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THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has made an order with respect to further proceedings on the charge against organizations and the applications of members thereof. I do not propose to read that order, but the order will be posted on the Defense Counsers information board and will be communicated to them and to the Prosecution.
Dr. Jahrreiss, had you finished your examination?
DR. JAHRREISS: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Does any other of the Defense Counsel wish to examine the witness?
[The witness Kesselring resumed the stand.]
DR. KAUFFMANN: Witness, have you any recollection when the Defendant Kaltenbrunner first came into the public eye?
KESSELRING: I have no knowledge of Kaltenbrunner's becoming particularly prominent in the public eye. I heard the name Kaltenbrunner for the first time when he appeared as successor to General Canaris.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Have you any recollection of him being made the Chief of the Reich Security Main Office in January 1943?
KESSELRING: I may have heard of it, but I have no certain recollection of it.
DR KAUFFMANN: Kaltenbrunner states that in April 1945 he tried to save the country of Austria from further acts of war. Have you by chance any recollection of that?
KESSELRING: I merely heard that Kaltenbrunner was one of those persons who were working for an independent Austria, but I have no definite, accurate knowledge of the situation.
DR. KAUFFMANN, Furthermore, Kaltenbrunner states that he, on the basis of an agreement with the Red Cross at Geneva, had arranged for the return of civilian internees to their homeland through the firing line. He had communicated a request to your office -- not to you personally -- to the effect that a gap should be created in the fighting line to let these civilian internees go home. Do you happen to remember that?
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KESSELRING: It, is quite possible that such a request was actually submitted. It did not come to my personal knowledge, because I was away from my office a great deal.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Witness, have you any recollection when concentration camps were first established in Germany?
KESSELRING: Yes. It was in 1933. 1 remember three concentration camps, but I do not know exactly when they were established: Oranienburg, which I often passed by and flew over; Dachau, which had been discussed vehemently in the newspapers; and Weimar-Nora, Weimar, a concentration camp which I flew over quite frequently on my official trips. I have no recollection of any other concentration camps; but perhaps I may add that, as a matter of principle, I kept aloof from rumors, which were particularly rife during those periods of crisis, in order to devote myself to my own duties which were particularly heavy.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Regarding the internees in the concentration camps, did you have any definite idea as to who would be brought to these concentration camps?
KESSELRING: I had an idea, without knowing where I got it from, which seemed plausible to me; namely, that the National Socialist Revolution should be achieved without the loss of life, and that political opponents should be detained until the founding of the new State had given sufficient security for them to return to public life. That is my knowledge of the situation, from which I conclude, in order to answer your question, that these people must, for the most part, have been persons who were opposed to the National Socialist ideology.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Have you ever thought what the treatment in these concentration camps would be like according to your idea? What was your conception of the treatment of the prisoners in the camps? There may perhaps be a difference according to whether you think of the earlier or the later years?
KESSELRING: I know nothing about the methods of treatment in the camps. During the earlier years, when I was still working in Germany, rumors were heard to the effect that treatment was normal. In the later years I was abroad, that is to say, in theaters of war outside Germany; and I was so far away that I knew nothing whatsoever of these incidents and did not ask for any information about them.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Is it right therefore to assume that as far as the atrocities were concerned which did actually occur, you had no positive knowledge?
KESSELRING: No, I did not have any positive knowledge, not even in March 1945, when I became Supreme Commander in the
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West. Even then the occurrences in the concentration camps were completely unknown to me. This I attributed to two reasons: First, the personal attitude which I expressed earlier, that on principle I concerned myself only with my own business -- which in itself was sufficiently extensive, and secondly, that within the State a police state had developed which had hermetically sealed and closed itself off from the rest of the world.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Have you any proof that there was more knowledge in your officers' circles than what you have just described with regard to yourself?
KESSELRING: I was in very close contact with my officers and I do not believe that there can have been a large number of officers who knew more about these things. Of course I cannot give information regarding individuals.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you know that Hitler had decided to eliminate the Jewish people physically?
KESSELRING: That was absolutely unknown to me.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you not have frequent opportunities to discuss ideological questions with Hitler?
KESSELRING: Whenever I was at headquarters only military and similar questions concerning my theater of war were discussed during the official part of the conversation. When I was invited to a meal, then historical matters or matters of general interest were usually discussed, but acute political problems or ideological questions never came up for discussion. I personally cannot remember any instance when Hitler influenced me, or any of the other generals, in any way whatsoever with regard to professing themselves active National Socialists.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you believe in Hitler's personality in the sense that Hitler was determined to lead the German people to a better Germany, with consideration for personal freedom and respect for human dignity? What was your conception about that?
THE PRESIDENT: What is the relevancy of a witness' belief upon a subject of that sort? What relevancy has it got to do with any part of the case of the Defendant Kaltenbrunner? The Tribunal considers this sort of question a waste of the Tribunal's time.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Is it correct that in the absolute leadership state which existed in Germany any opposition by a human being to a superior order was impossible?
KESSELRING: In that form I would not deny that. One could certainly represent one's own views against another view. But if one's own views were rendered invalid by a decision, absolute obedience became necessary, and its execution was demanded and
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ensured under certain circumstances by the application of penal law. Resistance to that order, or an order, was, according to our knowledge of the personality and attitude of Adolf Hitler, out of the question and would have achieved nothing.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Would not a person attempting to resist a finally issued order have to consider whether he might not be risking his life?
KESSELRING: During the later years that was an absolute certainty.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you at any time think the war could not be won, and if so, when?
KESSELRING: In 1943, the possibility had to be considered that a victorious peace might not be achieved. I emphasize expressly that one had to consider that possibility, for by observing certain organizational or operational measures, the situation might still have been reversed.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you ever discuss this question with someone of importance -- the misgivings which you may have had about the continuance of the war?
KESSELRING: At various times when I discussed my own military sector, I referred to certain difficulties which might influence the outcome of the war in general; however, as representative of one military sector, I considered myself in no way entitled to judge the entire military situation, since I could not, from my limited viewpoint, judge the situation regarding production and the organization of manpower reserves. And as I said before, I refused, as an amateur, to make any statement about a situation, which under certain circumstances might have been regarded as official as it would have had the signature of Field Marshal Kesselring.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you kindly explain to the Tribunal what relevancy the last two or three questions have to the case of Kaltenbrunner?
DR. KAUFFTMANN: The same applies to Kaltenbrunner, that he could not as he says, resist an order. It would have meant the loss of his life.
THE PRESIDENT: You asked the witness whether at any time during the war he thought how long the war would last. What has that got to do with Kaltenbrunner?
DR. KAUFFMANN: The Prosecution accuses several defendants of having continued the struggle in spite of the fact that they knew it was hopeless, and of having prolonged the war. That is the problem I wish to clarify in my last question.
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THE PRESIDENT: I do not think it was put specifically against Kaltenbrunner. If it is your last question you may put it.
DR. KAUFFMANN: If I understand you correctly, Witness, what you are trying to explain is that the leading motive of your continuing to fight was also your duty towards your country?
KESSELRING: That is a matter of course. I had other motives too. One was that the possibility of a political termination of the war was denied, at least officially; but that I believed in it, and I am still convinced of it today, may be proved by the fact that I personally, together with Obergruppenfilhrer Wolff, undertook negotiations through Switzerland with an American, in order to prepare the ground for a political discussion to that end.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, I have no further questions.
THE PRESIDENT: Any other Counsel for the Defense?
HERR PELCKMANN: Witness, Dr. Kauffmann asked you whether the officers' corps had any knowledge of the conditions and the establishment of concentration camps. Do you know that within the Armed Forces so-called national-political instruction courses were held?
KESSELRING: Yes, I know of that.
HERR PELCKMANN: May I ask you whether you know that during one of the Armed Forces national-political courses of instruction, which were held from 15 to 23 January 1937, and I am referring now to Document Number 1992(a)-PS concerning the establishment of concentration camps, Himmler, the SS Leader, in the presence of the assembled officers, made a speech more or less to this effect:
"Naturally, we make a difference between inmates who may be there for a few months for educational purposes, and those who will be there for a long time."
I skip a few sentences, and come to the ones I consider important:
"The order begins by insisting that these people live in clean barracks. This can, in fact, only be achieved by us Germans, for there is hardly any other nation which would act as humanely as we do. Linen is frequently changed. The people are instructed to wash twice a day, and the use of tooth brushes is advised, a thing which is unknown to most of them."
Do you know that the Armed Forces were given instructions of this kind, which, as we know today, do not correspond to conditions as they really were?
KESSELRING: As I said earlier, we did not concern ourselves with such questions at all, and this lecture by Himmler is unknown to me.
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HERR PELCKMANN: Unknown. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Does any other Defense Counsel wish to ask any questions? Then the Prosecution may cross-examine.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You understand, Witness, in giving your testimony, as to the definition of the High Command and the General Staff, as that definition is included in the Indictment, you are accused as a member of that group, do you not?
KESSELRING: I understand.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And that you are testifying here virtually as one of the defendants?
KESSELRING: I understand.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You have spoken of the establishment in Germany of a police state by the National Socialist Party, and I want to ask you whether it is not a fact that the police state rested on two institutions very largely, first, the Secret State Police, and secondly, the concentration camps?
KESSELRING: The assistance by the police is an established fact to me. The concentration camp was, in my opinion, a final means to that end.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And both the secret police and the concentration camp were established by Hermann Goering, is that not a fact known to you?
KESSELRING: The Secret State Police was created by Hermann Goering. Whether it was formed by Himmler...
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Your lectures will be reserved for your own counsel, and I shall ask to have you so instructed. Just answer my questions. Was not the concentration camp also established by Hermann Goering?
KESSELRING: I do not know.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You do not know that. Did you favor the police state?
KESSELRING: I considered it as abnonnal according to German conceptions that a state had been formed within a state thus keeping certain things away from public knowledge.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you ever do anything or can you point to anything that you did in public life to prevent that abnormal condition coming to Germany?
KESSELRING: I cannot remember anything, except that during conversations with my superiors I may have brought the point up for discussion. But I emphasize expressly that in general I confined myself to my own sphere and my own tasks.
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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Do you want this Tribunal to understand that you never knew that there was a campaign by this state to persecute the Jews in Germany? Is that the way you want your testimony to be understood?
KESSELRING: A persecution of the Jews as such was not known to me.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Is it not a fact that Jewish officers were excluded from your army and from your command?
KESSELRING: Jewish officers did not exist.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Is it not a fact that certain officers of your army, certain officers of the Luftwaffe, took steps to Aryanize themselves in order to escape the effect of Goering's decrees? Did you know about that?
KESSELRING: I heard rumors to that effect.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Any Aryanizing, where the father was suspected of Jewish ancestry, consisted in showing that the normal father was not the actual father, did it not?
KESSELRING: I admit that. Naturally there are other cases as well.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes. It might be that the mother was suspected of Jewish ancestry?
KESSELRING: That in certain exceptional cases certain facts were overlooked.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes. Did you know anything about the Jewish riots, anti-Jewish riots of November 9th and 10th in Germany in 1938?
KESSELRING: Are you talking about the "Mirror Action" (Spiegelsache)? I am not sure which day you are talking about.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I am talking about the riots in which synagogues were burned, which made Goering so very angry. Did you not hear about that in 1938?
KESSELRING: No, I did not hear anything about it.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Where were you in 1938?
KESSELRING: In 1938 I was in Dresden.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: In November?
KESSELRING: In November I was in Berlin as Chief of the Air Force.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: In Berlin. And you never heard about the anti-Jewish riots of the 9th and 10th of November 1938?
KESSELRING: I only heard about the so-called "Mirror or Glass Campaign (Spiegel- oder Glas-Campagne)."
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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: What was that? You have me down. I do not know anything by that name.
KESSELRING: That was the smashing of shop windows and more, which assumed rather large proportions in Berlin.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You did hear, then, about the anti-Jewish riots?
KESSELRING: About those, yes.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And did you hear that Hermann Goering issued a decree confiscating the insurance that was to make reparations to those Jews who owned shops? Did you hear about Goering's action in that respect?
KESSELRING: I did not quite understand. May I ask to have it repeated?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you hear about the decree passed by Hermann Goering a few days later, November 12th, to be exact, confiscating the insurance of the victims of those raids and fining the Jewish community a billion Reichsmark?
KESSELRING: It is possible that I heard about it at the time, but I now have no certain recollection.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But you did hear about it. You did not regard those things as persecution?
KESSELRING: Naturally I must regard this "Glass Campaign" as an excess against the Jews.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You have stated, as I understand you, based on your experience with Hitler, that it was permissible for officers to differ with him in opinion so long as they obeyed his orders. Is that what you want understood?
KESSELRING: I have to apologize, but I did not quite understand the last half of that sentence.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I have understood from your testimony this morning that you felt perfectly free to disagree with Hitler and to make suggestions to him and give him information, but that, after his mind was made up and an order issued, it had to be obeyed. That is to say...
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is to say, an officer was at all times at liberty to go to Hitler and give him technical information, such as the state of the preparedness of his branch of the service?
KESSELRING: Generally speaking, no. For that purpose the commanders-in-chief of the branches of the Armed Forces concerned were the only people admitted.
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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: So the only channel through which information as to the state of the Air Force would reach Hitler was through Hermann Goering, is that a fact?
KESSELRING: Hermann Goering and, from time to time, State Secretary Milch, deputy of the Reich Marshal.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: If Hitler was about to engage in a war for which the Luftwaffe was unprepared, based on your information of the situation, would it or would it not have been possible for the Luftwaffe officers to have advised Hitler of that fact?
