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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
9th August to 21st August 1946

Two Hundred-First Day: Monday, 12th August, 1946
(Part 8 of 10)

[DR. LATERNSER continues his re-examination of Gert von Rundstedt]

[Page 104]

Q. The prosecution still refers to this Affidavit No. 5 of General Blaskowitz and for the purpose of clearing this statement, as the interpretation by the prosecution might lead to misunderstandings, I asked General Blaskowitz to issue a statement on his affidavit here. I shall read part of it to you now, and subsequently I shall ask you whether this is correct as General Blaskowitz has given it. I quote: "The purpose of the present declaration is to make clear the restriction I made use of in my affidavit of 10th November, 1945: In your sphere: What I state in

[Page 105]

today's supplementary declaration should be included in the restriction. I did not mean a conference of commanders at the Front forming a 'group' or an actual 'advisory circle.' Both expressions might be misunderstood; they should only designate a circle from which individual advisers could be heard by their superiors on matters affecting the individual's sphere." Would this supplement to this previous explanation correspond to the actual steps a commander could take?

A. Yes, that is so, and it removes the misunderstanding which I believed due to General Blaskowitz.

Q. You were furthermore asked regarding the misunderstanding which occurred before the opening of the Russian campaign between you and Field-Marshal von Bock concerning a gap due to by-passing a large swamp area.

A. That is an error, that was not a misunderstanding between von Bock and myself. This deployment plan was laid down by the OKH, and I, as Commanding Officer of Army Group South, did not like this gap. That was why I reported to Hitler saying: " My army group has such and such a task and will do this or that. It would be good of some troops were to pass through this gap." It was not a misunderstanding at all. That was a suggestion for improvement coming from me.

Q. When you both reported to Hitler concerning your intention of carrying out your military tasks, was it at the same time, or would the reports be given at different times?

A. They took place one after the other. First Bock and his army commanders had their turn. Then I had my turn with my commanders. I was referred to the order that officers should not know any more than what concerned them. That meant that I was not supposed to know how Bock was going to operate with his army group. According to Hitler's order, it was none of my business.

Q. The result was that you reported separately?

A. Yes, and that is easy to understand as the more there were present at such a report the more uneasy one felt.

Q. An order has been submitted to you, 4067-PS, according to which German citizens, as far as they were found fighting for the Free French units in Africa, were to be shot. Did you ever hear -

A. No.

Q. - that this order was put into practice?

A. No, I do not know anything about the order.

Q. You said that you had never agreed with Field-Marshal von Blomberg's ideas. In this affidavit which is constantly being referred to by the prosecution, Field-Marshal von Blomberg announces the opinion of what is called the "Group of German Staff Officers." Did Field-Marshal von Blomberg have a particularly close connection with the generals under him?

A. He always remained a bit distant. He seemed to live in a different sphere. He was a pupil of the Steiner school of theosophy and no one really liked him. Once he was a subordinate of mine, before becoming Minister of War. His position was quite exceptional.

Q. You have not answered the question. Did Blomberg have such close contact with the generals under him that he could state their opinions in such a decided manner as he did in this affidavit?

A. I cannot imagine that.

DR. LATERNSER: Thank you very much. I have no further question.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, in the event that professor Dr. Schreiber is produced by the Russian prosecution, and only in that case, I should like to make application for another witness to be questioned on this point, on which he can give the most exact information.

[Page 106]

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps you would say what point you mean?

DR. LATERNSER: The Russian prosecution today, during the cross-examination of von Manstein, submitted a written statement by Professor Dr. Schreiber regarding a special type of warfare.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know, but there are three or four points in that statement. Which one are you referring to? There is not only one point in the statement. There are a number of points.

DR. LATERNSER: Only in case the witness arrives, I should like to ask to make an application to produce a witness of mine, to be questioned on this point. This is only an application made for an eventuality.

THE PRESIDENT: You must make the application now. What is the application; who is the witness?

DR. LATERNSER: If Professor Dr. Schreiber appears here as witness, I would like to call, to give evidence on this subject, Medical Officer Dr. Handloser, as a witness for the defence.

