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 7 of 8)

[Page 338]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will not sit on Saturday next.

DR. LATERNSER: The Russian prosecution makes charges concerning the robbing of corpses. Evidence to the contrary is given in Affidavits 1176 and 1178.

The Russian prosecution asserts that Soviet prisoners of war were forced to serve in the German Wehrmacht. In this connection I refer to Affidavits 1179 to 1203, which show that in one year alone the number of volunteers was 500,000 men.

On the subject of the treatment of prisoners in the home area, I refer to Affidavits 1208 to 1213.

On the subject of special measures for the prevention of excesses, I refer to Affidavits 1214 to 1216.

Destruction and plundering: I have subdivided my material into five sections:

1. Alleged destruction and desecration of churches.

2. Destruction during the advance in the East.

3. Alleged destruction and plundering of cultural monuments and cultural sites.

4. Destruction during the retreat.

5. Plundering.

[Page 339]

Affidavits 1301 to 1353 refute the assertion of the prosecution concerning the destruction and desecration of numerous churches. Most of the churches had already been destroyed or had already been desecrated by being turned into warehouses, workshops, or, in individual cases, into atheistic museums. Affidavits 1301 to 1323 give evidence of this. During the retreat, churches were especially protected - Affidavit 1324. Affidavits 1325 to 1348 prove that in fact the churches were restored to their religious purpose.

Special protection of churches: in the French campaign, the prevention of a major fire in the cathedral at Rouen, by order of a high military commander, is shown by Affidavits 1349 to 1353.

With reference to section 2, Affidavits 1354 to 1401 deal with the destruction during the advance. Affidavits 1354 to 1362 prove the organized work of Soviet commandos who were charged with destruction before the German advance. Affidavit 1363 shows the tremendous destruction carried out by the Russians in the Donetz Basin, and in the industrial areas of Stalino, Maikop, Artenisk, Dnjeprepetrowsk, Kriwoi- Rog, Orel, Ovchen-Kisegrad, Saporozhe, Smolensk, Witebsk, Rowno, Riga and Charkow.

In Witebsk, according to Affidavit 1319, firebrand commandos were supplied with cans of petrol. All this refutes the assertions of the prosecution on Pages 4812, 4590 and 4857 of the transcript.

The dam at Saporozhe was destroyed by the Russians themselves. This is proved by Affidavits 1371 to 1384.

The chief reason for destruction in France is explained by Affidavit 1400.

Destructions in Greece were not carried out by the German troops but by the retreating troops, and this is proved by Affidavit 1401.

Affidavits 1402 to 1552 deal with section 3, destruction and plundering of cultural monuments, and clearly refute a number of assertions.

Affidavit 1402 was deposed by Field-Marshal von Kueckler and states that art treasures were taken from areas at the front to the rear and stored in a secure museum in Pleskau. In a ceremony there they were handed over to the Metropolitan of the city.

Leningrad: Destruction was determined by military necessity. Affidavits 1403 to 1405 are proof thereof and refute the testimony of the witnesses Orbeli and Lomakin. Affidavits 1406 to 1411 refer to the castles in the vicinity of Leningrad, most of which were destroyed by Russian fire.

The famous estate of Tolstoy in Yasnaja Poljana was protected by the Germans upon express orders of General Guderian, as shown by Affidavits 1412 to 1418. One of these affidavits deposes that in the Russian victory film of the spring of 1942 the Tolstoy estate was shown undamaged after recapture. The Tchaikovsky Museum in Klin was not plundered by the Germans. Proof: Affidavits 1419 to 1422. Affidavits 1423 to 1427 prove that the observatory in Bulkowo was never in German hands and therefore was not plundered by the German Wehrmacht. The observatory at Siemais in the Crimea was not plundered by German troops. According to Affidavit 1428 the instruments were removed by the Russians in their retreat before the German troops marched in.

Destruction in Novgorod (Affidavits 1429 to 1438) was never ordered. The Petri Church and the famous Schwarzhaupter House in Riga were not destroyed by the Germans but by fire by the Russians themselves.