KESSELRING: We had complete confidence in our Reich Marshal, and we knew that he was the only person who had a decisive influence upon Adolf Hitler. In that way we knew, since we also knew his peaceful attitude, that we were perfectly secure, and we relied on it.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: There came a time when you went into the East, did you not, as a commander? You went into Poland and you went into Soviet Russia, did you not?
KESSELRING: Poland and Russia, yes.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And was it not understood among the officers in those Polish and Russian campaigns that the Hague regulations would not be applied to Soviet Russia as to the treatment of prisoners of war?
KESSELRING: That was not known to me.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You have testified that the Luftwaffe was purely a weapon of defense, is that your testimony?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: What was the German strength at the beginning of the Polish campaign in various types of planes?
KESSELRING: As I was not a member of the central board I can give you only an approximation on my own responsibility, without guaranteeing the historical certainty of these figures. All told, I would say we must have had approximately three thousand aircraft. All in all, so far as I can remember now, there were between thirty and forty bomber groups, the same number of fighters, and there were ten groups of dive-bombers, fighters...
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Will you give me the number of each group?
KESSELRING: About thirty aircraft, which would drop to seven, six or five aircraft during the course of the day. To continue, there were ten to twelve groups of dive-bombers, including ground
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"strafers" and twin-engine fighters. Also included in that figure were reconnaissance planes and a certain number of naval aircraft.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And the proportion of bombers to fighters was approximately two to one, was it not?
KESSELRING: The proportion of bombers to fighters was about one to one or one point two, or one point three to one. I said thirty to forty and about thirty fighter groups. If I include the twin-engine fighters, then the figure would be about one to one.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is the way you make up the total of about three thousand units?
KESSELRING: The reason why I can give you that figure is because during these months of quiet reflection I made an estimate, without thereby revealing the historical truth.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, do you count as a weapon of defense the bomber, or do you treat that as an offensive weapon?
KESSELRING: I must speak of the bomber in the same way as the dive-bomber and the fighter, equally as a defensive and as an offensive weapon. I explained yesterday that no matter whether defensive or offensive warfare is concerned, the task of the air force must be carried out on the offensive and the targets are far and wide. I also explained that an air force which has only light aircraft is doomed to be destroyed, since it cannot attack the phases of the enemy's aircraft production, his air assembly areas, nor his movements in various sectors.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: In other words, the Luftwaffe was a defensive weapon if you were on the defensive, and an offensive weapon if you were on attack?
KESSELRING: I did not understand the last half of the sentence.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The Luftwaffe would serve as a defensive weapon if you were on the defensive, and as an offensive weapon if you were on attack, is that not true?
KESSELRING: One could put it like that. I would express it differently. As I said, the air force is essentially an offensive weapon, no matter whether it is used for defense or for attack.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think you have improved on my sentence. Now, in the Netherlands, in Poland ...
KESSELRING: May I just say something else on the subject?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes, yes.
KESSELRING: Namely, what I said yesterday at the very end, that the essential of an offensive air force is the long-distance four-engine heavy bombers, and Germany had none of these.
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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: How did it come that Germany had none of those?
KESSELRING: Firstly, because being actually in a period of danger, we were confining ourselves to the absolute essentials of a defensive air force only.
Secondly, we tried, in keeping with our characteristics, to achieve as much as possible by precision bombing, in other words, by divebombing, utilizing the minimum of war material, and I am here thinking of the Ju 88 as a typical example of that.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were examined by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, were you not, on the 28th of June 1945? Do you recall that?
KESSELRING: Yes, of course.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well, it is quite certain, is it not?
KESSELRING: I have often been interrogated.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, I ask you whether on the 28th of June 1945, you did not say to the officer examining you on behalf of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey this:
"Everything had been done to make the German Air Force from the point of view of airmanship, aircraft, flak, air corps, signals, and so forth, the most formidable in the world. This effort led to the fact that at the beginning of the war, or in 1940 at the latest, from a fighter viewpoint, from a divebomber viewpoint, from a combat viewpoint, we had particularly good aircraft, even if the standard was not uniform entirely."
Did you not state that?
KESSELRING: That is still my view today, that as far as material, pursuit planes, dive-bombers, and fighters were concerned, we did in fact have a certain advantage over the other powers.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, as to the failure to have the number of four-engine bombers; that was because of your peaceful intentions, was it, or was it because of mistake in judgment as to what the requirements of war would be?
KESSELRING: To that I must say the following: It would have been insanity on the part of the Air Force leaders to consider producing a complete air force within 3 to 4 years. It was in 1940, at the earliest, that the possibility existed of building up an effective air force which would comply with all requirements. For that reason, in my view, it was an amazing achievement of organization to have attained such effectiveness under the existing limitations.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I understood you to give as one of the indications of your unaggressive intentions the fact that you had
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not an adequate number of four-engine bombers at the outset of the war. Did I misunderstand you?
KESSELRING: That is an excerpt from the whole story. The strength of the Air Force was, particularly in comparison with the small states, to be regarded as sufficient; certainly not, however, in comparison with powerful opponents who were fully equipped in the MR.
I have an example in mind. In a heated discussion with the Reich Marshal, before the beginning of the Russian campaign, I asked for reinforcements for fighters and dive-bombers. For certain reasons that was refused. The certain reasons were, firstly, shortage of material, and secondly, which I could also gather from the conversation, that the Reich Marshal did not agree with this campaign.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you not testify to the Bomber Investigating Commission of the United States that you intended to build a long-range heavy bomber but -- and I quote your words:
"We had developed the He III and the Ju 88 and they were actually put into the fighting as long-range heavy bombers. The Ju 88 was then used in the French campaign and against England.
"Question: The Ju 88 is not really a long-range bomber?"
"It was considered a long-range bomber at that time, but unfortunately we had a low opinion of the four-engine aircraft, and an erroneous belief which proved to be a mistake in the course of later years."
Is that true?
KESSELRING: That was my opinion.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And the reason you did not build the four-engine aircraft was your low opinion of it?
KESSELRING: May I say the following: That was the conception of a service department; the decisions in all these questions were made in the highest service department.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The highest service department made a mistake about the utility of the four-engine bomber?
KESSELRING: Well, looking at the situation retrospectively, I must say that the absence of a four-engine bomber became extremely awkward.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And that the highest authority in aircraft production was Hermann Goering. He was the head of the whole plan of aircraft production, was he not?
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KESSELRING: Yes, that is correct but it did not exclude the fact that erroneous conceptions of certain measures for the conduct of war or organizational measures may exist temporarily.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were in the Polish campaign you have said?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Is it not a fact that the German Air Force made the decisive contribution to that campaign as regards the time taken to conquer Poland?
KESSELRING: From the point of view of the Air Force officers I must agree with that conception absolutely, but the army officers did not quite share it.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well, you are testifying now as to your opinion. And in that campaign you developed the technique of low level attacks by fighters, light bombers, and dive-bombers against marching columns, and the dive-bomber, the light bomber, and the fighters all contributed to the success of that movement.
KESSELRING: I must admit that. The foundations of the shortrange bombing technique were certainly laid during the Polish campaign.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I turn now to the French campaign. You were in the air in the French campaign, were you not?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And the Air Force contributed decisively to the success of that campaign, did it not?
KESSELRING: From the point of view of an Air Force officer, I must consider that view as correct.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And you testified, did you not, that Dunkirk would not have been such a catastrophe if the Luftwaffe had not been there? That is true, is it not?
KESSELRING: Dunkirk, did you say? I did not quite understand.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes, Dunkirk.
KESSELRING: Yes. In my opinion, that is certain, and it would have been even more so if bad weather had not considerably hindered our operations.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is, the catastrophe would have increased for the English except for bad weather. You had the air force to do a better job at Dunkirk than you did, from your point of view?
KESSELRING: We were grounded for about 2 days.
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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were one of the principal advocates of the plan to invade England, were you not?
KESSELRING: Personally I am of the opinion that, if the war against England was to be brought to a successful end, this end could only be achieved for certain by invasion.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And you had an adequate Air Force after having defeated Poland, defeated Holland, defeated Belgium, and defeated France, so that you advocated proceeding with an invasion of England, did you not?
KESSELRING: I must give an explanation on that point.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: First tell me if that is true.
THE PRESIDENT: Witness, will you please understand that you must answer the question first, and give an explanation afterwards. Every question, or nearly every question, admits of either an affirmative or negative answer, and you will kindly give that answer and make your explanation afterwards.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you not advocate the invasion of England, and was not the Air Force ready to invade England?
KESSELRING: Subject to certain conditions, considering the existing air situation at that time the Air Force was ready to fulfill that task.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And you recommended very strongly to the Reich Marshal that the invasion take place immediately after Dunkirk, did you not?
KESSELRING: Yes, and I still advocated that view later on too.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And the preparations of the Luftwaffe for this invasion were complete, and the invasion was called off only because the procurement of sea-going craft was not sufficient, is that not true?
KESSELRING: Yes. I have to supplement the previous statement by saying that, of course, a certain interval between the French campaign and the English campaign would have had to elapse in order to effect the material replenishment of the air force.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, you also told the Strategic Bombing Survey that Hitler had ordered not only the bombing of military targets, including industrial production, but also the bombing of political targets. Is that true?
KESSELRING: After a certain date, yes.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is, to paralyze the government of the enemy. That is what you meant by a political target, did you not?
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KESSELRING: That is not what I mean by political targets. I answered the question differently; I understood it differently, namely, that this order became effective at a later date.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You attended the speech made by Hitler in August of 1939?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: At that time you were informed that the attack on Poland would commence immediately or very soon?
KESSELRING: During that conference, the final decision to commence the Polish campaign had not yet been reached. Negotiations were still in progress and we were all still hoping that they would bring favorable results.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were ordered on the 15th of August to get the Luftwaffe in readiness for an attack on Poland?
KESSELRING: This order as such is not known to me in detail, but I must admit that for months before we had made air preparations and erected bases in a general defensive direction, always thinking of a defensive situation.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You expected Poland to attack Germany in the air? Is that your point?
KESSELRING: At any rate, we took this possibility into collsideration on our side. The whole political situation was too unknown for us to be able to form a pertinent, incontestable judgment on it.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You have said that you never held conferences with Party leaders or talked politics or had any contacts with politicians, in substance, have you not?
KESSELRING: Essentially, yes.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Was not your immediate superior the Number 2 politician of Germany? Did you not know that?
KESSELRING: I did, but I must emphasize that the conversations which I had with the Reich Marshal were 99 percent concerned with military and organizational problems.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But you knew that he, at all times, was one of the leading men in Nazi politics?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified that you knew of the order to shoot Soviet Commissars?
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And that you did not approve it and did not carry it out.
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KESSELRING: I did not answer to that effect yesterday.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: What did you answer?
KESSELRING: I answered as follows: That the Air Force, which was not fighting on the ground, was not concerned with this problem, and that an official notification of that order is no longer in my recollection.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Who executed that order? Who was expected to execute it?
KESSELRING: I was in Russia only until November 1941 and I can give you no information on it.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you ever hear of the SS?
KESSELRING: Yes, of course.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And is it not a fact that the execution of that order was committed to the SS?
KESSELRING: I knew nothing about that.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: What did you think the SS existed for?
KESSELRING: In my opinion, the SS, as far as it was used in military operations, was a special section of the Army, indeed a sort of guard of the Army.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The SS was to guard the Army, or to guard whom?
KESSELRING: No, but the SS divisions were, purely from the point of view of men, numbers and material, well above the average Army division as far as equipment and readiness were concerned.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON:Who was commanding the SS?
KESSELRING: The SS was commanded by Himmler. As far as these divisions were used within the army, they were tactically. under the army commanders, commanders of the army groups, or the corps headquarters staffs to which they were attached.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: So far as they had special missions, they were under the command of Himmler, is that right?
KESSELRING: Yes, certainly; a very clear distinction.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified yesterday that you did not consider Hitler's Commando Order binding on you, and that you did not carry out that order, is that right?
KESSELRING: In the Mediterranean theater, yes.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Was that because the order left discretion in your hands, or because you just took discretion into your hands?
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KESSELRING: I made those reservations myself, firstly for ideological considerations, and secondly because in the Mediterranean I had, as I said yesterday, a twofold command, and the German orders could not be included in the general administration without modification.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well then, the extent to which an order of that kind was carried out depended somewhat on the character and courage of the officer who received it, did it not?
KESSELRING: I would like to express it somewhat differently. These orders could be interpreted in different ways -- that Commando Order, for instance -- insofar as it was certainly quite possible for the Commander-in-Chief to consider an operation either as a special task or as a tactical measure which was militarily justified.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were in command of the forces in Italy at this time, were you not, at the time of the Commando Order?
KESSELRING: With a difference. I did not have full powers until September 1943.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I will ask to have you shown Document Number 498-PS in evidence as Exhibit Number USA-501.
I call your attention to Paragraph Number 6 of that order which reads as follows:
"I will hold responsible, under military law, for failing to carry out this order, all commanders and officers who either have neglected their duty of instructing the troops about this order, or acted against this order where it was to be executed."
You see that paragraph in the order?
KESSELRING: Yes, I have just read it.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, did you ever report that you were not carrying out this order or did you deceive your superior officers as to whether it was being carried out?
KESSELRING: In one special case that question was treated very decisively at headquarters. This concerned the Commando action "Pescara" where Adolf Hitler ordered the shooting of certain people in spite of the fact that we, my troops and I, wanted to spare them. I think particularly that the influence of Jodl here, as an intermediary, was decisive; namely, that this subject was forgotten and that consequently these people were kept alive, in hospitals and prisoner-of-war camps.
