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 and Eighth Day: Wednesday, 21st August, 1946
(Part 3 of 8)

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DR. PELCKMANN: Your Lordship, I regret very much that the translation of the summary is not at hand. It would, of course, greatly facilitate the understanding and the grouping of this material. Group V deals with statements concerning the general ignorance of the bulk of the SS membership, 96,257 affidavits being at our disposal. They tell us that the majority of the members of the SS knew nothing about the crimes attributed to them before the capitulation. They say that in general, but they particularize when they deal with the various types of crimes concerned. One fact is specially significant in this connection and is particularly emphasized. At the time when these crimes assumed a larger scale, that is, during the war, the mass of the SS was fighting at the front; and for that reason alone it could not have any knowledge of incidents of that sort, for the information of the man at the front is extremely limited, as experience teaches.

Next comes Group VI. It deals with the assertion made by the prosecution that the SS had been a unit. The first question is whether the branch organizations formed an actual unit. There are 5.700 affidavits dealing with this question. One- half shows that a conscious effort towards unification for purposes of carrying through a conspiracy was totally lacking. The other half refers to the fact that the Waffen SS was not basically recruited from the General SS. Therefore, it emphasises the separation between the General SS and the Waffen SS. The second question is whether the members of the various branch organizations knew of the activities carried out by the other branches. The significance of the question could not be recognized by the members of the SS without a previous explanation, and therefore few of the affidavits deal with it. Those few affidavits that we have concerning that activity of the various main offices of the SS confirm that they were set up separately, and that a personnel union existed only in the person of Himmler himself.

Several affidavits refer to the fact that, for instance, the personnel of the concentration camps were made up of the most diverse groups and components. Many affidavits emphasize that the state of secrecy which had been ordered, as for example, by the Fuehrer Decree Number One, which has been quoted frequently, and also through special directives, prohibited a close co-operation of the various branches of the SS. In some other affidavits it is said that the General SS on the one hand, and the police and the SD on the other, did not form a joint body.

Very informative are the affidavits which deal with the components of the Leibstandarte, 1934. Less than ten per cent of the members of this Leibstandarte were at the same time members of the General SS. A large number of these affidavits state that during the war, practically speaking, the General SS did not exist. Three hundred and forty-two affidavits deal with numerous affiliated groups or branches of the SS. These, in truth, only exercised activities of a definite, specialized character; they were not concerned with carrying through the alleged SS activities, and had only a loose connection with the General SS. Among these groups we find the SS mounted units, the Reitersturme, who devoted themselves to motor riding; SS female helpers, who, like the Wehrmacht female helpers, were only used during the war in intelligence and information service; others were the SS sport organizations, the Lebenshorn, the medical units, front units of the German Reichspost, signal units; and so forth.

Affidavits of Group VII, numbering 3,174, deal with the question of the SS attitude toward the Church. On the basis of their positive statements, these show

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that, according to their conviction, a persecution of the Church was not intended by the SS leadership.

Under VIII there are 127 affidavits grouped together which testify to the fact that many offices under Himmler had no connection with the SS and, further, that between Himmler and the SS an estrangement had arisen especially in the course of the war.

Under IX, 435 affidavits are summarised. They deal with the behaviour of our enemies during the war and after the capitulation. These affidavits, based on the experience of the SS men, contain statements about actions contrary to International Law which the enemy perpetrated in combat. Names of places are given, as are theatres of war, nationality of the enemy, and the kind of excesses that occurred. The enumeration is intended to show that excesses of this kind can hardly be prevented during war and that for that reason one cannot conclude that excesses were systematized. They serve the purpose of showing that the German troops, and especially the Waffen SS, if they are confronted with isolated cases of violations of International Law, which some of the affidavits say were punished, cannot be charged with having acted according to a system.

The last group is X. It contains 57 affidavits which reproduce the actual personal impressions of foreigners about the SS. From the recognition given by these foreigners, which was known within the SS, the individual SS man concluded that the general behaviour of the SS could not be criminal, and that its activity was not objected to by the world as a whole. Various personalities are mentioned in relation to certain incidents; the opinions of prominent Americans, Englishmen and Russians are given, such as Daladier, Chamberlain, Lord Rothermere, Chaim Weitzmann, and others.

Finally, I should like to submit, but without going into a detailed explanation of it, a statistical record, set up on the basis of a circular.

With that, my Lord, I have concluded the submission of affidavits and documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you next, Dr. Laternser?

DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the OKW): First of all, I should like to submit the list of the fourteen witnesses whose testimony I expect to use, as well as the transcripts dealing with their interrogations.

