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 4 of 9)

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

[Page 307]

Q. What was the reason for the order to leave openings to the east in the encirclement of Leningrad and Moscow?

A. We did not want these masses of populations. We had our experiences in Paris, where it had even been necessary to use the transport facilities of four divisions and the whole relief grain in Bavaria, which could supply tens of thousands of people, to save the population from starvation. In Leningrad that would have been quite impossible, because in the first place the railways had been destroyed, and rails had not yet been adjusted to our gauge, the supply situation was very difficult, and, in fact, it would have been impossible to assist these millions of people in any way; there would have been a real catastrophe. Hence, the idea of pressing them back to the east into the Russian occupied areas, an idea, incidentally, not in conformity with the assertion which has been made here, too, that we wanted to exterminate the Jews.

Q. I now come to another subject. The French Prosecutor has accused you of ordering - this is Document UK 56, which is Exhibit RF 1438, contained in my Document Book, the second volume, on Page 153 - of ordering the deportation of Jews, and thus giving, as chief of a military staff, a political order.

Will you explain how this order came into being?

THE PRESIDENT: I think the, translation must have come through wrongly. You said - at least, I took it down - Page 153.

DR. EXNER: Page 155. I beg your pardon, it is on Page 155 of the second volume of my Document Book. The actual order is on Page 156.


Q. Please give your reply now.

A. I must explain in connection with this document that the deportation of Jews from Denmark was discussed during a conference at which I did not participate; Himmler suggested it to the Fuehrer, and the Fuehrer approved or ordered it. I was informed of it either through General Schmundt or Ambassador Hewel.

Then on instructions conveyed to me by Schmundt, I transmitted to the military commander in Denmark the details of this order. The heading, or rather, the address of this teleprint message shows that it was directed to two offices, namely the Foreign Office and the Commander of the German troops in Denmark. These are the two offices for which it was mainly destined. The Reichsfuehrer SS received the letter only for information, as is noted on it in accordance with our office custom. He did not have to act upon it, it was not an order for him, but merely information; he already knew the Fuehrer's decision.

I did not by any means order the deportation of the Jews, but I wrote: "The deportation of Jews is being carried out by the Reichsfuehrer SS."

Q. That is Point 2?

A. Point 2. Had this been an order, then it would have had to be addressed to the Reichsfuehrer SS, and it would have had to be worded like this:

"Reichsfuehrer SS is to deport Jews from Denmark."

[Page 308]

But the exact opposite is correct. This point 2 informs General von Hanneken in Denmark that he has nothing to do with this affair, but that it is being handled by the Reichsfuehrer SS. But General von Hanneken had to be told of this, because at that time a state of military emergency existed; he had executive power in Denmark, and if anything like that had been done without his knowledge, then he might immediately have objected to it and forbidden it.

The matter appeared to me so urgent that, in order to avoid incidents, I informed the military commander in Denmark of it over the telephone quite openly, and without regard to its secrecy.

The French prosecution mentioned an indiscretion which enabled most Jews to escape from Denmark into Sweden; presumably it was this telephone call which made it possible.

Finally, therefore, I repeat that I was far from ordering the deportation of Jews; I merely informed the military commander in question that he was to have nothing to do with the matter. Besides, as I heard afterwards on making inquiries, these Jews were taken to Theresienstadt, where they were cared for and visited by the Red Cross; and even the Danish Ambassador declared himself satisfied with their treatment.

DR. EXNER: May I draw the attention of the Tribunal to what I consider is an inadequate translation into English and French. Under Point 1, on Page 156 of the second volume, the word "volunteers" does not appear in the translation. It says, "The Reichsfuehrer SS has permission to recruit volunteers from the former members of the Danish forces who are to be released." The word "volunteers" is missing from the English translation; the French merely says "hommes": "men".


Q. Defendant, you actually had no dealings with matters in occupied territories, they were outside your jurisdiction. How, then, did you come to sign this order?

A. Actually, this affair did not concern me at all. I signed the order because Field-Marshal Keitel was away on that day.

Q. Since we are just talking of the Jews, will you tell the Tribunal what you knew about the extermination of Jews? May I remind you that you are under oath?