But I should not like to call it deception, the word you used just now, for I wish to emphasize that, in my military sector, I considered actions of this kind as guiding orders, and this Commando Order certainly allowed for several interpretations.
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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: In other words, the extent to which one of these orders was carried out depended on the commanders in charge, is that right, that Hitler could not depend on it that an order as emphatic as this would be carried out by his commanders? Was that the state of the German Army?
KESSELRING: No, not that, but the situation can be explained as follows: If, on the part of an army, such an operation is reported to a superior as a Commando operation in the sense of that order, then the necessary measures would have to be carried out. That depended, however, on the way of reporting by the units concerned, and I already explained in detail yesterday that a unified conception had gradually set in, that men in uniform, who carried out a tactical move, were not Commandos within the meaning of this order.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified today, and another witness has testified here, that if an order of Adolf Hitler was resisted, it meant death. You are also testifying that an absolute order to execute Commandos, under threat of punishment if you failed, left you discretion to do it or not, and I want you once and for all to tell the Tribunal which is the fact, and then we will leave that subject.
KESSELRING: I must repeat what I said before, namely, that the Italian theater of war was not to be compared with the other theaters of war. Through the co-operation of Hitler and Mussolini there was always a very obliging attitude, therefore, these orders made by OKW could not easily be applied to the Italian theater of war.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: They were applied everywhere, so far as you know, except in the Italian theater, then?
KESSELRING: That I cannot say. I have repeatedly explained that I confined myself exclusively to my own sphere of operations, which was considerable.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified, as I understand you, that you punished looting on the part of your soldiers in Italy.
KESSELRING: As soon as I heard of these instances, I punished them, and I most strictly ordered the Army commanders and Air Force commanders to do the same.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, the punishment was very mild that you ever inflicted for any looting, was it not?
KESSELRING: I even went so far as to have culprits shot on the spot, and in that manner I succeeded in remedying the disorder which had arisen.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: So a German general, dealing with a German soldier, considers shooting the proper penalty for looting?
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KESSELRING: These far-reaching conclusions are something I cannot admit. On that subject I wish to make the following remarks: If an army -- as was the case with the 14th Army at the time -- fell into a certain disorder, the most severe measures were justified in the interests of the reputation of that army, and in the interests of the population, in order to bring about orderly conditions among the civilian population. I had heated discussion at headquarters on that particular subject.
Apart from that, I was of the opinion that all penalties eventually became useless, and therefore, for some time I considered penalties purely as an educational means and not really as punishment. Consequently for some time, penalties were rather mild.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified that you took vigorous steps to protect the art treasures of Italy.
KESSELRING: Insofar as I was informed of art treasures, yes.
MR.JUSTICEJACKSON: What steps did you take, and against whoin did you take them?
KESSELRING: Primarily they were preventive measures: First, by excluding places of art and culture from the field of battle; secondly, by having these places cleared if they were liable to air raids by the enemy; and thirdly, by co-operating with General Wolff and having these cultural and art treasures removed to secure places. I make mention of the art treasures of Cassino and Florence.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you know that any art treasure was removed from Mount Cassino, for instance, and taken to Berlin?
KESSELRING: Much later, at Mondorf, I heard about that. At the time all I could recollect was that they were handed over to the Vatican in Rome.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Oh. Did you know that art treasures were taken and delivered to Goering from Mount Cassino? Did you ever hear that?
KESSELRING: I once heard something about some statue of a saint, but I cannot really give you any more details.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And if Goering received such a thing from Mount Cassino, was it a violation of your orders?
KESSELRING: The Hermann Goering Division was stationed in that sector. It was commanded by the former adjutant of Hermann Goering, and it is clear that there was a certain connection here, but to what extent I cannot tell you.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I have a few more questions concerning your interrogations.
THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better break off for 10 minutes.
[A recess was taken.]
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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think, Your Honors, that we will save some duplication -- perhaps save time -- if I now yield to Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, who is prepared on some of the subjects I was about to take up. I think he is in a better position to take up the examination.
THE PRESIDENT: Whatever you think, Mr. Justice Jackson.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE (Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the United Kingdom): Witness, you have been told why Dr. Stahmer wanted you to give evidence? Have you been told by Dr. Stahmer what to do to give evidence?
KESSELRING: The individual points were communicated to me, without all questions being directly defined.
SIR DAVID MAXWELTFYFE: I want to read you one sentence, so that you will have it in mind, of Dr. Stahmer's statement:
"When Rotterdam became a battle zone in May 1940, it became a military necessity to employ bombers, as the encircled fighting parachute troops, who had no support from the artillery, had urgently asked for help from bombers."
Do you remember the incident? I wanted you to have it in your mind.
KESSELRING: Yes, certainly.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember being asked about this incident in the interrogation on the 28th of June, by the United States bombing survey? Remember?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you say there at the question, "What about Rotterdam?"
"Answer: 'First, Rotterdam had been defended in the parts which were later on attacked. Secondly, in this case one could notice that a firm attitude had to be taken. This one attack brought immediate peace to Holland. It was asked for by Model and was approved by the OKW. It was a very small part in the heart of Rotterdam.'"
Do you remember saying that?
KESSELRING: Approximately I did say that, yes, and I repeated those words yesterday.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want to deal first with the strategic aspects. I will come to the tactical aspects later. Your strategic purpose and real object was to take a firm attitude and secure immediate peace, was that not right?
KESSELRING: That far-reaching task had not been given to me, but, as I said yesterday, General Wenninger reported the result
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of the attack to me in such a way that close on the attack the total surrender of Holland followed.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But I want you to think of your own words. This was approved by the OKW; a firm attitude had to be taken. Was not your purpose in this attack to secure a strategic advantage by terrorization of the people of Rotterdam?
KESSELRING: That I can deny with the clearest conscience. Neither did I say, when I was at Mondorf, that I had to adopt a firm attitude. I merely said that the support which was demanded by Student would have to be carried out. We only had the one task, and that was to furnish artillery support for Student's troops.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What did you mean by saying that a firm attitude had to be taken, if you did not mean that the people of Holland had to be possibly terrorized into peace.
KESSELRING: May I repeat in that connection that the conception of the expression, "firm attitude," is not in keeping with my accustomed wording. I cannot admit that this word was in the minutes, and it was not read out to me, either.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What do you think you said instead of firm attitude, if you did not say it?
KESSELRING: I remarked that severe measures would bring quick results.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That is exactly what I am putting to you, Witness, "severe measures"...
KESSELRING: But only for the purpose of tactical results. May I once more emphasize that I am a soldier and not a politician, and did not act as a politician. At that time I was merely and solely complying with Student's requirements.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just before I deal with the tactical position -- which I do with great pleasure -- have you had to work with the Defendant Raeder? Have you had to work with the Defendant Raeder at all?
KESSELRING: Admiral Raeder? Only in a general way, insofar as naval questions were concerned.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I just want you to listen to the views which the Defendant Raeder has expressed and tell the Tribunal whether you agree with them. This is United Kingdom Exhibit Number GB-224, Document Number C-157, and here is the transcript in Page 2735 (Volume V, Page 274). Now, just listen carefully, if you will be so kind:
"It is desirable to base all military measures taken on existing international law. However, measures which are considered
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necessary from a military point of view, provided a decisive success can be expected from them, will have to be carried out, even if they are not covered by existing international law."
Do you agree with that?
KESSELRING: I cannot completely agree with that concept. As far as Rotterdam is concerned, conditions were exactly the opposite.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, just for the moment we will deal with the Defendant Raeder's words. Do you agree with them?
DR. LATERNSER: I have an objection. I object to the earlier and to this present question put to the witness, because they are irrelevant, and secondly because they do not refer to facts but opinions. The witness is here to testify to facts.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-YYFE: My Lord, the witness is here, as I pointed out carefully, to deal with what is military necessity.
THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, the Tribunal thinks that the question in the form in which you put it may be objectionable, by the introduction of the views of the Defendant Raeder.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Of course, I bow to the Tribunal, but this witness is called to say that the explanation for this is military necessity. I was asking whether he did not agree with the views of one of his colleagues on this point, what is military necessity. If the Tribunal has any doubt, I would rather pass it. But the question of military necessity is one which the Tribunal will have to consider in a number of fields, and I respectfully do not abandon that point, which will run through the questions I have to ask on other matters.
[Turning to the witness.] Now, I will come to the tactical position at Rotterdam: Will you just tell the Tribunal who were the officers involved? There was a Lieutenant General Schmidt and with him was Major General Student, who were in charge of the troops that were attacking Rotterdam. Do you remember that?
KESSELRING: Only General Student. General Schmidt is unknown to me.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, the evidence that is given in this case is that the negotiations, the terms of capitulation, were actually written out by Lieutenant General Schmidt in a creamery near Rotterdam. I suppose he would be General Student's superior officer, would he not?
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KESSELRING: General Student was the senior German officer in the Rotterdam sector and the responsible commander. General Schmidt is unknown to me.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-YYFE: So that General Schmidt would be junior to General Student, would he?
KESSELRING: He may have been called in for the special purpose, but I do not know of him.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you to have the times in mind: Do you know what time in the day the bombing of Rotterdam started?
KESSELRING: As far as I know, in the early afternoon, about 1400 hours, I believe.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I was going to put to you 1330.
KESSELRING: Yes, that is quite possible.
SIR DAVID MAXVTELIYYFE: Do you know that negotiations for a capitulation had been in progress since 1030 in the morning?
KESSELRING: No; as I said yesterday, I have no knowledge of these facts.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And did you know that at 1215 a Dutch officer, Captain Backer, went to the German lines and saw General Schmidt and General Student, and that General Schmidt wrote out the suggested terms of capitulation at 1235?
KESSELRING: No, that is unknown to me.
SIR DAVID MAXWELIYYFE: That had never been told to you?
KESSELRING: It was not communicated to me. At least, I cannot remember it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, you see, Witness, it is 35 minutes before the bombing began and ...
KESSELRING: The important factor would have been for Student to call off the attack as such, but that did not happen. The cancellation never reached me, and did not reach my unit either.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I just want you to have the facts in mind, and then I will ask you some questions. The terms that were discussed at 1235 were to expire; the answer was called for at 1620. After Captain Backer left with the terms, at 1322 and 1325 two red flares were put up by the German ground troops under General Student. Did you hear of that?
KESSELRING: I did not hear of that either. Moreover, two red flares would naturally not have sufficed for the purpose.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: No, but in addition to that your ground troops were in excellent wireless communication with your planes, were they not? Will you answer the question?
KESSELRING: I already said yesterday...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Will you please answer the question?
KESSELRING: Yes, and no. So far as I know, there was no immediate communication between the ground station and the aircraft, but, as I said yesterday, from the tactical force, through the ground station, to the aircraft formatiofi.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If it had been wanted to pass the communication to the aircraft and stop the bombing, it could quite easily have been done by wireless, apart from putting up these two red flares?
KESSELRING: In my opinion, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, what I am suggesting is, you see, that everyone saw these bombers coming over. You know that. Student saw the bombers coming over. You know that do you not?
SIR DAVID MkXVTELL-FYFE: If that attack had any tactical significance about helping your troops, it could have been called off, could it not?
KESSELRING: I did not understand the final sentence.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If the object of this attack was merely tactical, to help in the attack on Rotterdam, it could easily have been called off by a wireless message from General Student to the planes, could it not?
KESSELRING: Yes, if the tactical situation had been communicated, or if the situation had been reported to the bombing units immediately, then there could have been no doubt.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But if in honest negotiations, Witness, terms of surrender have been given and are to expire 3 hours later, it is only demanded of a soldier that he win can off the attack, is it not?
KESSELRING: If no other conditions have been made, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But if he can stop the attack, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to do so. I want to make my suggestion quite clear -- that this tactical matter had nothing to do with the attack on Rotterdam; that the purpose of the attack on Rotterdam was, in your own words, to show a firm attitude and to terrorize the Dutch into surrender.
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KESSELRING: May I repeat again, that I have said explicitly that this attack was only serving the tactical requirements, and that I disassociate myself completely from these political considerations.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, you know that General Student apologized afterwards for the attack; you know that? Apologized to the Dutch commander for the attack?
KESSELRING: I do not know it and, as I explained yesterday, I saw General Student when he was seriously injured, and I could not even talk to him.
SIR DAVID MAXWELI-FYFE: I am not going to take more time. I have put my point, I hope, quite clearly. I want to ask you on one other point on which you spoke yesterday in regard to bombing. You said that the attack on Warsaw on 1 September 1939 was made because you considered Warsaw a defended fortress with air defense. Is that fair?
KESSELRING: Yes, certainly.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, you know that at the same time -- at 5 o'clock on the morning of Friday, 1 September - the German Air Force attacked Augostow, Nowy Dwor, Ostrow Mazowiecki, Tczew, Puck, Zambrow, Radomsko, Toron, Kutno, Krakow, Grodno, Trzebinia, and Gdynia, which is in rather a different position. Just answer my question. The German Air Force attacked these towns?
KESSELRING: With my comrades -- yes. Not the towns, I repeat, not the towns.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, all this attack was made at 5 o'clock on the morning of 1 September, was it not?
KESSELRING: The attack started in the morning, but not, as you put it, on the towns but on military targets; airfields, staff headquarters, and traffic centers were attacked. As I have already explained, very detailed instructions were published by the OKW that only these military targets should be bombed.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You are suggesting that, all these towns I had read out were military targets?
