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 6 of 8)

[Page 334]

DR. LATERNSER: The testimony of Brigadier-General Pape, in Affidavit 333, refutes, with regard to the sphere of the division which Field-Marshal Model commanded at that time, the Russian charge in Exhibit USSR 62, which is based on the testimony of the soldier Trest. In this division, at the time when Field-Marshal Model, who then of course held a lower rank, commanded it, the order was never carried out.

The testimony of Admiral Schmundt in Affidavit 349 shows that the order was also opposed in the Navy, where it actually had only secondary importance. That the troops of Germany's allies did not treat Russian commissars Contrary to International Law either, is proved by the testimony of Lt.-Colonel Fellmer with reference to the 13th Rumanian Division and the sphere of the Italian Expeditionary Corps. He did not receive the order for transmittal and he did not transmit it.

I ask that the Tribunal study with especial care the summary of the list of affidavits on the Commissar Order, because it shows that the order was not carried out. I would certainly have been in a position to present further evidence on this point if I had had more time at my disposal.

THE PRESIDENT: You have already referred to 75, I think that perhaps is sufficient. I say you have already referred to 75 affidavits.

DR. LATERNSER: On partisan warfare: The prosecution contends that, in the East in particular, this warfare was conducted in violation of International Law. As evidence for these assertions the prosecution has referred to Affidavit 15 of General Roettiger, Exhibit USA 559, to Affidavit 20 of General Haeussinger, Exhibit USA 564, to Affidavit 17, Exhibit USA 562, and to the testimony of the witness von dem Bach-Zelewski. I cross-examined the witnesses Haeussinger and Roettiger before the Commission, and I ask the Tribunal to take notice of these transcripts. General Roettiger, in his Affidavit 15, Exhibit USA 559, made an especially grave charge.

I ask the Tribunal's permission to quote a few passages of the examination before the Commission concerning this point. General Roettiger had asserted that there existed orders of the High Command of the Army saying that the most severe measures were to be taken; furthermore, he asserted that only a few prisoners were made, and that the number of prisoners taken by the enemy

[Page 335]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, we have got to consider, not these individual details, but we have got to consider the criminal character of the organization charged. First of all, whether it is an organization within the meaning of the charter, and, secondly, whether it is a criminal organization. Here you wanted to draw our attention to individual details about partisan warfare in your cross- examination of the witness before the Commission. As I have pointed out, we have nearly 3,000 affidavits on your behalf to consider. If you would only give us the numbers of the affidavits which you say relate to a particular topic, then we shall know what relates to that topic and we shall be able to consider it.

DR. LATERNSER: But the prosecution presented these details and they constitute a very grave charge; I want to prove the contrary -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, they did, and I have a reference to them. They were presented in the US Affidavits 559 to 564, and I am perfectly well aware that you have cross-examined the witness. What I want to know is what affidavits you want to draw, our attention to in reply to the case of the prosecution on partisan warfare.

DR. LATERNSER: I draw the attention of the Tribunal to Pages 3519 to 3523 of the Commission transcript. The result of the cross-examination is that the affidavit of General Roettiger presented by the prosecution was completely refuted. As counter-evidence I refer to Affidavits 901 to 1043, and with regard to the suppression of the Warsaw uprising to Affidavits 1501 to 1507. In detail, Affidavits 901 to 905 contain general statements on partisan warfare and on the suppression of partisan attacks in all theatres of war. Especially significant is Affidavit 903, by Field-Marshal von Weichs. Affidavits 906 to 931 give examples of the fighting methods of the partisans, while Affidavits 906 to 920 describe particularly dreadful atrocities committed by partisan bands. Affidavits 921 to 924 prove the partisans' actions in violation of International Law, with regard to clothing, weapons, and other details. Affidavits 925 to 931 describe the extent of sabotage of railways.

That in spite of this the Germans fought according to the rules of International Law is proved by Affidavits 932 to 970. They show that the partisans were treated like prisoners of war.

Affidavits 972 to 1033 show that there was no talk at the front about orders or intentions of the supreme command to use partisan warfare for the purpose of exterminating Jews or Slavs.

Affidavits 1033 to 1040 and 1050 deal with the charge against the Commander-in-Chief of the 18th Army, that on 30th October, 1942, he ordered that without discrimination all partisans were to be shot. In this connection I refer to the affidavit of General Lindemann himself, who was the Commander-in-Chief of the 18th Army. This shows that such an order was never given. He describes the entry in the war diary of the Wehrmacht Operational Staff, Document 1786-PS, as incorrect.