THE PRESIDENT: Is he in Nuremberg, or where?

DR. LATERNSER: I cannot tell you where he is, Mr. President, but I will surely make every effort to find out.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, the Tribunal thinks that the application should. be made in writing giving the reasons why you think this doctor knows anything about the biological warfare, and where you can find him. That concludes your witnesses, does it?


THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has now only the SA to consider. Will you call your witnesses for the SA?

DR. BOEHM: I should like to hear, as first witness, the witness Bock.

FRANZ BOCK, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Franz Bock.

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. Witness, when did you join the SA?

A. I joined the SA in 1922.

Q. What was your profession at the time?

A. At the time I was a commercial employee.

Q. What offices did you hold in the SA?

A. From 1922 to 1929 I was an SA man - an SA private. From 1929 until 1932 I had the following ranks: Truppfuehrer until about 1930; Sturmfuehrer until 1931, and Sturmbannfuehrer until 1932. When I became unemployed around this time, I professionally joined the SA group staff West as an adjutant in 1932. In 1933 I was transferred to the SA group "Bayrische Ostmark" and became Stabsfuehrer. In 1934, as Standartenfuehrer, I was transferred to Traunstein. From 1935 to 1937 I was Brigadefuehrer. In 1937 I became department chief' and late the chief of the leading department of the Supreme Staff of the SA. In

[Page 107]

1940, I performed my military service. After having completed my military service toward the end of 1942, I was sent to Dusseldorf as the leader of the group Lower Rhine. There, I remained until the collapse in 1945.

Q. So, you are one of the oldest SA leaders. You can therefore tell us why the SA was created and how it was organized:

A. Originally, the SA was created as a sports and athletic association in about 1920. Shortly thereafter it were organized into a guard or protective organization, as a security group for duties in assembly halls and for self- protection. At that time the SA consisted of young idealists and front soldiers of the First World War and it was not particularly organized until approximately 1923. It was created in accordance with local needs and necessities as the Party happened to see fit.

Q. You have talked of a self-protection squad for duties in assembly halls What was to be achieved by these means?

A. The spreading of National Socialist ideas was met with much resistance by political opponents, who tried to fight the Party with all means, even with means of terror. From that a so-called protective organization arose and a so- called assembly security guard.

Q. Why did the SA declare its main task to be the fight against the opponents of their movement and its great aims.

A. Every desire for self-preservation demands a struggle. The realization of National Socialistic ideas, with the aim to assume power in the State, required political struggles and fighting. Our weapons, however, were spiritual ones - propaganda, the spoken word, and mass demonstrations.

Q. What was the development of the SA from 1925 until its strict organization in 1931?

A. The SA from 1925 on developed organically, generally speaking, keeping pace with the development of the entire Party. It was closely connected with the Party, and merely had a very insignificant organisational construction of its own. At that time, the Party and the SA were recognized by the rulers of the State and were legalised by them, just as all other political parties, as, for instance, the Reichsbanner, or the Red Front Fighters' Association, or the Union of Storm Fighters, who were parts of the various organizations and parties of the time.

Q. What reasons existed in your opinion for reorganizing in 1931?

A. The development of the Party and with it the spreading of the SA over the entire Reich necessitated at that time, in my opinion, a closer co-ordination and a corresponding organization of the leadership of the SA. Furthermore, it was urgently necessary, because of the Party rallies which took place every year and in which the SA was mainly responsible for the rallying, that the SA should be closely organized and united for these propagandistic purposes.

Q. Why did the SA wear uniforms, and were they of a military type?

A. In my opinion, it is not correct that the SA had military uniforms in the literal sense. First of all they had a grey wind-jacket and later on a brown shirt, but most of the outer clothing was of a civilian nature. The SA had to have a certain uniform at that time to distinguish it from the other political organizations such as the Reichsbanner, etc. It would be fallacious to hold that the uniform was of a military character and we never considered that this type of clothing could or should be of a military nature.