KESSELRING: Insofar as they were in my sector, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You had not had time for a single reconnaisance plane to fly over Poland before that attack was made, had you?
KESSELRING: That is correct. On the other hand, agents and others furnished sufficient intelligence on the situation and, apart from that, this whole plan was absolutely controlled by operational considerations of air warfare.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Of course, the whole plan had been worked out in April of 1939 under the Fall Weiss, had it not?
KESSELRING: At that time I did not even know that I was going to be concerned in it, or that war would be declared.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you not know, Witness, after you were appointed, that a Fall Weiss had been worked out in April 1939? You were never told that?
KESSELRING: That was not said, but, on the other hand, may I say, as a soldier, that a general plan made in April would undergo many alterations by September, and decisive alterations might still have to be made even at the very last minute.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just one other point I want you to have in mind. Do you remember that the German radio broadcast the last note to Poland at 9 o'clock the night before, on 31 August? Do you remember that?
KESSELRING: I believe I do.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That was 8 hours before your attack, and you know, do you not, that the Defendant Goering had been at his secret headquarters for a week before that, considering this matter?
KESSELRING: That I can well imagine, if on the ...
SIR DAVTID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, what I am putting to you is that this general attack on Polish towns was again a well-planned scheme to try and break down natural resistance for your attack?
KESSELRING: May I say the following on that subject? If my statements as Field Marshal and witness under oath are considered as little as you are considering them, Mr. Prosecutor, then further statements of mine do not serve any purpose. I have emphasized that it was not an attack against towns, but an attack on military targets, and you must finally believe me when I say that as a soldier.
SIR DAVID MAXVTELIFYFE: The Tribunal will decide as to the value of the evidence. I am not going to discuss it. I am just going to ask you about one or two other matters, in order to get your view on it, what you consider to be of military necessity. You remember the orders with regard to partisans in Italy during the time of your command? The orders with regard to partisans?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And I want to put it perfectly correctly, so tell me if I am wrong, but I understand this to be the position. The Defendant Keitel issued a general order as to partisans on 16 December 1942. A copy was found in your headquarters or your ex-headquarters, and your recollection is that it came to your
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attention later on, but you are not quite sure of the date. Is that right? You are not quite sure of the time?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I would like you to try, because you have had time to consider it; do you think that Keitel's order of December 1942 had come to your attention before you issued your own order of 17 June 1944? Perhaps you would like to see your own order, would you?
KESSELRING: It was read out to me; but in November, then again in December, and subsequently in January, I requested that I should be heard once more on these questions and these orders, as I had certain doubts about the issuing of these orders, the distribution, the persons to whom they were sent, and the date.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I will pass you the orders, Witness, because you ought to see them and recall them to your recollection. I do not think they have been put in before. Let us take first Defendant Keitel's order of 16 December 1942.
[The document was submitted to the witness.]
I hope I have passed you the right document. Does it read -- I will read it very slowly.
"The Fuehrer has therefore ordered that:
"1. The enemy employs, in partisan warfare, communist-trained fanatics who do not hesitate to commit any atrocity. It is more than ever a question of life and death. This fight has nothing to do with soldierly gallantry or principles of the Geneva Convention. If the fight against the partisans in the East, as well as in the Balkans, is not waged with the most brutal means, we will shortly reach the point where the available forces are insufficient to control this area.
"It is therefore not only justified, but it is the duty of the troops to use all means without restriction, even against women and children, as long as it insures success. Any consideration for the partisans is a crime against the German people."
Do you remember that order?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And you in turn issued an order on the 17th of June 1944 when you were commanding in Italy? Do you remember that? I will show you in one moment, if I can get the German copy out of the file. I will just read a short passage again so that the Tribunal will have it in mind; but Witness, please refer to any other passage because I want to give a fair effect of the order:
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"1. The partisan situation in the Italian theater, particularly central Italy, has recently deteriorated to such an extent that it constitutes a serious danger to the fighting troops and their supply lines, as well as to the war industry and economic potential. The fight against the partisans must be carried on with all means at our disposal and with the utmost severity. I will protect any commander who exceeds our usual restraint in the choice of severity of the methods he adopts against partisans. In this connection the old principle holds good, that a mistake in the choice of methods in executing one's orders is better than failure or neglect to act."
Do you remember that, Witness?
KESSELRING: Yes, I remember that order.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And you remember 3 days later, so that there will be no mistake as to what you meant, you issued this further one, another top-secret order. Reading the third line after saying, "The announcement does not represent an empty threat," you say:
"It is the duty of all troops and police in my command to adopt the severest measures. Every act of violence committed by partisans must be punished immediately. Reports submitted must also give details of countermeasures taken. Wherever there is evidence of considerable numbers of partisan groups, a proportion of the male population of the area will be arrested; and in the event of an act of violence being committed, these men will be shot."
Now, I just want only to take two examples, Witness, of the way that that was carried out. You remember when one of your officers, Colonel Von Gablenz, was captured by partisans; do you remember?
KESSELRING: General Von Gablenz?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think he was a colonel at this stage, it was the 26th of June, just after your order. You remember Colonel Von Gablenz being captured, do you?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: He was a colonel of the lines of communication; not a very important officer, but still a colonel.
KESSELRING: Yes, I remember.
SIR DAVID MAXWELTFYFE: Now, just look at these two documents. Is this right? -- this is an extract from the daily situation report by the Commander-in-Chief of Southwest Italy for the 26th of June.
"Partisan situation. North of Arezzo, Colonel Von Gablenz, a member of the staff of the officer commanding lines of communication, area 10th Army, was captured by bandits. The
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entire male population of the villages on the stretch of road concerned was taken into custody."
It was further announced that all these hostages would be shot if the captured colonel were not set free within 48 hours. Remember that?
KESSELRING: Not in detail, but in general ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: No, no, but do you remember the incident?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Look at the next bit which is the 2-day situation report, the report for 2 days later, the 28th of June, the second paragraph: "As reprisal for the capture of Colonel Freiherr Von Gablenz, so far 560 persons, including 250 men, have been taken into custody."
Is that your conception of what is meant by "steps necessary to deal with partisan warfare" that 410 women and children should be taken into custody?
KESSELRING: That was not necessary, but in connection with this I may ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let us take one other example. You remember Civitella? You remember what was done with Civitella by your forces, do you not?
KESSELRING: At the moment, no.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, just let me remind you what was done at Civitella -- that was on the 18th of June, one day after your order.
"Two German soldiers were killed and a third wounded in a fight with partisans in the village of Civitella. Fearing reprisals, the inhabitants evacuated the village, but when the Germans discovered this, punitive action was postponed. On June 29" -- that, you will remember, Witness, was 9 days after your proclamation to reinforce your order -- "when the local inhabitants were returned and when feeling secure once more, the Germans carried out a well-organized reprisal, combing the neighborhood. Innocent inhabitants were often shot on sight. During that day 212 men, women, and children in the immediate district were killed. Some of the dead women were found completely naked. In the course of investigations, a nominal roll of the dead has been compiled and is complete with the exception of a few names whose bodies could not be identified. Ages of the dead ranged from 1 year to 84 years. Approximately one hundred houses were
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destroyed by fire. Some of the victims were burned alive in their homes."
That is the report of the United Nations War Crimes Commission on the incident. Now, Witness, do you really think that military necessity commands the killing of babies of 1 and people of 84?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, I just want to acquaint you with one subject which you have dealt with yourself, that is the position of the Hermann Goering Division. You mentioned one of the persons I have in mind, but let me just, in order to make it clear to the Tribunal, get clear who your officers were at that time.
Did General Vietinghoff -- sorry, I think it was Von Vietinghoff -- did he command the 10th Army?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: In 1944?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Was he directly under your orders?
KESSELRING: Yes, he was under my command.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then I take it he is a fairly senior and responsible general. I do not know his rank -- full general or ...
KESSELRING: Full general.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And under him was the 76th Corps, was it not, commanded by General Herr; is that correct?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And under General Herr was a Hermann Goering Division, commanded by General Schmalz, whom you mentioned this morning; is that right?
KESSELRING: General Von Schmalz commanded, but previously I mentioned another name.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think it was Schmalz at this time. Now, the Hermann Goering Division had been concerned in a number of three -- I call them incidents; I would not say -- what I mean by incidents is the sort of thing which I have been describing at Civitella. Let me remind you of one or two. Do you remember at Stia, on the 13th to the 18th of April, 137 civilians were killed, including 45 women and children; do you remember that incident? Civitella, that was on the 29th of June. And do you remember Buchini on the 7th and 9th of July; do you remember an incident at Buchini?
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KESSELRING: It is possible, but I would have to study the details first.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Perhaps you will remember this. I will put it to you generally, Witness, because it is a perfectly general course of conduct, and there were a number of these incidents in which the Hermann Goering Division was engaged. Do you remember that?
KESSELRING: There were many incidents like that on both sides, and I would first have to study the exact details of the question.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, this is what I really want you to apply your mind to. Is it correct that the Hermann Goering Division was only under General Herr and General Von Vietinghoff for tactical purposes, and reported each day to Berlin to Reich Marshal Goering as to what they were doing?
KESSELRING: The Hermann Goering Division was under the General Command and the Army for tactical purposes, but I must assume that, in these questions, subordination to the General Command and the Army actually did exist. Whether there were any matters operating outside that, I do not know.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I will put the words exactly, and you can see where I have the words from the way I put them:
"The 1st Airborne Division and the Hermann Goering Division came under the army commanders only as regards tactics; for all other questions, on the other hand, directly under the Reich Marshal, to whom they had to send daily reports. They were not permitted to receive orders from the army commanders concerning criminal proceedings, nor to report the results of such proceedings. Thus they carried on the war against guerrillas according to principles which to some extent deviated from those of the Army."
Is that a correct statement?
KESSELRING: That conception is correct, but the question is, perhaps, that the word "tactics" can, of course, be understood in a somewhat wider or narrower sense.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: The word what?
KESSELRING: Tactics. That this tactical subordination can be understood either in a wider or a narrower sense.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Witness, that is why I read the whole thing to you, because it is quite clear what the person's statement I am reading means there, is it not? He says that they were not permitted to receive orders from the army commanders on criminal proceedings or to report the results, and that they carried
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on the war against guerrillas according to principles which deviated from those of General Von Vietinghoff, did they not?
KESSELRING: This is the first time that I have heard of this, but if another officer has said so then I must assume it is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, are you sure it is the first time that you have heard about it? It is very difficult to remember every incident. Please, do not think that I want to be offensive, but I want you to try to remember. Did not General Herr make numerous complaints to you about this anomalous position with regard to the Hermann Goering Division, and did you never give any official reply to General Herr's reports?
KESSELRING: Numerous reports certainly did not arrive from General Herr. There may have been verbal consultations ...
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: In your command post?
KESSELRING: Yes. And may I add once more that such definitions of attitude were definitely in existence within the army group. With regard to the case concerned, I must say that I do not know whether this comes under the heading "tactics" or belongs to another function.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I am not really putting the point to you quite clearly. What I am suggesting is this: If you disagree with "numerous," will you accept "some," that on some occasions General Herr reported to you that he was in difficulties through this anomalous position of the Hermann Goering Division?
KESSELRING: That I can assume.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Your Chief of Staff at this time was General Roettiger, was he not?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: From the 10th of June onwards, just over this time, did not General Roettiger also talk to you about the position of the Hermann Goering Division being under the special protection of Reich Marshal Goering in Berlin?
KESSELRING: Yes. We discussed that subject quite a lot.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, as far as the particular incident, in which the Hermann Goering Division was involved, is concerned they took their orders from the Defendant Goering, who is sitting at the dock, did they not, as to how they were to treat the partisans?
KESSELRING: I could not tell you that. Those channels bypassed me.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes; they bypassed you. They bypassed General Herr, they bypassed Vietinghoff, they bypassed you, and went straight to Berlin. That is right, is it not?
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KESSELRING: Yes, certainly. That was the special channel for the SS and for the Hermann Goering Division.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. You see, at the moment the Tribunal is dealing with the case of the Defendant Goering. That is why I ask you these questions.
Now, just one or two short points. You remember Dr. Laternser asking you one or two questions about the High Command and the General Staff.
Do you remember Dr. Laternser asking you some questions?
KESSELRING: Yes, I am aware of that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I wanted just to clear one part out of the way altogether. You must have realized, Witness, that the body that is mentioned in this case has nothing to do with the Staff Corps of the German Army. I think you made that clear yourself yesterday.
KESSELRING: With what did you say?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: With the staff corps. You had, both in the Army and the Air Force, a corps of officers who had gone through the Military Academy and were staff officers of all ranks, I suppose down to captain, had you not?
KESSELRING: The question is not quite clear to me.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am sorry. You had in both the Army and the Luftwaffe a staff corps of officers who had been to Military Academy and were thereafter staff officers. And they had, I think, the right of reporting directly to the Chief of Staff if they wanted to? Is that not so? Is that right or wrong?
KESSELRING: That is not correct, except, as I said yesterday, as far as education was concerned. As far as the general attitude was concerned, the General Chief of Staff had the right to influence General Staff officers directly; but the other way around, no.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, that corps went right down, I suppose, to captain or lieutenant, did it not?
KESSELRING: No, captain.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I thought that was it. May I tell you, we are not interested in that corps at all. The Prosecution are not interested in that corps at all.
