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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Seventieth Day: Wednesday, 3rd July, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 37]

THE PRESIDENT: Has Dr. Bergold asked any of the defendants' counsel to represent him?

(No response.)

Has the Marshal been able to get in touch with Dr. Bergold?


DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, Dr. Bergold was advised yesterday that his presence would be required in the courtroom today. I understand the General Secretary also got in touch with him regarding this matter. I am sorry I cannot tell you any more about it. As far as I know, he did not ask anyone to represent him in Court today.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Dr. Stahmer.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, I shall look into this matter immediately, to see whether he has arrived or whether I can contact him.

THE PRESIDENT: Very good; and Dr. Stahmer, I think the best course would be for the Tribunal to consider the various applications with reference to interrogatories and documents, which I think you and other counsel wish to offer in evidence; and the Tribunal will then examine these witnesses if Dr. Bergold is not here by that time. The Tribunal, of course, expects him to be here if it is possible. Perhaps you will communicate with him, and the Marshal should also communicate with Dr. Bergold.


THE MARSHAL: Yes, sir.

PROFESSOR JAHRREISS: Mr. President, I have learned that the son of Dr. Bergold returned yesterday unexpectedly and suddenly from a prisoner-of-war camp. Therefore, Dr. Bergold travelled to his home, a short distance from Nuremberg. I asked his secretary to go to Dr. Bergold's home and to bring him here and I assume he will be here within approximately half an hour.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, you have some interrogatories, I think, which you want to offer in evidence, have you not?

DR. STAHMER (counsel for defendant Goering): Yes, sir.

At the end of my presentation I still had some interrogatories which I had been permitted to present but which had not arrived.

First of all, I shall turn to the interrogatory by Kannhuber, who was a General in the Air Force. He submitted an organisational study for 1950, which was completed on the 2nd of May, 1938. He was questioned about the purpose and significance of this study and he stated - I will give a short summary - that a part of it, which came under the heading of "long term objective", was a tentative sketch based on theoretical assumptions. Then there was a second part which gave the deadline of 1942, and the interim solution for 1st October, 1938. This was a positive proposal for the organization of the Luftwaffe.

This study was compiled by the author on his own initiative. The witness does not know whether it was actually submitted to Goering. He considers it improbable, but he does assume that he did suggest the positive proposal for the organization of the Luftwaffe to Goering.

[Page 38]

That is the substance of this interrogatory which will be called Goering Exhibit 54.

I have another interrogatory which I should like to submit, which originates from General Kurt Student. This deals with the air attack on Rotterdam in May of 1940. It is an explanation -

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got copies of these affidavits, I mean these interrogatories? We have got this one you are now offering of Student, but we have not got the one of Kannhuber.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, I submitted this material to the Translation Department and I asked that the translations should be ready. I shall look into the matter and see what has happened. At any rate, I did submit the originals to the Translation Department.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes; the General Secretary will look into it. And this one of Student, has that been applied for and granted? It is not on my list.

DR. STAHMER: Yes, Mr. President, it has been granted, and the prosecution has submitted a cross-interrogatory to this one. I believe -


DR. STAHMER: If I am not mistaken, this interrogatory of Student's was granted on the 14th of February.

Student deals with the air attack on Rotterdam in May, 1940. He gives the necessary explanation as to how it came about that during the negotiations for capitulation bombs were still being dropped on Rotterdam. I believe I do not need to refer to this interrogatory in detail. Briefly the position was that capitulation negotiations were in progress. An air attack had been planned, but the squadron which was being employed could not be advised in time by wireless. The ground troops sent signals, which were misunderstood by one group.

THE PRESIDENT: It appears that it covers the same ground that has already been covered in evidence; does it not?

DR. STAHMER: It has been dealt with in the examination; yes, that is correct, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Then it should not be read under any circumstances now.

DR. STAHMER: Then I shall submit this document -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, offer it in evidence. But I mean, you need not read it in detail.

DR. STAHMER: Very well, Mr. President. This will be Exhibit 53.