A. I know just how improbable these explanations sound, but very often the improbable can be true and the probable untrue. I can only say, fully conscious of my responsibility that I never heard, either by hint, or by written or spoken word, of an extermination of Jews. On a single occasion I became distrustful, namely when Himmler spoke about the revolt in the Jewish Ghetto. I did not quite believe in this heroic fight, but Himmler immediately supplied photographs showing the emplacements which had been built there, and he said: "Not only the Jews but also Polish Nationalists have entrenched themselves there and they are offering bitter resistance." And with that he removed my suspicions.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you speaking of Warsaw?

THE WITNESS: I am speaking of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto of which I heard in a personal report from Himmler given in our presence, in the presence of the soldiers at the Fuehrer's headquarters; Himmler spoke only of an uprising and of bitter fighting. As far as the activities of the police are concerned, the so-called action groups, Einsatzgruppen - a conception, incidentally, of which I heard in detail first in this courtroom - there was never any explanation from the Fuehrer other than that these police units were necessary to quell uprisings, rebellions and partisan actions, before they grew into a menace; this was not a task for the Armed Forces, but for the police, and for that reason the police had to enter the operational areas of the Army. I have never had any private information on the extermination of the Jews, and on my word, as sure as I am sitting here, I heard all these things for the first time after the end of the war.

Q. What did you know about concentration camps -

[Page 309]

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think it is necessary to point out to you that you cannot speak about there having been no explanation to the Fuehrer, you can only speak about there having been no explanation to yourself. The translation I heard was, as to these Einsatzgruppen, that there had been no explanation to the Fuehrer.

THE INTERPRETER: From the Fuehrer.

THE PRESIDENT: From the Fuehrer?


THE WITNESS: I said that the Fuehrer had never given us any other reason for the presence of police forces than his statement that police measures were necessary.

THE PRESIDENT: I mis-heard the translation.


Q. Did you know anything about concentration camps, and what did you know about them? Please be brief.

A. I can briefly say that I knew there were concentration camps at Dachau and Oranienburg. Some divisional officers visited Oranienburg once in 1937 and gave me very enthusiastic accounts of it. I heard the name "Buchenwald" for the first time in the spring of 1945. When the name was mentioned, I thought it was a new troop training camp, and I made inquiries. The inmates were always described as German professional criminals and certain inveterate political opponents who, however, like Schuschnigg or Niemoller, were held there in a kind of honorary detention. I never heard a single word about tortures, about deported persons, or prisoners of war, about crematoriums or gas vans, about torments reminiscent of the Inquisition, about medical experiments. I can only say that even if I had heard of these things, I would not have believed them until I had seen them with my own eyes.

Q. The French prosecutor read a statement of the German General of Police, Panke, according to which you were present at a conference with Hitler on 30th December, 1942, when terror and counter-terror in Denmark and reprisal murder were said to have been discussed. What do you say to that?

A. I think it was on 30th December, 1943.

Q. Was it?

A. In some points that statement is correct, in others it is incorrect. During that conference, at least as long as I was present, the word "murder" was never mentioned. The Fuehrer said: "I want to fight the terror of sabotage and attacks which is now beginning in Denmark with exactly the same weapons. That is to say, if a Danish factory working for Germany is blown up, which has happened, then a factory working solely for the Danes will be blown up also. If some of our strong-points are attacked by terrorists, which has also happened, then these terrorists will be hunted, surrounded and wiped out in fighting; and I do not want military courts, which only create martyrs." He did not say or suggest, however, that innocent Danes should now be murdered as a reprisal. That is all I can say, namely, that in my presence and in the presence of Field-Marshal Keitel only that, and nothing else, was said. Again, it is most questionable, from the point of view of International Law, whether an army is not entitled to adopt the fighting methods of its opponents in its counter-measures, particularly in this franc-tireur warfare and in these rebellions. That seems to be most doubtful.

Q. You just said, "as long as I was present". Were you not present during the entire conference? Can you remember?

A. I do not think that even in my absence any other statements were made. Once during the conference I went out to telephone and was not there for a short time, perhaps fifteen minutes.

[Page 310]

Q. We now come to the partisan fighting. Partisan fighting and partisans have been mentioned frequently in this courtroom. Can you say, briefly, who were these partisans?

A. It is not easy to define that clearly considering all the types of fighting adopted in this World War, but there are five characteristics:

(1) A partisan group is a fighting unit formed behind one's own front;

(2) It is not, or only partly, uniformed;

(3) It is not a part of the Armed Forces organisationally, even if it receives its orders from them.