Now, with regard to the persons who are named in the Indictment, you know there are nine commander-in-chief or staff positions named, and then the Oberbefehlshaber, who commanded in certain areas or commanded certain fleets of the Luftwaffe. You have looked at that, I suppose, have you?
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am trying to put it shortly, Witness, so that we would not take time. I just want you to consider this. Are not these people who are mentioned -- that is, the heads of the OKW, OKH, OKM, OKL, and their deputies and the Oberbefehlshaber -- the officers in the German Armed Forces who would have had most to do with the policy and planning of wars?
KESSELRING: The commanders-in-chief of the branches of the Armed Forces were of course the advisory organs of the Supreme Head of the State in all mifitary-political questions. The commanders-in-chief of Army Groups had no influence whatever.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I would like you to take the case of two examples. I think you were present at both of these. Before the attack on Poland there was a meeting on the 22d of August, which has been mentioned here before. Did that consist of these higher officers that I mentioned, the heads of the various branches, and also of the Oberbefehlshaber?
KESSELRING: It consisted of the commanding officers of the war in that theater.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. Well, at that time the sector which was going to be the subject of war was Poland. At that time the main purpose was considering the Polish campaign, was it not? The main purpose of that meeting, I suppose, was to consider the Polish campaign with the possibility of a campaign against the Western Powers if they came in?
KESSELRING: About that I can give you no information. Generally speaking we discussed only Polish questions.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, the Tribunal has heard about that meeting so often I am not going to ask about it. I am only getting from you the people who were there.
Now, let me remind you of another meeting. On the 9th of June 1941 there was a conference -- Barbarossa -- for the attack on the Soviet Union. Do you remember that? Berchtesgaden.
KESSELRING: Whether it was on the 9th of June, I do not know. But I did take part in one conference.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You were there, and again, before the Russian campaign, the people who were there were the holders of these supreme positions and the Oberbefehlshaber, were they not?
KESSELRING: That is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Including those that had territorial commands, like, for example, General Von Falkenhorst, who
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was the Army High Commander in Norway at that time? He was there?
KESSELRING: General Von Falkenhorst?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes.
KESSELRING: It is quite possible.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: General Stumpf of Air Fleet 5, and, if I may, I do not know what the ranks were so I just give the names. Rundstedt, Reichenau, Stulpnagel, Schubert, Kleist, and of course Bock, Kluge, Guderian, Halder, Kesselring?
KESSELRING: The latter were certainly there. As for Stumpf and Falkenhorst, I cannot say.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So that before a campaign it was customary for the holders of these high positions to meet, was it not -- to meet the Fuehrer?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, I just want you to help me on one other small point. Do you remember saying yesterday to Dr. Laternser that the members of this alleged group were far too concerned with high matters of strategy to have anything to do with Fifth Columnists? Do you remember saying that, words to that effect?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I do not know if you know, but outside Germany the name Quisling has become an ordinary word of use as an alternative to Fifth columnist. Did you know that? You talk about a Quisling meaning a Fifth Columnist. You have not heard that?
KESSELRING: No, I did not know that.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You know who Quisling was?
KESSELRING: Yes, indeed I do.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I would just like you to listen to this, because it concerns your service. The Defendant Rosenberg in January 1940 wrote to the Fuehrer as follows:
"Assuming that his" -- that is, Quisling -- "statements would be of special interest to the Marshal of the Reich, Goering, for aero-strategical reasons, Quisling was referred to State Secretary Korner by the Foreign Affairs Office."
Did he come to you at all for aero-strategical reasons?
KESSELRING: No, that is unknown to me.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, did you know that the Defendant Raeder introduced Quisling to Hitler in December 1939? Did you know that?
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KESSELRING: No, that is unknown to me.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You agree that the head of the German Air Force and the head of the German Navy are important members of this group of commanders-in-chief, are they not?
KESSELRING: Supreme commanders, yes.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If they were dealing with the typical columnist, perhaps members of the group had more to do with Fifth Columnists than you knew.
KESSELRING: Yesterday I merely spoke from the point of view of the supreme commanders on the front and our tasks were in a different sphere.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, I think I have finished, but perhaps your Lordship would allow me just over the adjournment to see if there is any small point.
My Lord, the other thing is this. I think we ought to put in these documents to which I have referred, because the Defense may want to deal with them later on.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, if they have not already been put in.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think some of the orders have not been put in. I have read part of them into the record, and I will put them in.
THE PRESIDENT: They must be put in and marked then.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1400 hours.]
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Will you direct your attention to the text after the bomb plot in Rome on 23 March 1944. Do you remember what I have in mind -- the bomb plot in Rome? Remember? At that time your Chief of Staff was General Westphal, and he reported the plot directly to General Buettler? Perhaps you will help me as to the pronunciation?
SIR DAVID MAXWELI-FYFE: General what?
KESSELRING: General Winter.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Didn't he report to a General Buettler, spelled B-u-e-t-t-l-e-r?
KESSELRING: Von Buttlar.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: General Von Buttlar?
KESSELRING: That was his predecessor.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: General Von Buttlar informed your Chief of Staff that he would have to report the matter to the Fuehrer, is that right?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And he got in touch with the Defendant Jodl, and the Defendant Jodl and the Defendant Keitel reported the matter to the Fuehrer?
KESSELRING: That is probably correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: The Fuehrer gave an order that either 20 or 10 -- you aren't quite sure which, but you rather think 20 -- Italians should be killed?
KESSELRING: I believe that that is a report from Westphal, which I must assume is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Can you remember, Witness, whether it was 20 or 10 now?
KESSELRING: I assume 10, 1 do not know the exact number.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You do not know the exact number?
KESSELRING: I assume 10.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: We will take it as 10 for the moment.
The competent authority for Rome was General Von Mackensen, was it not?
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KESSELRING: General Mackensen was Commander-in-Chief of the 14th Army, and the commander of Rome was subordinate to him.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And the person, to use your words, who advised him on this matter was a man called Kappler, wasn't he?
KESSELRING: Kappler, of the Security Service.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What was he? An ObergruppenFuehrer or something like that?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You remember, after some comments in the Osservatore Romano you had an inquiry directed into the incident by your intelligence officer whose name was Zolling, don't you?
KESSELRING: Yes, that is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And you also got a report from Kappler himself, did you not?
KESSELRING: Kappler merely had a brief report relayed to me by telephone to the effect that he had a corresponding number of condemned men available.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Didn't Kappler tell you that he had executed 382 people?
KESSELRING: The execution lay in the hands of the 14th Army and I finally received merely the news of its being carried out without any further explanation, and had no direct conversation with Kappler.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Are you sure of that?
KESSELRING: At the end -- I expressly emphasize this once more -- I conversed with him briefly by telephone, after I had arrived at my command post and this report had been given me, as I said earlier. Otherwise I can recall no further direct communication. I do remember that perhaps 8 or 10 days later I met him and I told him that I was to a certain extent grateful to him that this very distasteful matter had been settled in a way which was legally and morally above reproach.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let us see what you had to be grateful for. You were interrogated about this on the 8th of January. Do you remember being asked this question? "Then Zolling didn't tell you that all this number that was executed had previously been convicted of some crime punishable by death?" And you answered, "Yes, I said that already. Yes, he did that.. Even Kappler had told me that."
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KESSELRING: Yes, that is correct.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So the explanation which you say was given to you was that they took a number of people, 382 1 suggest, who had been guilty of other crimes and executed them as a reprisal for the bomb plot, isnt that right?
KESSELRING: That is correct, on the assumption that these people had been sentenced to death.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: This has already been put to you. This is Kappler's account -- that of the 382, 176 had committed acts punishable by death; 22 were people whose cases were marked "closed"; 17 had been sentenced to terms of labor; 4 had actually been condemned to death; 4 had been arrested near the scene of the crime. That made 223.
Didn't Kappler say to you, "Later the number of victims rose to 325 and I decided to add 57 Jews?" Didn't Kappler give you these figures?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But you agree with this, that a large number of persons were executed in consequence of the order to kill 10 Italians, or maybe 20 Italians, for one German who had been killed?
KESSELRING: I admit that, on the assumption, as I have already stated, that these were people who had already been convicted.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But it didn't make any difference to you whether they had been convicted for the bomb outrage or for any other offense?
KESSELRING: The situation was as follows: The Garigliano battle had begun to rage on the Southern Front. At that time a bomb attack was made on a police company by people of Rome, who had been treated with unparalleled mildness until then. The excitement on the German side was such that I, as well as the officers under my command, including Embassy Counsellor Moellhausen, had to do anything we could to calm the agitation. Therefore on the one side, and on the other, something had to be done -- something which seemed to me the most expedient measure for preventing such incidents, namely a public humiliation, a notification that nothing could be undertaken against the German Army without consequences being faced. For me that was the essential point; whether X or Y was involved in this outrage was for me a question of small importance. This alone was of primary importance -- that public opinion should be quieted in the shortest possible time, on the Roman as well as on the German side.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Your prior point was to take a third attitude, or some people might say, "terrorize" the population, so that they would not repeat or do anything against the German Army.
KESSELRING: I do not know -- this expression comes from the Rotterdam examination. As far as I know and believe I did not use this expression. I have to repeat that I stood, if I may say so, on ideally friendly terms with the Italians - for this very reason I was called to Italy -- and that I had the most compelling reason to win friendship and not to sow enmity; and I intervened there, and certainly in a decisive way, only because it was a matter of cutting off the root of this evil growth within a short time.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I asked you various questions about your acts of friendship to the Italians this morning and I am not going back to them. I only want to ask you one other point about which perhaps you will be able to relieve my mind. On the 2d of November 1943 were you the commanding general in Italy, that is, after you became ...
KESSELRING: May I add something to the first point?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You must come on to this point, and I want you to tell whether you were the commanding general in Italy on the 2d of November 1943? Were you?
KESSELRING: Since November, since 2 November 1943?
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember sending a telegram to the OKW that three British Commandos taken prisoner near Pescara were to be given special treatment? That means murder, "special treatment"; it means that they were killed by the SS.
KESSELRING: No. I beg your pardon.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What do you mean by "special treatment"?
KESSELRING: That these people at Pescara, as I have already mentioned once today, were not shot, but rather the wounded were taken to a hospital and, as far as I recall, the unwounded to a prisoner-of-war camp.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: There were nine others who were taken to a hospital and three, according to your telegram got "special treatment" and nine others were taken to hospitals. I was going to ask you about those taken to hospitals. What did you do with people who came under the Commando Order who were taken to hospitals?
KESSELRING: As I have already stated before, they were treated according to the principles of the Hague Convention as generally practiced.
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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I am not going to argue with you whether the Commando Order was in accordance with the Hague Convention. We know what the Commando Order was, that people taken in Commandos were to be shot. What I am asking you is, supposing some Commandos had the misfortune to be wounded, what happened to them?
KESSELRING: According to the text of this order they would have to be shot. I stated b,efore that this order in this case -- I assume with the collaboration of General Jodl -- was carried out in the normal fashion.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: There is heard evidence in this Court that in Vilna it was the practice of the SS to kill offhand newborn Jewish babies in hospitals. Can you give me your assurance that Commando troops who were wounded and taken to hospitals were not killed offhand.
KESSELRING: I assure you that I was not informed of any execution of this sort and would also not have tolerated it.
SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That is all.
THE PRESIDENT: Does the Prosecution wish any further crossexamination? Then, Dr. Stahmer, do you wish to re-examine?
DR. STAHMER: The British Prosecution has just submitted new facts which were not known until now, especially about the shooting of hostages, which was carried out in Italy by the Hermann Goering Division in connection with the combating of partisans and for which the Defendant Goering apparently is to be made responsible. In this connection new documents were submitted. At the moment I am not in the position to answer these facts and these serious charges, and to put pertinent questions to the witness.
After a careful examination of the material, I shall submit the appropriate motions and I ask for the opportunity to make a statement as to whether I need further witnesses and have to recall the witness Kesselring.
I shall of course limit myself to submitting only absolutely necessary requests for evidence within the framework of the accusations just made, in order to prevent an unnecessary prolongation of the trial.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal thinks that you must re-examine the witness now and that if you wish to make an application hereafter to recall the witness you will have to show very strong grounds for doing it. You may make written application to recall the witness at a later stage, but I would point out to you that the cross-examination of this witness has not been relevant solely to the case of the Defendant Goering. He is a member of the
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General Staff and, as it was pointed out to him at the opening of one part of the cross-examination, he is one of the accused persons as such, and the evidence, therefore, may be relevant to Goering, or it may have been relevant to the General Staff. Is that clear to you?
DR. STAHMER: Yes, I quite follow; but I can naturally put questions to a witness only if I am in possession of the facts. I am not in such a position today because documents were referred to which are completely unknown to me, and, as far as I know, the Prosecution has the intention of making this material available to us.
THE PRESIDENT: Documents were put to the witness and, as I say, the Tribunal will consider any application which you make hereafter to have this witness recalled, but you may continue now with your re-examination and finish with the witness.
DR. STAHMER: At present I have no further questions to address to the witness.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Then the witness can retire.
[The witness left the stand.]
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, this morning I have noted that the witness has been called a defendant twice, once by a member of the Prosecution and now in your statement. First of all, the witness has appeared here as a witness, and moreover not the individual member of the group but rather the group itself is indicted, so that it cannot be correct to call the witness a defendant.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, possibly it was inaccurate to call him an accused person, but he is a member of the General Staff. I rather think that Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe made it clear that he meant only a member of the group which the indictment asked the Tribunal to declare criminal. That is all that is meant, and I was only pointing out to Dr. Stahmer that the questions which have been asked were not necessarily relevant to the Defendant Goering, but might be relevant and relevant alone to the case of the General Staff.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I fully understand the position of the individual generals. I just wished to prevent the generals being called defendants now, which they are not. For that I wanted to have evidence. .