Affidavit 1041 of General von Mellenthin is a description of a large-scale operation against partisans. In spite of an application of Army Group North to the OKH that the Army should be entrusted with this operation, the undertaking was carried out under Himmler's direction by General of Police von dem Bach-Zelewski. This affidavit serves to refute the testimony of von dem Bach-Zelewski, in which he describes himself as nothing more than an agency for the collection of reports. To prove that this assertion of the witness von dem Bach-Zelewski is incorrect, I further refer to the testimony of the witness Haeussinger before the Commission.

Concerning the suppression of the Polish uprising in Warsaw, Affidavits 1501 to 1507, particularly the statement of General Guderian, 1501, state:

1. That General of Police von dem Bach-Zelewski was entrusted with the task of suppressing the uprising.

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2. That he was appointed to this task by Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler and was directly subordinate to him.

3. That he received his orders from him, that is, neither from the OKH nor from Army Group Centre nor from the 9th Army.

4. That the majority of the troops employed in Warsaw consisted of SS and police troops, including the SS Brigade Kaminski.

5. That the particular atrocities against the population in Warsaw were committed by the SS Brigade Kaminski, which consisted of Eastern peoples, and that this brigade was withdrawn from the battlefield to prevent further excesses, and that its leaders were punished.

6. That the 9th Army took exemplary care of the population escaping from Warsaw.

I will not quote any more details of this Affidavit 1501.

As further proof that Army agencies had nothing to do with the battle in Warsaw, I present the testimony of General von Formann, Affidavit 1504.

Exhibit USSR 128, on Pages 161 and 162 of my Document Book 2, also shows that the Wehrmacht agencies had nothing to do with the destruction of Warsaw which was apparently intended in 1944.

I should like to make one reference to partisan warfare in Italy. The prosecution presented two orders of the commander there, Field-Marshal Kesselring, and considers them to be violations of International Law. I refer to the testimony of Field-Marshal Kesselring before the Commission, Pages 2084 to 2124 of the Commission transcript. In this examination, the witness emphasized that he had to take these temporary measures to suppress the uprising and that through taking them he succeeded in becoming master of the situation. This testimony of Field-Marshal Kesselring is confirmed by Affidavit 3004 of General Roettiger.

Treatment of prisoners: The prosecution charges the military leaders with planning, tolerating or committing crimes against prisoners of war in all theatres of war. The Russian prosecution, in particular, enumerates specific atrocities, which I do not wish to mention in detail. In so far as they affect the circle of persons whom I represent, I shall refute these accusations by affidavits.

I refer first to Affidavit 1101 of Field-Marshal von Kuechler, which deals with the principles of the treatment of prisoners of war. Lt.-Colonel Schaeder testifies in Affidavit 1102 that in November, 1941, in Orscha, he participated in a discussion between the Chief of the General Staff, General Halder, and the chiefs of the three army groups on the Eastern Front, at which the feeding of prisoners was also discussed. The Army Groups Centre and South, which had just taken many prisoners, asked for permission to use Army supplies to supplement the food allowances of the prisoners, and, if necessary, even to reduce the rations of the German troops for this purpose. In this connection, I further refer to the Affidavits 1103, 1104, 1104a, 1105a to c, and 1106 to 1109, inclusive. A particularly important affidavit is Affidavit 3146 of General Gercke. General Gercke was, from August, 1939, to the end of the war, chief of transport in the OKH. He states that the transports of Soviet prisoners of war were treated exactly like the transports of other prisoners of war. The prisoners were transported together in closed freight cars, and orders deviating from this procedure were never issued. Open flat cars, as contended by the prosecution, were used only very seldom and only on transports over short distances, because there was a great scarcity of the closed type of car. In no case were transports in the winter sent intentionally in open cars in order to let the prisoners freeze to death. That is shown by Affidavit 3146.

Now I come to the refutation of individual points of the Russian charges concerning the treatment of prisoners. In Part 6, Page 302, it is stated that corpses of Red Army men were found on the island of Khortitsa on the Dnieper.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, the Tribunal has already said that it intends only to listen to you for half a day and unless you shorten or unless you have in

[Page 337]

mind the shortening of your address it does not look as if you will be able to do it. If you cannot do it, then we will have to take your documents as they are without any further reference. It seems to me that with reference to prisoners of war, all you have got to do is tell us what are the numbers of the affidavits which deal with it and say "I particularly refer to" such and such an order or such and such an affidavit, and then we shall know that you attach particular importance to those affidavits, but to deal with it in detail like this is simply wasting our time. Anyhow, what I mean is, that at the end of half a day your address on these topics will cease.

DR. LATERNSER: But, Mr. President, I must have an opportunity of answering the accusations of the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: You are having that opportunity at the present moment and you have had since twelve o'clock.