Riga, Reval and Novgorod suffered heavily through Russian bombing attacks. The church treasures of Novgorod were not plundered by German troops; The Russians in 1941 loaded these treasures on a ship which sank in Molchop and remained lying there. Proof of this: Affidavits 1429 to 1438.

The monument, "1000 Years of Russia," was treated by the Germans correctly and with great care. Proof of this: Affidavits 1439 to 1440.

An order to set 500 villages in the neighbourhood of Pleskau on fire was never given. Proof: Affidavits 1441 to 1443.

[Page 340]

General Mackensen did not rob the museum in Rostov of valuable paintings. Proof: Affidavit 3021.

Destruction in Kiev: Kiev came into German hands relatively undamaged. Affidavits 1444 to 1451 prove that the destruction was caused primarily by time bombs. The German troops did everything to fight the fire and do away with the mines, and in that way the Lenin Museum was saved. Hoses to fight the fire were brought in from Germany by aeroplane. Proof of this: Affidavits 1444 to 1451.

Plundering in Tula never took place. German troops were never in Tula, but only reached the edge of the city; see Affidavit 1452.

Affidavits 1453 to 1483 refer to plundering and destruction during the retreat. Affidavit 1483 of General Woehler gives proof of the fact that at the last minute the wish of a high Russian Church prelate in Poltava that Church valuables be safeguarded was fulfilled.

Affidavits 1484 to 1500 and 1551 to 1591 prove that plundering of any kind was strictly prohibited and was severely punished, even if an object of small value was involved.

Affidavit 3024 of General Eberbach is especially important and proves that the order given by Hitler in the summer of 1944 that everything was to be destroyed in the retreat from France was not carried out by the Commander-in-Chief of the Seventh Army in agreement with Field-Marshal Model.

For the Italian theatre of war, there is the testimony of witnesses Kesselring and Weizsaecker, and, in addition, Affidavits 3008, 3025 and 3026, which show that:

1. Cities of cultural value were evacuated in good time.

2. Art treasures from Monte Cassino, Ravenna, Bologna and Rimini were protected and removed to safety.

3. The destruction of industrial installations which had been ordered was not carried out, and through the personal intervention of a German general the Port of Genoa was saved from being blown up. This is shown in Affidavits 3008, 3025 and 3026.

I should like to refer to Documents USSR 115, USSR 168 and Mil. 19, contained in my document book. The Wehrmacht communique of 18th May, 1940, shows that Louvain was taken after hard fighting. This explains the damage to the university at Louvain, which the witness van der Essen believed he could attribute to arbitrary acts.

Treatment of the civilian population: The Russian prosecution asserted on Page 4101 of the trial transcript that the directives for the Barbarossa order called for the physical destruction of people under suspicion. In order to refute this, I refer to Affidavits 1601, 1601a and 1601b, which show that frequently the death penalty was imposed for excesses, especially in cases of rape.

1601c offers evidence of three death sentences for crimes committed against a Russian family.

As to the assertion that the German Wehrmacht, on 1st July, 1941, carried out a mass killing in Lvov, Affidavits 1602, 1603 and 1604 show that when the German troops marched in many rows of partly mutilated corpses were found, and viewed by several generals.

On 2nd July the 49th Mountaineer Corps took steps against the maltreatment of Jews by the local Ukrainians. According to the prosecution, Pages 4496 and 4497, 135,000 corpses were found in the area of Smolensk. Evidence to the contrary: Affidavits 3006 and 1607, showing that especially good relations existed with the population there. Among other things, the famed cathedral at Smolensk was restored and reopened. During the retreat large masses of the population followed the German troops against the wish of the commanders. That is proved by Affidavit 1608.

[Page 341]

It has been alleged that children were poisoned with coffee and cake at Kerch. Evidence to the contrary: 1609, an affidavit by General Konrad, which also shows that relations with the population of the Crimea were especially good. I refer particularly to Affidavits 1611 and 1612 in this connection.