THE PRESIDENT: Very well.
DR. STAHMER: If the High Tribunal agree, I wish to call the former Reich Marshal, Defendant Hermann Goering, to the witness stand.
[The Defendant Goering took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you give your name please?
HERMANN WILHELM Goering (Defendant): Hermann Goering.
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THE PRESIDENT: 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 in German.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.
DR. STAHMER: When were you born and where?
Goering: I was born on 12 January 1893 in Rosenheim, Bavaria.
DR. STAHMER: Give the Tribunal a short account of your life up to the outbreak of the first World War, but briefly, please.
Goering: Normal education, first a tutor at home; then cadet corps, then an active officer. A few points which are significant with relation to my later development: The position of my father as first Governor of Southwest Africa; his connections at that time, especially with two British statesmen, Cecil Rhodes and the elder Chamberlain. Then the strong attachment of my father to Bismarck; the experiences of my youth, half of which was spent in Austria to which I already felt a close attachment, as to a kindred people. At the beginning of the first World War I was a lieutenant in an infantry regiment.
DR. STAHMER: With what rank did you participate in the first World War?
Goering: As I just mentioned, at first as a lieutenant in an infantry regiment in the so-called border battles. From October 1914 on I was an aircraft observer. In June 1915 1 became a pilot, at first with a reconnaissance plane, then for a short time with a bomber and in the autumn of 1915 1 became a fighter pilot. I was seriously wounded in aerial combat. After recovery I became the leader of a fighter squadron, and after Richthofen was killed I became the commander of the then well-known "Richthofen Squadron."
DR. STAHMER: What war decorations did you receive?
Goering: First the Iron Cross Second Class, then Iron Cross First Class, then the Zahring Lion with Swords, the Karl Friedrich Order, the Hohenzollern with Swords Third Class, and finally the Order Pour le Merite, which was the highest decoration possible.
DR. STAHMER: Tell the Tribunal when and under what circumstances you came to know Hitler.
Goering: I should like to mention one basic fact in advance. After the collapse in the first World War I had to demobilize my squadron. I rejected the invitation to enter the Reichswehr because from the very beginning I was opposed in every way to the republic which had come to power through the revolution; I could not bring it into harmony with my convictions. Shortly afterwards I went
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abroad to find a position there. But after a few years I longed to get back to my own country. First, I spent quite some time at a hunting lodge in the mountains and studied there. In some way I wanted to participate in the fate of my country. Since I could not and would not do that as an officer for the reasons mentioned above, I had first of all to build up the necessary foundation, and I attended the University of Munich in order to study history and political science. I settled down in the neighborhood of Munich and bought a house there for my wife. Then one day, on a Sunday in November or October of 1922, the demand having been made again by the Entente for the extradition of our military leaders, at a protest demonstration in Munich -- I went to this protest demonstration as a spectator, without having any connection with it. Various speakers from parties and organizations spoke there. At the end Hitler, too, was called for. I had heard his name once before briefly and wanted to hear what he had to say. He declined to speak and it was pure coincidence that I stood nearby and heard the reasons for his refusal. He did not want to disturb the unanimity of the demonstration; he could not see himself speaking, as he put it, to these tame, bourgeois pirates. He considered it senseless to launch protests with no weight behind them. This made a deep impression on me; I was of the same opinion.
I inquired and found that on the following Monday evening I could hear Hitler speak, as he held a meeting every Monday evening. I went there, and there Hitler spoke in connection with that demonstration, about Versailles, the treaty of Versailles, and the repudiation of Versailles.
He said that such empty protests as that of Sunday had no sense at all -- one would just pass on from it to the agenda -- that a protest is successful only if backed by power to give it weight. Until Germany had become strong, this kind of thing was of no purpose.
This conviction was spoken word for word as if from my own soul. On one of the following days I went to the office of the NSDAP. At that time I knew nothing of the program of the NSDAP, and nothing further than that it was a small party. I had also investigated other parties. When the National Assembly was elected, with a then completely unpolitical attitude I had even voted democratic. Then, when I saw whom I had elected, I avoided politics for some time. Now, finally I saw a man here who had a clear and definite aim. I just wanted to speak to him at first to see, if I could assist him in any way. He received me at once and after I had introduced myself he said it was an extraordinary turn of fate that we should meet. We spoke at once about the things which were close to our hearts -- the defeat of the fatherland, and that one could not let it rest with that.
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The chief theme of this conversation was again Versailles. I told him that I myself to the fullest extent, and all I was, and all I possessed, were completely at his disposal for this, in my opinion, most essential and decisive matter: the fight against the Treaty of Versailles.
The second point which impressed me very strongly at the time and which I felt very deeply and really considered to be a basic condition, was the fact that he explained to me at length that it was not possible under the conditions then prevailing to bring about, in co-operation with only that element which at that time considered itself national -- whether it be the political so-called nationalist parties or those which still called themselves national, or the then existing clubs, fighter organizations, the Free Corps, et cetera -- with these people alone it was not possible to bring about a reconstruction with the aim of creating a strong national will among the German people, as long as the masses of German labor opposed this idea. One could only rebuild Germany again if one could enlist the masses of German labor. This could be achieved only if the will to become free from the unbearable shackles of the Treaty of Versailles were really felt by the broad masses of the people, and that would be possible only by combining the national conception with a social goal.
He gave me on that occasion for the first time a very wonderful and profound explanation of the concept of National Socialism; the unity of the two concepts of nationalism on the one hand and socialism on the other, which should prove themselves the absolute supporters of nationalism as well as of socialism -- the nationalism, if I may say so, of the bourgeois world and the socialism of the Marxist world. We must clarify these concepts again and through this union of the two ideas create a new vehicle for these new thoughts.
Then we proceeded to the practical side, in regard to which he asked me above all to support him in one point. Within the Party, as small as it was, he had made a special selection of these people who were convinced followers, and who were ready at any moment to devote themselves completely and unreservedly to the dissemination of our idea.
He said that I knew myself how strong Marxism and communism were everywhere at the time, and that actually he had been able to make himself heard at meetings only after he had opposed one physical force disturbing the meeting with another physical force protecting the meeting; for this purpose he had created the SA. The leaders at that time were too young, and he had long been on the lookout for a leader who had distinguished himself in some way in the last war, which was only a few years ago, so that there would be the necessary authority. He had always tried to find a "Pour le Merite" aviator or a "Pour le Merite" submarine man for
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this purpose, and now it seemed to him especially fortunate that I in particular, the last commander of the "Richthofen Squadron," should place myself at his disposal.
I told him that in itself it would not be very pleasant for me to have a leading part from the very beginning, since it might appear that I had come merely because of this position. We finally reached an agreement that for 1 to 2 months I was to remain officially in the background and take over leadership only after that, but actually I was to make my influence felt immediately. I agreed to this, and in that way I came together with Adolf Hitler.
DR. STAHMER: And when was that?
Goering: The end of October or the beginning of November 1922.
DR. STAHMER: The end of October?
Goering: Either the end of October or the beginning of November 1922.
DR. STAHMER: And then you officially entered the Party?
Goering: Yes, that was the same date. Just a few days after that I signed up.
DR. STAHMER: What tasks did Hitler then give you, that is, say, until November 1923?
Goering: The tasks arose from my position, which at that time had the title "Commander of the SA." At first it was important to weld the SA into a stable organization, to discipline it, and to make of it a completely reliable unit which had to carry out the orders which I or Adolf Hitler should give it. Up to that point it had been just a club which had been very active, but which still lacked the necessary construction and discipline.
I strove from the beginning to bring into the SA those members of the Party who were young and idealistic enough to devote their free thne and their entire energies to it. For at that time things were very difficult for these good men. We were very small in number and our opponents were far more numerous. Even in those days these men were exposed to very considerable annoyances and had to suffer all sorts of things.
In the second place I tried to find recruits among workmen, for I knew that among workmen particularly I should enroll many members for the SA.
At the same time we had naturally to see to it that the meetings of the Party, which generally were limited at that time to Munich, Upper Bavaria and Franconia, could actually be carried through in a satisfactory manner, and disturbances prevented. In most cases we succeeded. But sometimes we had a strong party of our opponents present. One side or the other still had weapons from the war and
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sometimes critical situations arose, and in some cases we had to send the SA as reinforcements to other localities.
In the course of the year 1923 the contrast between Bavaria and the Reich became even stronger. One could see that the Bavarian Government of that time wanted to go a different way to that of the Reich Government. The Reich Government was influenced strongly by Marxism, but the Bavarian Government was free from that, it was bourgeois.
Then suddenly the Bavarian Government was completely transformed when a governor general -- I believe he was called that -- or something of the sort, was appointed for Bavaria. It was Von Kahr, to whom the Bavarian Government was subordinate and to whom the Bavarian Government delegated all authority. Shortly after that the Reichswehr conflict developed. The 7th Reichswehr Division, which was stationed in Bavaria, was released from its oath to the Reich, which it had sworn to the Reich Constitution -- I do not know its name any longer -- that is to Von Kahr. This led to the conflict of the Generals Von Seeckt and Lossow. The same thing happened with the Bavarian police.
The Bavarian Government at the same time curried favor with the so-called national associations which were in part organized along military or semi-military lines and also possessed weapons. The whole thing was directed against Berlin and, as we expressed it, against the "November Republic." We could agree up to that point.
On the Sunday, before the 9th of November, there was a large parade in Munich. The whole Bavarian Government was there. The Reichswehr, the police and the fatherland associations, and we too, marched past. Suddenly, on that occasion, we saw that the figure in the foreground was no longer Herr Von Kahr but the Bavarian Crown Prince Rupprecht. We were very much taken aback by that. The suspicion arose among us that Bavaria wished to follow a course which would possibly lead to a considerable disintegration, and Bavaria might secede from the body of the Reich. But nothing was farther from our intentions than to permit that. We wanted a strong Reich, a unified Reich; and we wanted to have it cleansed of certain parties and authorities which were now ruling it.
We had become distrustful of the so-called "March on Berlin." When this became a certainty and Herr Von Kahr had called the well-known meeting in the Burgerbraukeller, it was high time to frustrate such plans and to guide the whole undertaking in the direction of the "Greater Germany" idea. Thus the events of 9 November 1923 materialized in very short time. But as far as I personally am concerned, I was -- and I never made a secret of this -- ready from the beginning to take part in every revolution against
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the so-called November Republic, no matter where and with whom it originated, unless it originated with the Left, and for these tasks I had always offered my services.
Then I was severely wounded at the Feldhermhalle -- the events are well known -- and with this incident I close this first chapter.
DR. STAHMER: When, after that time, did you come together with Hitler again?
Goering: At first I was in a hospital in Austria. There was a trial before the Bavarian People's Court regarding the 9th of November.
DR.STAHMER: Who was indicted?
Goering: Hitler was indicted first of all, and naturally all those who had been present and were apprehended. I had been in Upper Bavaria for several days in a seriously wounded state and was then brought to the border, was arrested there, and then the Bavarian police brought me back to a different place. I asked Hitler at that time, whether I should appear at the trial. He begged me urgently not to do that, and that was a good thing. In this way the proceedings could not be held behind closed doors, because I had made the statement that if that was done I, for my part, would make an appropriate public statement with regard to the trial.
Then, after my recuperation, I spent about a year in Italy; then elsewhere abroad. In the year 1926 or 1927 there was a general amnesty for all the people involved in the different illegal -- if I should call them that -- incidents which had occurred up to then, not only for us but also for the Leftists and the peasants, and I could return to Germany.
I met Hitler again for the first time in 1927 at a rather brief conference in Berlin, where he was present. I was not active in the Party then, rather I wanted first to provide myself with an independent position once more. Then for months I was not in touch with Hitler again. Shortly before the May elections of the Reichstag in 1928 Hitler called me and told me he wanted to put me up as one of the first of the Reichstag candidates for the National Socialist Party and asked me whether I were willing and I said "yes," and also whether my activity in the Party to a still greater extent ...
DR. STAHMER: One question. Had you meanwhile joined the SA?
Goering: No; at that time I had nothing more to do with the SA. In the meantime there were new appointments in the SA and the new leader of the SA, Von Pfeffer, naturally wanted to keep his position and would not have liked to see me in close touch with the SA.
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DR. STAHMER: Then after 1923 you had no office or position in the SA?
Goering: After 1923 my active position in the SA ceased. Not until after the seizure of power, at a later date, when the so-called honorary offices were created, did I receive, as an honorary post, the highest rank in the SA. But to come back, in 1928 I was elected to the Reichstag and from that time on I toured the country as a speaker for the Party.
The SA, I do not recall in what year, had been reestablished and was now no longer limited to Bavaria, but had been extended to the whole Reich.
DR. STAHMER: Was it prohibited after 1923?
Goering: After 1928, it was prohibited for the time being.
DR. STAHMER: When was this prohibition rescinded?
Goering: I cannot say exactly, at any rate at a time when I had not yet retumed to Germany. But in any case it had spread over all Germany and was now urgently necessary. The parties at that time, the larger ones, all had their so-called fighting units. Especially active, I remember, was the Red Front, a collection of the fighting units of the Communists, our greatest opponents, with whom we had repeated clashes and who very often tried to break up our meetings. In addition, there was the Reichsbanner, the organization of the Social Democrats, the Democratic Party. Then there was the Stahlhelm; that was a nationalist organization of the Right. And then there was our SA, which is to be mentioned in the same connection.