Then, Mr. President, I have another interrogatory by a General of the Air Force, Koller, which I should like to submit. This will be submitted as Exhibit Goering 55.

Mr. President, I ask the permission of the High Tribunal to read these questions, for there is a special significance connected with the testimony given by this witness in relation to the defendant in this proceeding.

"Question 1: Did the former Reichsmarschall Goering at any time issue an order that enemy airmen who had been shot down should be handed over to the police - the SD - or that they should be shot without a trial?

Answer: As far as I know, no. In any case, I know of no such order issued by the Reichsmarschall.

Question 2: Did the former Reichsmarschall Goering help to formulate an order on the strength of which the British Air Force officers who escaped from Stalag 3 at Sagan in March, 1944, were shot by the police or SD?

Answer: General Korton told me that the Luftwaffe - meaning the Reichsmarschall and himself - had no part in the issuing of this order.

Question 3: Did the former Reichsmarschall Goering learn of the fact contained in Question 2 after the order given by Hitler had been carried out? Did he learn about it only then?

[Page 39]

Answer: General Korton told me that he and the Reichsmarschall did not get to know of it until later.

Question 4: On what day was this order issued by Hitler?

Answer: I do not know.

Question 5: On what day, or on what days, was this order carried out?

Answer: I do not know.

Question 6: Do you know whether the former Reichsmarschall Goering very strongly condemned the shooting of these fifty British Air Force officers?

Answer: General Korton told me that the Reichsmarschall was very angry about this shooting.

Question 7: Have you any knowledge as to whether the former Reichsmarschall Goering and his deputy for the Air Force, the Chief of the General Staff, repeatedly remonstrated with Hitler about the measures which Hitler had ordered to be taken against the enemy 'terror' flyers who had been shot down?

Answer: According to statements which General Korton made to me in June of 1944, that is correct. I remember too that some time afterwards it was reported to me that the Reichsmarschall had complained to the Fuehrer about the action taken by Party organizations and individuals among the population against so-called 'terror' flyers; the reason for this being that some air crews had come to harm.

In March of 1945, he flatly turned down the order given by the Fuehrer that all enemy crews who had been shot down and were shot down in the future should be turned over to the SD.

Replying to questions 1 to 7, I should like to state in explanation: At the time of the report I was Chief of the Luftwaffe Operations Staff. In February, 1944, the Fuehrer's headquarters, the High Command of the Armed Forces, the Reichsmarschall with his personal entourage and the Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force, General Korton, together with two or three ordnance officers, were transferred to Berchtesgaden. I had to stay with the High Command of the Luftwaffe, that is, with the working Staff in East Prussia, known as 'Robinson', as it was expected that the Fuehrer's Headquarters would have to be moved back quickly. The whole signals system and organization for the issuing of orders for Luftwaffe supplies was to operate by way of 'Robinson'.

Because of the separation between the High Command of the Luftwaffe on one hand and the Commander-in-Chief and Chief of General Staff on the other hand, a separation which increased from week to week, we in East Prussia did not have knowledge of many things which were being handled directly in Berchtesgaden. Often we received no knowledge at all of important Fuehrer directives, or if we did, we received the information very late. It was not until the beginning of June - I believe it was the week after Whitsun - that I, together with some Luftwaffe officers, was transferred to Berchtesgaden. From February until that time, I think I had attended only one conference at Berchtesgaden. As to questions 2 to 6, which deal with 'Sagan', it was from General Korton that I learned, and I believe Colonel Christian informed me almost at the same time, that the airmen who had escaped from Sagan had been shot by order of the Fuehrer I rather think I heard about it first from General Korton, who, if I remember rightly, told me about it during one of the rather long telephone conversations which he had every evening. Korton made it quite clear that he did not like this, and told me those things which I mentioned in reply to questions 2, 3 and 6. The conversation must have taken place at the end of March or the beginning of April. However, I cannot give the exact date.