Moreover, I have a complete list of the affidavits submitted to the Commissions, and I have submitted this list. An English translation of it, contained in one volume, has been placed before the High Tribunal. It is the list which has been referred to this morning by the President. I made an orderly compilation of the subject matter, and have supplied this list with an index. The numbers of the affidavits are given, as are the names of the deponents and a brief description of the contents of the affidavits. In this way the rather comprehensive and, in my opinion, especially valuable evidence is easily understandable.

The basis for the judgement of the circle of persons accused is the organization and structure of the highest Wehrmacht leadership. For this purpose I should like to submit Document Mil. No. 2, which you will find on Pages 12 and 13 of the first volume of the document book. From the diagram on Page 13 we can see the actual method of ranking from the highest Wehrmacht leadership. I need this document as counter-evidence because the drafts of the Wehrmacht leadership submitted by the prosecution - Exhibits USA 531 and 532 - are not correct in various points and have led again and again to misunderstandings.

Concerning those mainly responsible for the conduct of the war, I should like to submit Document Mil. No. 3. This contains a rather large diagram.

The diagram on Page 13 shows the structure, and I should like to show in what manner the responsibility for the conduct of the war was shared between the military leaders and the other organs. From this diagram we see, first of all, that a clear distinction must be made between the military leadership of this war and

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the ideological political conduct of the war which was undertaken by Hitler and his various agencies. You will find the markings in blue for the military leaders, and for the sphere of the ideological and political leadership in red.

The diagram shows also the distribution of command and, thus, of responsibility between military and political leaders. The tasks which the military leaders had are marked in blue, and those which were entrusted to others are marked in red. This diagram shows further what tasks, even though they were in the spheres of the military leaders, were carried through on the responsibility of other agencies and offices in the operational territories which were under military jurisdiction. Thus we see an undermining, of the authority of the military leaders even in the operational zones. A distribution of authority according to areas, and therewith a sharing of responsibility, is also shown in this diagram. Only the clearly defined operational areas were under the jurisdiction of the military leaders, and only for the time the operations were in progress. In all other fields the executive power was purely and solely in the hands of the political leadership, and these functions are indicated in red. Just one more remark in connection with this diagram: The areas outlined in black and dealing with the responsibility of the Wehrmacht commanders do not involve the circle of people accused, for these military commanders do not come within the sphere of the Indictment.

The authenticity of the diagram is affirmed and sworn to by General Winter of the Wehrmachts Fuehrungsstab - the Wehrmacht Operational Staff.

Since I have given the structure of the Wehrmacht leadership to build upon, I shall turn to the circle of accused persons and its composition. The prosecution has -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, the Tribunal would like to know whether there are three colours indicated in this diagram: namely, blue for the armed forces, red for the political forces, and an indiscriminate colour, a mixture of red and blue and black - for an indeterminate body which is half political and half military.

DR. LATERNSER: Yes, Mr. President, that is quite true. The third colour is supposed to be black, and these areas indicated in black show the areas of the Wehrmacht and military Commanders-in-Chief. They are not men who had their commands at the front, but rather Commanders-in-Chief who had a certain territorial power, and I added that this kind of Commander-in-Chief, such as is indicated in black, does not come within the circle of persons accused.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean that in what you call black are included the static military commands, non-operational? You do not mean there is anything political in the black?

DR. LATERNSER: No. But, Mr. President, those who had this power of command cannot be included among the people who are accused under the Indictment.

The prosecution has set up a list of the circle of persons accused in Exhibit USA 778. This may be found on Pages 15-22 of my document book. This list comprises 129 persons. I should like to submit Document Mil. 4 in which three tables are shown. These tables are set up in accordance with Exhibit USA 778.

First of all, turn to Table I, please. It is on Page 24 of the document book. From this table we see that on 1st March, 1933, only one of the leaders indicted was in a high position.

2. On 1st March, 1938, there were only seven.

3. On 1st September, 1939, that is, at the outbreak of the war, there were twenty-two.

4. This is an important point as may be seen from column eight. In November, 1944, the top figure of fifty-two was reached.

5. Only nine generals and admirals were in one of the indicted positions during the entire war.

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Table 2 is found on Page 25. It is a graphic presentation dealing with the duration of membership of the accused generals in the alleged group. You can see from columns 2 to 5 that a long membership was something exceptional. You can see from column 9 that the top figure of 21 had a position falling under the Indictment for only 2-2 1/2 years; whereas the total of sixty-one people only belonged to the alleged group for a period of less than one year. This figure of sixty-one results from the additions of columns twelve to eighteen.