I should like to emphasize that at that time the SA often had to suffer heavily. Most of the SA men came from the broad masses; they were minor employees, workmen, men who took part only for idealistic reasons and who had to give their services nights and evenings without receiving anything in payment, and who did so only out of their real faith in the fatherland. They were often most severely wounded and many pf them were shot in the clashes. They were persecuted by the government. They could not be officials; an official could not join the SA. They had to endure terrific pressure. I should like to emphasize that I had the highest respect and affection for these men, these SA men, who were not determined as has been pictured here, simply to do something cruel, but who were rather men who really exposed themselves voluntarily to the most difficult trials and vexations because of their idealism and their aims, and renounced many things in order to realize their ideals.
DR. STAHMER: What was your position in the Party during the period from 1928 until the seizure of power?
Goering: I had no office in the Party. I was never a political leader in the Party -- that is perhaps strange -- either in the Reich
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Party Directorate or elsewhere. I was first of all, as I said, a member of the Reichstag and thereby a member of the Reichstag faction of the Party. At the same time I was the Party speaker, that is, I travelled from city to city and tried to do whatever I could to extend the Party, to strengthen it, to recruit and convince new members, and especially to win over to our side Communist and Marxist adherents in order to create a broad base among the people and not to have Rightist circles only, which were nationalist of themselves.
From the middle of 1932 on, after we had weathered countless elections and for all of these elections had had to participate in the campaigns by holding speeches, for example, often three in one evening, often the whole night long; I, as a member of the Party, or better said, because our Party had the strongest representation in the Reichstag, was chosen President of the Reichstag and thereby took over a generally political task.
Shortly before, at the end of 1931, when I saw that the Party had grown to an extraordinary extent and was gaining, the Fuehrer said to me that he would very much like to have a direct representative who was independent of a Party office and who could carry out political negotiations. This person was not to be tied down to any particular Party office. He asked me whether I would take over this function, especially as I was living in the capital of the Reich anyway.
I took over this commission -- it was not an office, but rather a commission of a general nature. In a few sentences he gave me the liberty to negotiate with all parties from the Communists to the extreme Rightists, in order, let us say, to undertake specific joint action in the Reichstag, or other suitable political steps. Naturally also I was given in this connection, the task of effecting the dissemination and the penetration of our ideals in all circles. To these circles belonged, as has already been mentioned, the industrial and intellectual groups. Since I had connections with and access to all these circles, it was quite natural that the Fuehrer considered me specially suited for this task, as he could depend upon me absolutely in this respect and knew that I would use all my powers to advance our ideas. When I became President of the Reichstag my task in this capacity was greatly eased, for now I was, so to speak, legally authorized and even obliged to participate in political events. If, for instance, a government resigned in the Reichstag or fell through a vote of no confidence, it was my duty as President of the Reichstag, to suggest to the Reich President, after having negotiated with the parties, what the possibilities were in my opinion for a new coalition government. Thus the Reich President was always bound to receive me in this capacity with regard to these matters. So I
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was able to create a rather close connection between the Reich President and myself. But I should like to emphasize that this connection had already existed before; it was a matter of course that Field Marshal Von Hindenburg, if I requested it, would always receive me, because he had known me in the first World War.
DR. STAHMER: What part did you play in the appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor?
Goering: I should just like to explain first that when I said that I held no office in the Party, no political office, my position had nevertheless naturally become stronger and stronger, especially since the end of 1931, from which time on I worked more and more closely with the Fuehrer and was considered his special exponentbut only on the basis of normal and natural authority which increased greatly after the seizure of power.
As to my part in the appointment of Hitler: If I am to explain this to the Tribunal I must first describe the situation briefly. The balance among the parliamentary parties had been disturbed as early as the end of 1931 or the beginning of 1932. Things were going badly in Germany and no proper enduring parliamentary majority could actually beprocured, and already the Enabling Act then in force had come into play to the exclusion, in part, of the Constitution. I call to mind the Bruning cabinet which had to work to a large extent with the Enabling Act and which at the time was also greatly concerned with Article 48 of the Reich Constitution. Then there followed the Cabinet of Von Papen, which also could not put itself on a parliamentary basis, on a more lasting or firmer basis. Herr Von Papen at that time tried to make that possible and, in order to get a parliamentary basis, he asked the National Socialists, the strongest party at that time, to establish such a basis together with the other parties. There was some talk -- Von Papen's name had been given to the President as a nominee for Reich Chancellor -- that Hitler should become the Vice Chancellor in this Cabinet. I remember that I told Herr Von Papen at that time that Hitler could become any number of things, but never Vice. If he were to be made anything, he would naturally have to be in the highest position and it would be completely unbearable and unthinkable to place our Fuehrer in any sort of second position. We would then have had to play the role of governing, but possibly not all according to our lights, and Hitler as a representative of the strongest party would have had to be responsible for these things. This we declined categorically. I do not emphasize that because Herr Von Papen is in the dock with me. He knows that we always respected him personally, but I told him then, after this gesture had come to nought, that we would not only not support him, but would also oppose his Cabinet in the Reichstag to the utmost, just as we would
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consistently fight every succeeding cabinet which did not give us a leading influence in the Chancellery.
There came then -- I do not remember exactly for how many months Herr Von Papen held the reins -- the well-known clash between him and me, he as Reich Chancellor, I as the President of the Reichstag, in which it was my intention to bring about the fall of his government, and I knew there was to be a motion of "no confidence" by the Communists, in which practically everybody would participate. It was necessary for this vote of "no confidence" to be expressed under all circumstances in order to show the Reich President that one could not govern with such cabinets without some sort of strong reserve. I saw the "red portfolio" and knew that the order for dissolution was in it, but let the voting be carried through first. Thirty-two votes were for Von Papen and about five hundred were against him. The Cabinet of Von Papen resigned.
Up to that point all the parties had drawn up cabinets, apart from the few small fragmentary parties. All men who were available had already been presented to the people at some time. Towards the end, Reich Defense Minister Von Schleicher, the political figure behind the scenes, had played an increasingly important part. There were therefore only two possibilities: Either the actual proportion of power would be taken into account and the leader of the strongest party, as is generally customary, would be brought into conferences and entrusted with the power, or else the man who was operating behind the scenes, the only possibility that was left, would be brought forward. And this happened. Herr Von Schleicher himself took over the chancellorship in conjunction with -- and this is important -- the office of Reich Defense Minister. It was clear to us, not only to us but also to the other parties, that as Herr Von Schleicher had far fewer personal sympathizers than Herr Von Papen and could not bring about a majority, a military dictatorship was finally aimed at by Von Schleicher. I had discussions with Herr Von Schleicher and told him that at this moment it was even possible to form a parliamentary majority. Through conferences I had succeeded in bringing together the German Nationals, National Socialists, Center, German People's Party and smaller supporting groups, to form a majority. It was clear to me that such a majority could be only temporary because the conflicting interests were too great. But it was a matter of indifference to me whether I brought our Party to power this way or that -- if by means of parliamentary negotiations, very good; if by the Reich President's summons, all the better.
These negotiations were turned down by Herr Von Schleicher because he knew that he would then not be able to remain chancellor. Then again there were Emergency Laws and Enabling
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Acts. Parliament had thus been more or less excluded even before our seizure of power.
I immediately issued the same challenge to Herr Von Schleicher in the Reichstag, much more emphatically than previously to Herr Von Papen. In the meantime the presidential election had taken place and after that a Reichstag election, in which, after the dissolution of Von Papen's Cabinet we lost several seats. We were reduced from 232 to 196 seats. Then in January there were further elections, which showed an extraordinary rise in favor of our Party and proved that the short crisis had been surmounted and that the Party was on the upgrade more strongly than ever before.
On Sunday, the 22nd of January 1933 -- the 30th was a Monday -- I was in Dresden at a large political meeting, when I was summoned in the morning by the Fuehrer to motor to Berlin immediately. I arrived that afternoon, and he told me, which I already knew, that the Reich President was no longer satisfied with Von Schleicher and saw that political matters could not continue in this way; nothing was ever accomplished; the Reich President had independently arrived at the conclusion that somehow some responsibility must now be given to the strongest Party. Before that time, in a very clever way, a wrong personal impression of the Fuehrer had been created in the old gentleman's mind and he was prejudiced -- he probably took offense at the word socialism, because he understood that in a different way.
Briefly, Hitler revealed to me that day, that that evening I was to speak to the Field Marshal's son at the home of Herr Von Ribbentrop. I believe Herr Von Papen was to be present also and -- I am not sure about this -- Meissner, who was the State Secretary of the Reich President. The Field Marshal's son wanted to inquire on behalf of his father what the possibilities were of Hitler as chancellor and the inclusion of the Party in responsibility. In a rather lengthy conversation I declared to the son that he should tell his father that, one way or another, Von Schleicher would lead to shipwreck. I explained to him the new basic conditions for forming a new government, and how I had heard now of the Field Marshals willingness to entrust Hitler with the chancellorship, thereby regarding the Party as a main basis for a future government majority if Adolf Hitler were also able to succeed on this occasion in drawing in the German Nationals and the Stahlhelm -- for he wanted to see a definite national basis. The Stahlhelm was not a parliamentary party but it had many followers. The German Nationals under Hugenberg were a parliamentary party.
We did not discuss very much more that evening. I told Von Hindenburg's son that he could tell his father that I would undoubtedly bring that about, and the Fuehrer gave me orders to undertake
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negotiations during the coming week with these parties on the one hand and with the Reich President on the other. There were difficulties here and there. I found that our conceding...
THE PRESIDENT: I think we will break off now.
[A recess was taken.]
DR. STAHMER: You were dealing with the question of your participation in the appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor. Would you continue?
Goering: I had arrived at the last decisive period. The negotiations had become somewhat difficult. The Field Marshal, Reich President Von Hindenburg, who, until then, had come to know the Fuehrer personally only through two conversations and who had not yet overcome his distrust of him -- a distrust which had been instilled and nourished for many years by a variety of influences, simply because he did not know him -- had at that time demanded some severe restrictions, so that we, the strongest and now the leading party, which would have to be responsible to the nation for future measures, would be relatively very restricted and, in comparison with our strength, weakly represented in the government.
One must not forget that at this moment Germany had arrived at the lowest point of her downward trend. There were 8 million unemployed; all programs had failed; confidence in the parties existed no more; there was a very strong rise on the part of the revolutionary Leftist side; and political insecurity. Therefore those measures were necessary which the people would expect of us, if we were in the government, and for which we had to stand. So it was a very heavy burden to take over such a responsibility with such severe political conditions imposed.
First condition: The Reich President wanted, under all circumstances, that Herr Von Papen should become Vice Chancellor in this Cabinet. Apart from his sympathetic personality Herr Von Papen did not bring us anything, because there was no party behind him. But the Reich President demanded, beyond that, that Herr Von Papen should attend the presentation of the reports which the Fuehrer, after being appointed Reich Chancellor, would have to make to the Reich President. But this was abandoned very quickly, and by the Reich President himself.
Secondly, the Reich President desired that the Foreign Office, independent of all parties, should be in the hands of Herr Von Neurath. Herr Von Neurath also brought us nothing in the way of political power, apart from his knowledge and ability.
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Thirdly, the position of Prussian Prime Minister which, next to that of the Reich Chancellor was always the most important in Germany during the period after the World War, was likewise to be filled by the person of Herr Von Papen. Before the World War, as it is known, the offices of Reich Chancellor and Prussian Prime Minister were for these reasons always combined in one person.
Fourthly, the Reich President demanded that the office of Reich Defense Minister should also be in the hands of an independent person, a soldier; and he himself chose him, without our having anything to do with it, namely, General Von Blomberg, who at that time was at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. Herr Von Blomberg was not known personally either to the Fuehrer or to me at that time.
Even though the essential and definitely most important posts in the Cabinet were thus already filled by persons in whose choice we had had no influence, still further demands developed in the course of the week. It was demanded that the Finance Ministry should be in the hands of Count Schwerin von Krosigk, again a man backed by no political party. The Ministry of Transportation was to be under Herr Von Eltz, to whom the same applied. The leader of the Stahlhelm, Seldte, was to be taken into the Cabinet. Certainly the Stahlhelm was a large and extensive movement, but not politically, and it was not represented by a single delegate in the Reichstag.
There was left, as a really political party, only the German National Party, with 36 seats -- our only parliamentary ally, so to speak. Here too, extraordinary demands were made, which were in no correct proportion to the smallness of that party.
In the end we, as the strongest party at that time with 232 seats, were given only the following, as far as I remember: The office of Reich Chancellor of course; then Dr. Frick as Reich Minister of the Interior, in the Cabinet; and I third in the Reich Cabinet, with an assignment as Reich Commissioner for Aviation, a very small subordinate division, an insignificant branch of a small Aviation Department in the Ministry of Transport, but no department otherwise. But then I succeeded in becoming, without conditions attached, Prussian Minister of the Interior and thereby a political minister of the largest German state, for in the end Prussia was actually the place where the rise to internal power started.
It was so far an extraordinarily difficult affair. At the last moment the forming of the Cabinet threatened to fail because of two factors. The Fuehrer had made the unconditional demand that shortly after the appointment of the new Cabinet a new Reichstag election should take place, knowing correctly that the Party would be greatly strengthened thereby and possibly could represent a
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majority by itself, and thus be in a position to form the govemment platform by parliamentary means.