Q. Did the members of the other organizations at the time wear any badges of distinction indicating they were units?

A. Yes, of course; the Reichsbanner, for instance, had uniforms similar to ours and they wore our type of grey wind- jackets and special caps. As far as I remember, the Red Front Fighters' Association too, wore a kind of uniform, a green-brown shirt, etc. All organizations at the time were appearing in the uniform typical of their organization.

[Page 108]

Q. Did the SA have arms and who was allowed to carry such arms?

A. The SA was not allowed to carry arms in conformity with regulations. After 1933, end of 1933 or beginning of 1934, the SA received the so-called "Dagger of Honour." Later on, only a leader was allowed to carry a pistol and then only if he had an appropriate police permit or a valid SA passport. The carrying of arms, particularly during the period of struggle (Kampfzeit), was supervised by the police and State executive, and I remember when I was a unit leader that before and during every meeting or during our marches and demonstrations, the police searched us for arms. We .had the strictest orders at the time not to carry arms, even if we ran the danger of being attacked.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

Q. Witness, you know that SA members were active in the service of the State and of the police and were armed. By whom were they armed in these instances?

A. As far as I know, the SA units which were used for emergency State services or as auxiliary police were armed by the competent authorities by whom they were employed, and were also generally directed by the corresponding military or police offices.

Q. You know that special units were established in the SA. Please tell me what the tasks of these special units were.

A. These special units were created in the SA in the first place, to correspond to the peculiar characteristics of people of the different regions - for example, the people living near the sea or those living in the mountains - or in the second place to give the SA men the opportunity to make use of their technical abilities. Training in these was, in general, the same as in other SA storm units. Only to the extent that these units had the necessary material at their disposal, or could obtain it as it applied to their special field, was service in these specialized fields carried on.

In addition, particularly in the earlier times, we needed these special units, also called technical units, for our big parades, for the demonstrations and so forth, because thus we could be completely independent. For example, in carrying out a big Party rally in Nuremberg, it was absolutely essential, for directing and encamping 100,000 men, to have the necessary intelligence units and engineering units to make the arrangements ourselves for these rallies; and it was the same in the individual Gaugebiete (zones). There, also, the intelligence units were set up for such purposes.

Furthermore, later these intelligence units and these special units were urgently needed for service during emergencies and for protection against emergencies, for which the SA specialized.

Q. For what purpose did the SA keep musicians' units?

A. They belonged to the marching units when they wanted to appear for propagandistic and recruiting purposes. In addition, they needed these musicians' units for the big rallies and demonstrations of the Party.

Q. From what point of view was assignment in the SA made?

A. I should like to say that that varied greatly everywhere. Partly, it was determined according to purely Party viewpoints, such as I mentioned in regard to these special units for the Party rallies, parades and so forth, for the meetings, for the distribution of handbills, and the like.

Furthermore, the SA service was necessary for arranging the columns for the parades in such a way that they would make a good impression and encourage recruitment. It was the spiritual and physical development of the units which was effected through the training programme of the Higher SA Leadership. And finally, there was the service in emergencies which had to be practised beforehand in order to be effective.

Q. Did the SA members perform their obligations?

[Page 109]

A. As far as I could see in my units, the SA men performed their duty gladly, only there were great difficulties for the men, difficulties arising from their occupational duties due to problems of distance and time. For example, a worker in the Ruhr District could, of course, not always be available to follow up his duties.

As I emphasized at the beginning, service varied greatly, and it was especially difficult in country districts in the summer-time. As a rule efficient training could only be carried on during the few autumn and winter months.

Q. Did the SA men perform their duty according to their oath or in blind obedience?

A. The SA man performed his duty voluntarily. He followed, according to an oath, the orders which were given to him. The oath was that he, the SA man, was bound to absolute obedience to his superior unless illegal things were demanded of him. That is about how it read.

Q. Service in the SA was voluntary, you said. Do you know of no cases in which the principle of voluntary service was broken?

A. It may be that units appeared with the SA which were not built up on a voluntary basis. I am speaking, for example, of the Reich schools of finance or the storm units which were recruited primarily from students later on, or possibly also such national organizations as had been taken over by the SA.

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