic order."

The word "Generalkommando" means "Corps Command"; it has not been quite correctly translated into French. So this limitation of the order to certain areas was on the basis of Jodl's remark also to apply to the Italian theatre.

Now finally -

Before that I have another important question -

THE PRESIDENT: What is it you are saying about this translation?

DR. EXNER: Yes, the word "Generalkommando" has been translated into the French "Region Militaire". "Region Militaire" is not quite clear.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that in the English?

DR. EXNER: And in the English it says "Corps Command". That is correct. The English is correct. "Corps Command" is the same as "Generalkommando".

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, the Tribunal would prefer that you should draw the attention of the Tribunal to anything which you say is a mis-translation, rather than stating that it is a mis-translation. I call it a question of opinion whether it is a mis-translation or not. It is not for you to tell, us that it is a mistranslation. You may draw our attention to it and say that you submit it as a mis-translation. But now will you tell us this also: In one copy of this Document 551, it appears to be signed by or initialled by Warlimont. In the other, in your version of the translation it appears to be signed by the defendant Keitel. What is the explanation of that?

[Page 305]

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, might I make a suggestion? I think the Tribunal should get the original from the Exhibit Room. 551-PS, in fact, consists of three documents. The first is a draft altered in pencil, and the second is a draft initialled "W". That is Warlimont with Jodl's pencilled note at the end, extending it to Italy, and the third is the final order in which the pencilled note of Jodl and the alteration of distribution to Italy is incorporated. So there are really three documents, and the last is a mimeographed document with the mimeographed signature of Keitel. That appears from the original draft.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Exner.


Q. The prosecution has been emphasizing that you gave strict instructions to have this order kept secret, and that you ordered its distribution only down to the level of commanding officers to avoid it falling into enemy hands at all costs. You gave these instructions for the second order, namely the explanatory order, 503-PS. Will you explain why you ordered such strict secrecy?

A. These instructions for secrecy refer, in fact, only to Document 503.

Q. That, I want to add, is in the second volume of my Document Book, on Page 102. That is the order on secrecy, signed by Jodl. Will you continue?

A. Particular secrecy for this order was quite inevitable. First of all, it was directed only to the commanders. Secondly, the order contained in great detail information on the considerable damage which the German Wehrmacht had already suffered through these commando operations, and the damage which might still be caused under certain circumstances. If the order were to fall into enemy hands, it would certainly be an incentive for the enemy to continue that particular type of warfare in increased measure. Thirdly, the order 498-PS could be considered as a reprisal, which was contrary to International Law. But the last sentence in Document PS-503, a sentence which can easily be recognized as a later addition, since before it the order seems to end - that sentence, I must say, made me indignant. This was one of the reasons why I ordered that particularly strict secrecy for this order.

THE PRESIDENT: Which sentence are you referring to?

THE WITNESS: I refer to the last sentence of Document PS-503, which says:

"If it should prove suitable to save one or two men temporarily to interrogate them, then they are to be shot immediately after interrogation."
I cannot prove it

THE PRESIDENT: That is not in 503, is it?

DR. EXNER: 503.

THE PRESIDENT: You have not printed the whole of 503 in your Document Book. Is that it?

DR. EXNER: Unfortunately, I have not 503, but only the secrecy order, Page 102; but I expressly requested that it should he submitted to the Tribunal.

THE WITNESS: May I add that, in fact, this sentence became the source of all the trouble. The troops made use of that sentence, and on principle or as a rule did not kill commandos but took them prisoners.


Q. You said this last sentence made you indignant. Were you also convinced that it was against International Law?

A. Yes, one could have doubts in that respect, too, but I found it too unpleasant from a human point of view, because if one does shoot a man, I think it is indecent to first of all extort all information out of him.

Q. I want to ask one more question on what you mentioned before the recess.

You said that you did not report everything to the Fuehrer, you did not report all commando raids to him. That is quite clear. But, you said you also did not

[Page 306]

report information which you obtained about the enemy, killings and so on. What did you mean by that?

A. I reported the results of Dieppe, the violations of International Law which we thought had been committed there, the shackling of German prisoners and so on. There was only one thing which I did not report, namely the shackling of some men belonging to the organization Todt in such a manner that they strangled themselves. I did not report that and it did not appear in any order or Wehrmacht communique.

THE PRESIDENT: The defendant has already told us about this, so why you should ask him again, I do not know.

DR. EXNER: I thought it was not quite clear.


Q. We now pass to another subject, the order regarding Leningrad and Moscow. How did Hitler's order about the fate of Leningrad and Moscow come into being? It is Document C.123, second volume, Page 145 of my Document Book; it was submitted as Exhibit USSR 114. This is the order stating that capitulation was not to be accepted. How did this order come into being?

A. At the beginning of the second paragraph appears the sentence:

"The moral justification for this measure is clear to the whole world."
That I shall now explain. The first cause was a report from General Field-Marshal von Leeb, the Supreme Commander of the Army Group North at Leningrad. He reported that the population of Leningrad had already begun to press against his positions towards south and west. He pointed out that it would be absolutely impossible for him to keep these millions of Leningrad people fed and supplied, if they were to fall into his hands, because the supply situation of the Army Group was catastrophic at that time. That was the first cause. But shortly beforehand, Kiev had been abandoned by the Russian armies, and hardly had we occupied the city when one tremendous explosion after another occurred. The major part of the inner city burned down, 50,000 people were made homeless. German soldiers were used to fight the flames and suffered considerable losses, because further large amounts of explosives went up into the air during the fire. At first, the local commander at Kiev thought that it was sabotage on the part of the population; but then we found a demolition chart, listing fifty or sixty objectives in Kiev which already a long time ago had been prepared for destruction; and this chart was, in fact, correct, as investigation by engineers proved at once. At least forty more objectives were ready to be blown up; for the most part, a remote-control was to set off the explosion by means of radio waves. I myself had the original of this demolition chart in my hands. That proved -

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think we need go into the details of Kiev. This deals with Leningrad. The defendant might briefly state in substance what he says happened at Kiev, but we cannot investigate details of it.

DR. EXNER: Mr. President, I wanted - or the defendant wanted - to show that it was feared these happenings in Kiev might repeat themselves in Leningrad.

THE PRESIDENT: I quite understand that, but if he said that he had plans of the blowing up of Leningrad, it would be a different matter and he could give that in more detail. But what I am saying is we cannot go into the details about Kiev.

DR. EXNER: No. I only want to refer, without quoting, to my Document AJ 15, on Page 159 of my second volume. That is a report on these explosions in Kiev. We will not dwell on this matter any more now. I just wanted to bring it to the notice of the Tribunal.


Q. Please continue.

[Page 307]

A. Then I only need to say in conclusion that the Fuehrer always expected that what had happened in Kiev, in Kharkov and in Odessa would happen also in Leningrad, and possibly in Moscow. That was the decisive reason for the transmittal of this order, which already had been put into writing, from the Fuehrer to the High Command of the Army. And the order was endorsed by the Russian radio report that Leningrad had been undermined and would be defended to the last man.

Therefore, the purpose of the order was exclusively that of protecting German troops against such catastrophes as had already occurred; for entire staffs had been blown into the air in Kharkov and Kiev. For this reason the Fuehrer issued this order, which I, in turn, on his express request, again laid down in writing. That is the reason why the order began with the words, "The Fuehrer has again decided". It means "once more", "for the second time".

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