In reply to questions 1 and 2, concerning the 'terror' flyers: it was approximately the beginning of June, 1944 - first I thought that it was in July, but I think now that it must have been June - when General Korton advised me that

[Page 40]

the Fuehrer intended to order that 'terror flyers' be left to the fury of the people.

We discussed this matter repeatedly and we were unanimous in our opposition. We had always considered the direct attacks by low-flying enemy aircraft on the civilian population, on women and children, gatherings of civilians, civilian passenger trains, hospitals, school children who were out for a walk, our own crews who were parachuting to earth, and farmers who were tilling their fields, cruel and contrary to international law, but we did not consider the decree which the Fuehrer intended to issue to be the proper way to solve this very difficult problem. Our reasons for this were: Articles of War, International Law, it was against fundamental soldierly principles, it would lead to many misunderstandings and thereby cause harm not only to enemy flyers, but also to our own men; and the effect it would have on the morale of our own crews - "

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, is not this really going into argument and not dealing with facts? It really is not necessary for you to read all this witness's arguments about it. He is not really dealing with facts at all now and it is in detail -

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, these are the facts which he discussed with General Korton, the facts which induced them to reject the Fuehrer's order. These were the reasons which he and Korton discussed -

THE PRESIDENT: Some of what you have read no doubt is a matter of fact, but what you are now reading is a matter of argument.

DR. STAHMER: No, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, surely you can summarize the rest of this.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, this document is of great importance to the defendant because it deals with just those points with which he is accused and which distress him most and -

THE PRESIDENT: I heard you say it is of great importance and therefore you have been reading it and in so far as it is statement of fact, it seems to me that there is some excuse for reading it in detail. But when you come to matters of argument, it seems to me there is no excuse for reading it, because argument by a particular witness is not really relevant for the Tribunal's consideration at all. Summarize the argument, if you like. I mean, you have read the factual part. Summarize the rest which - maybe you can tell us, if you like, what the argument is.

DR. STAHMER: Very, well, Mr. President. General Korton further stated that all the documents which are relevant to the question of terror flyers and the shooting of Air Force officers were submitted to him and, after perusing them, he arrived at the conclusion that the contents of these documents are proof of the fact that the High Command of the Armed Forces, as well as the Reichsmarschall, opposed this action, and did everything in their power to prevent such a decision from being put into effect as intended by Hitler. He particularly points out that, in one of these letters, there is a marginal note to the effect that it was not possible to get a reply from the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, and he concludes from that that the Reichsmarschall personally fought against any conclusive treatment of this matter.

Then there is a further incident dealt with in Question 8:

"Did the Fuehrer for the reason stated under figure 5, on the occasion of a situation discussion and in the presence of all who attended it, become excited and accuse the German Luftwaffe of having made a mutual cowards' agreement with the Allied Air Forces?

Answer: During the first half of March, 1945, Bormann showed the Fuehrer a note taken from a correspondent's report in the Allied Press. The gist of this note was that the crew of an American fighter plane, which shortly before had been shot down over Germany, had been picked up by advancing

[Page 41]

American troops. The crew had testified that the enraged civilians had threatened them with death and in all probability they would have been lynched if it had not been for the German soldiers who had liberated them and protected them. Bormann pointed out to Hitler in a few words that this confirmed the fact that German soldiers, in instances such as this, were going against their own countrymen; and he concluded his remarks somewhat as follows: 'My Fuehrer, that is the way your orders are being carried out.' Thereupon in the presence of all who attended the situation discussion the Fuehrer made some very excited statements and among other things the Fuehrer said to me: 'If my orders are not being carried out it is due to the cowardice of the Luftwaffe because the men in the Luftwaffe are cowards and they are afraid that something might happen, to them too some day. The entire thing is nothing but a cowards' agreement between the German Luftwaffe and the English and American airmen.' I reported this to the Reichsmarschall. Whether Hitler made the same remark to the Reichsmarschall personally, that I am not able to say; but I consider it quite probable, because when making reproaches of this kind, especially if they applied to the Luftwaffe, he repeated himself and used the same expressions.
Question: On what day did this discussion take place?

Answer: I cannot give the date."

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