According to the assertion of the prosecution, a harsh alarm order was issued by the commander of Feodosia and instructions published by the 260th Infantry Division. Evidence: Affidavit 1612a, which shows that a 260th Infantry Division was never stationed in the Crimea. Supplementary proof: 1614.

With regard to the reprisals in Kiev in 1941, mentioned by the prosecution, I refer to an affidavit by General von Obstfelder, number 1615.

According to Affidavit 1616, also deposed by General von Obstfelder, German troops gave substantial aid to an insane asylum which presented a dreadful picture of negligence, as the inmates had been left to look after themselves.

With regard to the alleged murder of 33,000 Jews in Kiev, I refer to Affidavit 1665, deposed by General Heim. He knows of no order to that effect.

In the autumn of 1943 195,000 persons are alleged to have been killed in mass executions and in gas vans in Kiev. For counter-evidence I refer to Affidavits 1116a, 1116b, and 1116c, which show that the Wehrmacht never possessed any gas vans.

According to the prosecution, the military command in Stalingrad sowed death everywhere. The state of things in Stalingrad is described in Affidavit 1617.

The accusation is made that the German Wehrmacht took 144,000 Russians out to sea on ferries and then drowned them. I refer to Affidavits 1609, 3007, 3140, 1625, and 1625a, which show, among other things, that, the shipping space was so inadequate that not even the supplies of the German troops could be entirely handled by sea transport and that the air transport service had to help out.

It is asserted, quite generally, that the Wehrmacht participated in the persecution of the Jews. I refer to Affidavit 1629 deposed by Field-Marshal von Kuechler, who describes at great length the absolute refusal of the Wehrmacht to take part in such things, and its endeavours to take measures against excesses.

Affidavits 1630 and 1632 are of significance in this connection, they testify especially to the medical help provided, against the wish of certain quarters, during a spotted fever epidemic among the Jews. To show that no orders were issued for the killing of Jews or other members of the population of the occupied territories, and also that troops did not take part therein, I refer to Affidavits 3051, 3057, 3083 3054, 3097, 3099, 3111, 3142, 3150, and 3172.

Some documents of the Soviet prosecution, including Exhibit USSR 291, Pages 1 to 3, allege that atrocities were committed in the area of Vyasma and Rizhevska, and also in the area of Rzhev.

Affidavit 1633, by General Praun, deals with the accusation made against General Weiss that he ordered people in Rzhev to be hanged. Two women were sentenced to death at that time and were hanged publicly. Reason: The murder of 15 children and the sale of the flesh of these children on the market. For that reason two women were hanged publicly at Rzhev.

Exhibit USSR 2, Page 7, speaks of slavery in Stalino. Evidence to the contrary Affidavit 1637, of General Kittel.

Exhibit USSR 91, Pages 1 and 8 of the record, mentions atrocities near Leningrad and Pskov; refutation by Affidavit 1640, deposed by Field-Marshal von Kuechler. The alleged shooting of 50,000 inhabitants of the city of Narva is refuted by the statement of the same officer, in Affidavits 1646 and 1647.

Numerous measures to aid the city of Pleskau are described in Affidavit 1645.

Exhibit USSR 39 deals with Esthonia; refutation of this document by Field-Marshal von Leeb, Affidavit 1641.

The attitude taken by the Commanders-in-Chief with respect to the Reichenau order is shown in Affidavits 1662, 1663, and 1665. The last affidavit, 1665, state

[Page 342]

the reasons for this decree of Field-Marshal von Reichenau. One of the reasons was the murder of two German officers.

With regard to Italy, the correct behaviour of the troops is described in Affidavits 1666, 1667 through 1670. Among these is an affidavit of the Prince of Hessen, who also mentions the view of the King of Italy at that time.

The same correct behaviour is described with regard to Yugoslavia in Affidavits 1671 and 1672.

Especially and admittedly good co-operation took place in Norway and Denmark; evidence of this is contained in Affidavits 1673 and 1674. Numerous examples of the endeavours of the Wehrmacht to win the co-operation of the Belgian and French populations, above all through the strictest control of troop discipline, are shown in Affidavits 1675 to 1679.