Table 3 found on Page 26 of the document book shows, especially through columns four and five, that out of 129 generals and admirals, one hundred served for less than two years in high positions, that is to say the large majority of the military leaders involved.

I now submit Document Mil. 6. It is found on Pages 27 to 33 of my Document Book I. This document comprises a list of names of the various leaders involved. From this list we can see just how many of the military leaders, at the time when important events took place, held positions which fall under the Indictment.

Then from Pages 27 and 29 you will see: (1) on 1st March, 1933, that is at the time of the assumption of power, one general. (2) on 5th February, 1938, which is the key date in the Indictment against the military personnel, only six generals, and (3) on 1st September, 1939, 23 generals in the list drawn up by the prosecution were in positions falling under this Indictment. Above all it is remarkable that on 1st November, 1944, when we were mainly concerned with the defence of our frontiers, the highest membership in this group was reached, 49 generals in all.

With Document Mil. 7, a copy of which is found on Pages 34 to 40 of Document Book 1, I should like to give you a different perspective of the people involved. The list on Pages 36 to 40 shows the membership of the alleged "group" during certain periods. From the first column we can see that before June, 1941, 33 generals had been in positions which the Indictment covers. Only 21 of that group are still alive. Up to February, 1943, that is during the period when offensive operations were still being carried out, 27 other generals were in such positions as are covered by the Indictment. From February, 1943, until the end of the war, which was the period of strategic defence -

THE PRESIDENT: You said something about only a certain number of them being alive. That is not shown by the table, is it?

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, that will be seen from another chart to which I will refer later. I was just saying that in the last period, from February, 1943 until the end of the war, an additional 69 military leaders were in positions coming under the Indictment. With this document I should like to prove, first of all, that out of the 129 officers indicted, only 33, that is 25 per cent, participated in the preparation for war, and were the only ones who could have done so.

2. 69 generals, which is more than 50 per cent of the group involved, cannot have participated in plans of aggression.

3. 40 generals, which is 30 per cent, only found themselves in positions which are now under indictment when it was a question of defending the Fatherland's frontiers.

From No. 5 on Page 35 you will be able to see that out of 129 generals only 80 had formerly been members of the General Staff.

I shall now turn to Document Mil. 8, which may be found on Pages 41 to 48 of my Document Book No. I. Through this document I should like to bring proofs of a varied nature:

(1) From the first three columns of list 3, which art found on Pages 43 to 48, you will be able to see the number of dead, the number of those who are indicted individually or have been indicted, and the number of those officers who were only charged with the command of an army, and therefore did not definitely hold a position which falls under the Indictment. The sum total of these three columns

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is 56, as can be seen from Page 41, and in this way the number of 129 officers involved is reduced, and thereby also the practical consequences of a sentence which can only affect 73 people at the most.

(2) The last two columns of my list give the number of those officers who, before the end of the war, had lost their positions either through an order, death, or because they were captured. Seventy admirals and generals make up this number out of the total figure of 129. And in this connection -

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think it very much matters, but the last column which contains the reason does not seem to accord with the evidence which has been given to us up to date. Perhaps it is a mistranslation. I do not know. I am referring to Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch and the reason given in the last column.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I intend to explain these two columns and tell the High Tribunal who in this list fell into disgrace. My intention was to give this explanation to the High Tribunal. I wanted to call the attention of the High Tribunal to the fact that it can be seen from the last two columns that 36 generals, because of serious differences of opinion with Hitler or because of active resistance against Hitler, were removed from their positions. As can be seen from the explanatory affidavit attached to the list, those who fell into disgrace did so because of serious differences of opinion between themselves and Hitler.

THE PRESIDENT: All I wish to say is that no such suggestion was made to Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch when he was in the witness box.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I do believe that I can remember that he talked about serious differences of opinion between himself and Hitler.

In this figure of 36 generals who were removed from their positions because of differences of opinion is included, as may be seen from the list, General Hoeppner, who was sentenced to death for having participated in the affair of 20th July, 1944. That may be seen from the last two columns, and I wanted to call the attention of the High Tribunal in this connection to the fact that this is the same General who, in the opinion of the author of Document L-180, allegedly had a very close collaboration with Einsatzgruppe A.

Now I should like to submit Document Mil. 9, which will be found on Pages 49 to 54 of the Document Book No. I. I shall merely point out that this list contains the names of those 31 officers who served less than six months in positions which are included in the Indictment. Most of these officers, as may be seen from this list, had not been appointed Commanders-in-Chief (Oberbefehlshaber), but had been entrusted with matters of administration.

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