(4) It must be in a position, or it is generally in a position, to hide among the population -

THE PRESIDENT: We do not require a lecture about this matter.


Q. Well, then, we know approximately what a partisan group is, but I now want to ask you about the fighting against partisan groups. First of all, I shall read what we have heard here about partisans, Document L-18o, Exhibit USA 276, which is contained in the second volume of my Document Book on Page 121. That is a complete report of an Einsatzgruppe in action against partisans; it is Appendix No. 9. What is found on Page 122 is, I think, of importance. First of all (I), Point 5, I quote:

"In the larger cities, especially those with industrial facilities, so-called Instribitjelni-Battalions (i.e., destruction battalions) were formed by the Soviets before the entry of the German troops."
Then, under (III):
"The tasks and fighting methods of the various partisan groups have become known partly from the captured combat directives of the partisans themselves. This statement of a captured partisan is significant: 'A partisan must destroy everything that he can reach'. "
And then, in one of the "Combat Directives for Partisan Groups" transmitted from the Commander of the Army Area North (Rear), it is stated that:
"Unbearable conditions are to be created for the enemy and his accomplices in territories occupied by the enemy. All measures of the enemy are to be opposed."
And then instructions are given to blow up bridges, to destroy roads, etc. I shall not read it all. In the last paragraph, which I have on Page 123, it expressly states that partisans will skilfully disguise themselves, that they will sometimes dress like farmers or will work in the fields as soon as German forces appear in the vicinity. The witness, von dem Bach-Zelewski, stated here that the fight against partisans was carried out in a chaotic manner; he meant, it was not directed from above. You must be informed about that. Is that correct?

A. No, that is not correct. This expert on partisan fighting has apparently a bad memory. I draw attention to Document F-665, in Document Book 2, on Page 126, which represents the first page of a directive for partisan warfare. It is called "Directive for Partisan Warfare", and was signed by me personally on 6th May, 1944. In the second sentence it says -

Q. On Page 126 -

A. There the directive, number so and so, "Directive for Partisan Warfare in the East", issued by the OKW, Army Operational Staff, dated 11th November, 1942, is cancelled, and that proves that, at least since 11th November, 1942, the troops had in their possession instructions issued by the Army Operational Staff on how to conduct the fight against partisans.

Q. May I now draw attention to my document, AJ-1, on Page 133. It is an affidavit of a Pastor Wettberg; I do not want to read it. Pastor Wettberg contacted me because he himself had been engaged in the warfare against partisans and he confirmed that the fighting was perfectly well directed even before

[Page 311]

the new directive was issued, that is, from 1942 onwards. In 1944 you issued this new directive without Hitler's permission, is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. What made you do that? Was it not an unusual step?

A. I want to state that I did not submit this directive either to Field Marshal Keitel or to the Fuehrer, because it was a contradiction of all existing orders. I shall prove in detail later that it orders all so-called partisans in France and Yugoslavia - partisan areas in Russia were now in front of our lines - to be treated immediately as regular fighting troops, and thus, if captured, as prisoners of war.

I took this unusual step because I became convinced after the shooting of the English Air Force officers at Sagan that the Fuehrer was no longer concerned with the human, legal aspects, and also because since 1st May, 1944, I myself felt responsible for questions of International Law, as the division of "Canaris" had been dissolved on that day, and the Foreign Section, together with the International Law department, had come under my command. I was resolved not to tolerate and not to participate in any such violations of International Law on our part, and I acted accordingly from that day up to the end of the war.

In this order I declared all partisans and their assistants, even those wearing civilian clothes, to be regular troops and prisoners-of-war, long before Eisenhower, on 7th July, 1944, demanded that terrorists in France be treated in that way.

Q. The prosecution asserts that the fight against partisans was only a codename under which Jews and Slavs were killed, is that true?

A. The fight against partisans was a horrible reality. In July 1943, to quote some figures, 1,560 acts of railway sabotage took place in Russia; there were 2,600 in September; that is ninety per day. In connection with a book by Polomarenko, an American paper said that 500,000 Germans were supposed to have been killed by the partisans. If a nought is crossed off from that figure, it is still quite a considerable achievement for a peaceful Soviet population. But the book is also said to state that the population became increasingly hostile, that murder and terror became more frequent and that the peaceful Quisling mayors were being killed. At any rate, it was a tremendous fight which was taking place in the East.

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