General Blaskowitz testifies in Affidavit 1680, and two other generals in Affidavits 1681 and 1682, that the Wehrmacht took severe measures against excesses by the troops in Poland. Against plundering many strict measures were taken. Proof: Affidavits 1683 and 1685.

It is known that a saying was used in all occupied countries: "German soldier with eagle on the chest - very good." And the fact that this was so is due to the military leadership.

With respect to the administration of military justice I should first of all like to call the attention of the High Tribunal to the diagram contained in my document book, numbered Mil. 12, on Pages 72 to 74. This diagram, Page 74, shows that the Commander-in-Chief of an army may at times be the judicial appointing authority only for a small part of the army area under his command.

For the attitude of the military leaders to the judicial system, I refer to Affidavits 501, 502a, and 503. In addition, three of the highest judges of the former German Wehrmacht were examined; their attitude can be gathered from Affidavits 504, 505, and 5o6. These embrace the testimony of Judge General (Generaloberstabsrichter) Lehmann and Judge General von Hammerstein. They describe what severe punishments were inflicted for crimes against the population of the East, and how Wehrmacht justice finally made its will prevail over Hitler's will.

The Commando Order: The prosecution submitted Document 498- PS, Exhibit USA 5o1, and Document 503-PS, Exhibit USA 542, and I should like to point out that both of these documents were signed by Hitler.

Affidavit 600 describes in detail that this Commando Order must be traced back to the sole initiative of Hitler, and that he did not consult his Commanders-in-Chief at the front before issuing it. Affidavit 600, therefore, refutes the assertion of the prosecution that the military leaders had a part in the publication of this order. With regard to the execution of this Commando Order, the prosecution has pointed out three cases which took place in Norway. Unfortunately, I was not able to obtain any material on these cases.

In the Italian theatre of war, according to the statement of the prosecution, three British Commando units were captured on 2nd November, 1942, and turned over to the SD for special treatment: Documents 509-PS, Exhibit USA 547. The prosecution submitted this document, 509-PS, as proof that these units were actually handed over, as is set down in this report to the OKW.

This is an obvious conclusion but, as I shall prove, it is not correct. I refer to the testimony of General Westphal, given before the Commission, in which he expressly states under oath that these three British Commando units - the witness stated the exact place of their landing - were not turned over to the SD, but were sent to a prisoner-of-war camp, and that the report to the OKW to which the prosecution refers, Document 509-PS, was an inaccurate report which did not correspond to the facts. In these three cases, therefore, the Commando Order was not applied. Thus General Westphal's statement made under oath before the Commission refutes Document 509-PS.

[Page 343]

The case of Dostler I was not able to clarify, because the records of the court martial were not put at my disposal despite my request. Nevertheless, I should like to point out that a supplementary order by Field-Marshal Kesselring was issued, and that he reserved the right to determine just what constituted a commando operation. General Dostler does not belong to the group of persons accused.

On the basis of Document L-51, Exhibit USA 521, it is alleged that in accordance with the order directing the application of the Commando Order to foreign military missions, several persons were shot. I refer to the contents of Document L-51, Exhibit USA 521, which clearly shows that the Wehrmacht had nothing to do with this matter.

I further refer to Document C-178, which shows that the General Staff of the Army and the General Staff of the Air Force protested against the Commando Order. I also refer to Affidavit 610 regarding the application or non-application of the Commando order in the theatre of war in the West, and supplementary Affidavits 611 and 622. Affidavit 617 shows that this order was not applied in the Netherlands. Affidavit 601 shows that the order was not applied in Africa; this is confirmed by Affidavits 603c and 603d. Affidavits 614 and 621 show that the order was not applied in the Italian theatre of war, and of particular importance in this connection is Affidavit 619, in which proof is given that Field-Marshal Kesselring reserved the right to determine what constituted a commando operation.

I further refer to Affidavits 3147 and 3148, which show that the Commander-in-Chief, South-east, ordered that English Commando units landing on the Aegean Islands were not to be considered as Commandos but as German prisoners of war.

General Boehme affirms in Affidavit 3174 -

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