DR. LATERNSER: In Part 6, p. 302, it is asserted that on the island of Khortitsa on the Dnieper, corpses of Red Army men were found, who had been tortured, whose- hands had been cut off, whose eyes had been put out, and whose stomachs had been cut open. This is refuted by the Affidavit 1115 of Field-Marshal von Kleist, who was Commander-in-Chief of the troops there. No German troops were used on this island, but the Hungarian Light Corps was fighting there. That is shown by Affidavit 1115.

In the northern sector of the Eastern Front, according to Page 4337 of the transcript, prisoners are said to have been driven before the attacking German troops who used them as shields. This is clearly refuted by the testimony of the former Commander-in-Chief of the 18th Army, General Lindemann, Affidavit 1116a. This testimony is reinforced on the same point by the affidavit of Colonel Nolte, 3159.

The Russian Exhibit USSR 151 and the speech of the prosecution on Pages 4360 to 4365 of the transcript contain the examination of General von Oesterreich who made especially serious charges with regard to the treatment of prisoners. As counter-evidence I present Affidavit 1117 which proves that von Oesterreich's account of the conference in May, 1941, is quite wrong. In particular the affidavit refutes the assertion that orders were given to fire on fleeing prisoners or to poison prisoners incapable of working.

According to Page 318, Part 6, numerous prisoners in the prison of Sevastopol are said to have been intentionally killed by harsh treatment. This assertion is clearly disproved by the testimony of the Army doctor of the 11th Army at that time, Generalstabsarzt Grosse, in his Affidavit 1118. According to Page 327, Part 6, three railway trains full of prisoners of war are said to leave been taken from Kerch to Sevastopol and the prisoners burned or drowned at sea there on 4th September, or December, 1943. This assertion is disproved by the testimony of Generals Deichmann and Roettiger in Affidavits 3140 and 3007; both generals were in the Crimea at that time. The Russian prosecution, on Page 327, Part 6, portrays the conduct of the Germans in the violent fighting in the quarries near Kerch as bestial. Gas is said to have been used, and according to the testimony of a woman who apparently made an exact count, 900 prisoners were mistreated or shot. The clear testimony of the commanding general in that area, General Mattenklott, contradicts this; the reference is Affidavit 1121.

Exhibit USSR 62, and the prosecution's assertion that on the orders of Field-Marshal Model and General Nehring no prisoners were to be taken, are refuted by Affidavits 1222a to f, that is, by six affidavits on this particular point. With regard to the alleged mistreatment of prisoners in Norwegian camps; General von Falkenhorst, in Affidavit 1123, proves that these prisoners were not under military control but under the SS.

Affidavits 1150 to 1160 testify that wounded prisoners were everywhere treated like our own wounded. From the many theatres of war there is testimony that

[Page 338]

the enemy himself acknowledged that the treatment was good. On this point I submit Affidavits 1161 and 1162, the latter containing an acknowledgement by the American General Storm. Number 116,5 testifies to a letter of thanks from the nephew of the King of England, and 1166 to several letters from RAF officers to the Commandant of the Air Force Prisoner Camp at Oberursel thanking him for his chivalrous attitude. Affidavit 1168 shows that in October, 1942, the commander of the Fourteenth Division, General Heim, in an order for the German troops at Stalingrad, stated that Russian prisoners were to be provided with food and that for this purpose food supplies for the German troops were to be further reduced, although they were already very small. Further examples of the chivalrous treatment of captured enemy soldiers are given in Affidavit 1170, and in that of General Student, 1171. When infantile paralysis broke out among English prisoners in Crete, General Student sent a transport plane to Berlin for the necessary serum, in spite of the difficult position of the German troops, who were dependent on supplies from the air. Oberstabsarzt Dr. Schaefer, in Affidavit 1172, says that the Mountain Rescue Service in the Alps saved approximately 350 enemy airmen from death.

Affidavit 1174 testifies to outstanding personal chivalry, and I would like to refer to it.

THE PRESIDENT: Surely, Dr. Laternser, you can give us the reference to y. the numbers of the affidavits which state that prisoners were treated properly. Why waste time about it by telling us what each affidavit says. You only have to tell us that these affidavits refer to good treatment by individuals.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr: President, if I only give numbers and do not refer at least partially to the contents, none of this material will have any weight because these affidavits have not been translated. Of all the affidavits, only approximately 40 have been translated. If I cannot go into at least some of the contents, then the Tribunal will not be able to take these affidavits into consideration at all.

THE PRESIDENT: We have got the summary before us in writing. What you are practically doing in every case is to repeat the summary which we have already before us in writing; for instance, 1174 (Decent Treatment of English Prisoners). There is another one from some of the British officers showing who the British officer is and saying what he said about the treatment. Well, I have made it quite clear to you, I hope, that you will not be allowed to go on beyond a half day; and now the Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

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