Hugenberg, as leader of the German National Party, absolutely opposed this, knowing that his party would probably disappear more or less in this election. Even 5 minutes before the meeting of the Cabinet there was still danger that it would break up because of this. It was pure chance that at this moment the Reich President undertook to administer the oath to the new ministers; and so the Cabinet was formed.
The second danger threatened from Schleicher who, through his confidant, on the Sunday made the following offer to the Fuehrer and me: He wanted to emphasize that the Reich President was not a sure factor as far as the new government was concerned; it would serve the purpose better if he -- even though he had withdrawn the day before -- were to join us to form a government now quite definitely not on a parliamentary basis of any kind, but rather on the basis of an entirely new situation, a coalition of the Reicllswehr and the NSDAP.
The Fuehrer refused, recognizing that this would be impossible and that the intentions were not honest.
When Herr Von Blomberg arrived at the railroad station from Geneva on the Monday morning, he was given two orders, one from Herr Von Hammerstein, Chief of the Army Command and his superior, to come to him immediately; the other from Hindenburg, his commander-in-chief, to come to him immediately. There was at that time, known only to a few, the threat of a Putsch by Schleicher and Hammerstein with the Potsdam Garrison.
On the Sunday evening I mentioned that to Reich President Von Hindenburg, and that is the reason why, 2 hours before the rest of the Cabinet, Herr Von Blomberg was appointed Minister of War, or at that time Reich Defense Minister, in order to prevent any wrong move by the Reichswehr.
At 11 o'clock on the morning of the 30th the Cabinet was formed and Hitler appointed Reich Chancellor.
DR. STAHMER: Had the Party come to power in a legal way, in your opinion?
Goering: Of course the Party had come to power in an entirely legal way, because the Party had been called upon by the Reich President according to the Constitution, and according to the principles in force the Party should have been called upon much earlier than that. The Party gained strength and came to power only by way of normal elections and the franchise law then valid.
DR. STAHMER: What measures were now taken to strengthen this power after Hitler's appointment?
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Goering: It was a matter of course for us that once we had come into power we were determined to keep that power under all circumstances. We did not want power and governmental authority for power's sake, but we needed power and governmental authority in order to make Germany free and great. We did not want to leave this any longer to chance, to elections, and parliamentary majorities, but we wanted to carry out the task to which we considered ourselves called.
In order to consolidate this power now, it was necessary to reorganize the political relationship of power. That was carried out in such a manner that, shortly after the seizure of governmental authority in the Reich and in Prussia, the other states followed automatically and more or less strong National Socialist governments were formed everywhere.
Secondly, the so-called political officials who according to the Reich Constitution could be recalled at any time, or could be dismissed, would naturally have to be replaced now, according to custom, by people from the strongest party.
As far as legality, that is, the opinion that we came to power legally, is concerned, I should like to emphasize two considerations in particular.
Firstly: in the years 1925 to 1932 no fewer than 30 Reichstag, Landtag, and presidential elections took place in Germany. The very fact that 37 parties had candidates in one Reichstag election alone gives a clear picture of how it happened that one strong coalition formed the so-called government majority, and another strong grouping formed the opposition, each with an entirely different point of view. Just think of an opposition formed in common by Communists and National Socialists for example, and the fact that one small party which had eight representatives altogether was now the decisive factor, and in two readings of a law, especially of a decisive law -- every law had to have three readings -- voted against the government and then secured sufficient political and material advantages to force the law through for the government at its third, final reading. This may give a picture of the conditions.
The second point which I want to emphasize especially in regard to the legality of our coming to power, is the following:
Had the democratic election system of England or the United States of America existed in Germany, then the National Socialist German Workers Party would, at the end of 1931 already, have legally possessed all seats in the Reichstag, without exception. For in every electoral district in Germany at that time, or at the beginning of 1932 at the latest, in every one -- I emphasize this once more -- the NSDAP was the strongest party; that is to say, given an electoral system as it is in Great Britain or in the United States
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all these weaker parties would have failed to gain any seats and from this time on we would have had only National Socialists in the Reich, in a perfectly legal way according to the democratic principles of these two great democracies.
For the further seizure of power the main political offices were now filled by new holders, as is the case in other lands when there has been a change-over of power among the political parties. Besides the ministers there were first of all -- taking Prussia as an example -- the administrative heads of the provinces, the official heads of administrative districts, the police commissioners, county heads (Landrate). In addition there was a certain further grade -- I believe down to ministerial directors -- who were considered political officials. District attorneys were considered political officials. This on the whole describes the range of offices which were filled anew when a shift in political power took place and had previously been bargained out among the parties having the majority. It did not go so far as in other countries -- all the way down to the letter carrier. There was a change of office holders, but only of the most important posts.
In spite of that we did very little in this direction at first. First of all, I requested Herr Von Papen to relinquish to me the position of Prussian Prime Minister, as he, having no party, behind him, could not very well undertake this re-shuffling, but rather I, that is, one of us, should undertake it. We agreed at once. Thereupon I filled some, a relatively small part, of the highest administrative Prussian offices with National Socialists. At the same time I generously allowed Social Democrats to remain in these posts for many weeks. I filled a few important provincial offices with leading Catholic persons who were much closer to the Center Party than to us. But slowly, by degrees, in the course of time these offices, to the extent that they were key administrative positions, were, of course, filled with National Socialists -- it could hardly be otherwise in the further course of the change-over, since these offices at the same time corresponded to the political districts. Even until the very end district heads remained in part National Socialists, in part, however, simply officials. The same was true of the Landrate. In the case of police commissioners, I should like to emphasize for the information of the Tribunal that the police commissioners at first had nothing to do with the Gestapo. A police commissioner in the bigger cities had the same function as a Landrat in the country, in part at least. These police commissioner posts had always been filled by the largest political parties until the seizure of power. Thus I found Social Democrats in these positions who could not, with the best of intentions, remain, as they had always been our opponents up to that date. That would have been absurd. I filled these police commissioner posts partly with National
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Socialists but partly, however, with people who had nothing to do with the Party. I remember that to the most important police commissioner post in the whole German Reich, the one in Berlin, I appointed Admiral Von Levetzow, retired, who was not a member of the Party. In some of these offices I put former SA leaders.
For the purpose of consolidation of power, which seemed very important not only to me but all of us because that was to form the basic condition for our further work, a still stronger influence came into the Reich Cabinet. New National Socialists received positions as ministers. New ministries were created. In addition came a number of new basic laws.
It was indeed clear to everyone who had concerned himself with German conditions, either abroad or especially in Germany, that we would put an end to the Communist Party as quickly as possible. It was an absolutely necessary consequence that it should be prohibited. We were convinced that if the Communist Party, which was the strongest next to us, had succeeded in coming to power, it would certainly not have taken any National Socialists into its cabinet or tolerated them elsewhere. We were aware that we would have been eliminated in an entirely different manner.
A further point in the consolidation of power was to eliminate to a certain extent the Reichstag as a parliament, at least for a period of time during the reorganization, because its influence was increasing until then. That, however, had happened owing to the fact that we had an absolute majority in the Reichstag after the new election. In some caseg we suggested to the former parties that they should dissolve themselves, because they no longer had any purpose, and those which could not dissolve themselves were dissolved by us. I was speaking of the Communist Party and the Social, Democratic Party. Beyond that, we wanted finally to fulfill an old, old longing of the German people and now not only appear to have the structure of a Reich, but at last, really become a unified German Reich. This purpose was served by firmly establishing the Reich idea and the Reich's power throughout the countless states and provinces. If it had been difficult for a fervent German patriot before the first World War to get along with a heap of petty princes, it was even worse with those who took their places, for in the place of one, small will there now appeared the most various, party-bound officials.
In the Reich there was a majority based on one thing; in Prussia, on another; in Bavaria, on yet another; and in Hesse, on something quite different. It was impossible in this manner to establish Reich sovereignty and a Reich which could be great again.
Therefore I suggested to the Fuehrer that the state parliaments should be dissolved and done away with as a matter of principle.
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In Prussia I began with the elimination of state parliaments, which I considered entirely superfluous, for the simple reason that the principle "Reich dominion, not state authority" was already in force. I saw no reason why so many different authorities should exist which, with their unnecessary frictions and discussions merely hindered constructive work. Yet, however much I wanted to see and make the Reich structurally unified, I, and the Fuehrer above all, always supported the idea that within the German states and provinces cultural life should remain many-sided and bound to local traditions; that is to say, all the old centers of culture, which, as is well known, had formed around Munich, Dresden, Weimar, and so on, should continue to exist in that way and be supported.
For the further consolidation of power those laws were created which would first of all eliminate any further obstacle to progress, that is to say, on the basis of Paragraph 48, the law did away with the so-called freedoms. The conception of these freedoms is a matter of controversy. The "Law for the Protection of People and State" was created, a law which was most urgently needed. In the past years much had been prohibited which could have stimulated patriotic activity, yet a senseless defamation had been allowed of the German people, its history, the German State, and those symbols and objects which are, after all, very holy things to a patriot; and they were not protected in any way.
It is a matter of course that in connection with the concept of "conformity" which arose at this time, very many unnecessary and excessive things were done, for after the seizure of power the whole movement developed along revolutionary lines, although not in the way of revolutions as they had been known in history until then, such as the French Revolution, or the great Bolshevist Revolution -- that is to say, not by way of great conflicts and cruel changes, revolutionary tribunals that executed people by hundreds,of thousands -- but still with a strong revolutionary aim in the direction of unity of State, Party, and National Socialism as the basis of leadership and of ideology.
This "conformity" which I have just mentioned was then effected in detail; but, as I have said, on the occasion of such drastic political transformations people will always overstep the mark here and there. Personally I did not consider it necessary that every organization should now become National Socialist or that -- if I am to express myself quite drastically -- every club or similar organization should absolutely have to have a National Socialist chairman. But in decisive political matters, and in matters of principle, our ideas and our ideology had to be recognized more and more; for that was the basic condition for the rebuilding, establishing, and strengthening of the Reich.
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An additional strengthening, which occurred only after the death of Reich President Von Hindenburg in 1934, was the confirmation of the head of the state and the Reich Chancellor in one person. To this I should like to add that on this occasion I had a long conversation with the Fuehrer. Right from the beginning we had discussed whether Hitler would and should take over the position of head of the State, and whether I should take over the chancellorship. In view of the Fuehrer's temperament and attitude it was unthinkable that the Fuehrer, sitting on a throne above the political clouds, so to speak, should appear only as head of the State. He was definitely a political leader and hence a leader of the government. Also the thought of putting in some other person as a puppet head of the State we considered unworthy of the situation.
The Fuehrer told me then that the simplest thing to do would be to take as example the United States of America, where the head of the state is at the same time also the head of the government. Thus, following the example of the United States, we combined the position of the head of the State with the head of the government, and he called himself "Fuehrer of the German People and Reich Chancellor of the German Reich."
That he thereby automatically became also the Commander-in-Chief of the German Armed Forces followed as a matter of course, according to the Constitution, and also according to the previous Constitution, just as is the case in other countries also.
That was the position, broadly speaking, apart from a number of other developments which probably will have to be mentioned later in my testimony -- as, for instance, the establishment of police power, the basic element of the consolidation of power, and so on.
In conclusion I wish to say: 1) It is correct that I -- and I can speak only for myself -- have done everything which was at all within my personal power to strengthen the National Socialist movement, to increase it, and have worked unceasingly to bring it to power under all circumstances and as the one and only authority. 2) 1 have done everything to secure for the Fuehrer the place as Reich Chancellor which rightfully belonged to him. 3) When I look back, I believe I have not failed to do anything to consolidate our power to such an extent that it would not have to yield to the chances of the political game or to violent actions but would rather in the further course of reconstruction, become the only factor of power, which would lead the Reich and lead it -- as we hoped -- to a great development.
DR. STAHMER: What offices did you hold after the seizure of power?
Goering: First I was President of the Reichstag, as before, and I remained that until the end. In the Reich Cabinet I was given at
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first the post of Reich Minister and Reich Commissioner for Aviation, not the Air Force. In parentheses I should like to say that from the very beginning it was clear to me that we had to establish an air force.
In Prussia I was given the position of the Pfussian Minister of the Interior, then on 20 April 1933, in addition, the post of Prime Minister of Prussia.
The Reich Commissariat for Aviation had become before this, I believe already in March 1933, a Reich Ministry for Aviation.
Then there were still several not very important offices, President of the State Council, and so on.
Important at that time, however, were the two offices of Prime Minister of Prussia on the one hand and Minister of Aviation on the other. The office of Prussian Minister of the Interior I handed over to the Reich Minister of the Interior at the beginning of 1934, for it was part of the consolidation of power and above all, of the clarification necessary for proper governing authority in the Reich, that the Prussian ministries should be combined with those of the Reich. Only in this way was it possible for the Reich ministries to receive practical information about the political work of the day and about the work of the departments. Only through this combination was that possible.
DR. STAHMER: Did you in your capacity as Prussian Minister of the Interior create the Gestapo and the concentration camps which have so often been mentioned here? When and for what purpose were they established?
Goering: I mentioned before that for the consolidation of power the first prerequisite was to create along new lines that instrument which at all times and in all nations is always the inner political instrument of power, namely, the police. There was no Reich police, only provincial police. The most important was the Prussian police. This had already been filled by our predecessors, the former parties, with their own people, according to their political attitude. I have mentioned the filling of the posts of police commissioners and those of the chiefs of the main police offices within the Prussian Ministry of the Interior. Thus it was that our opponents, our most bitter opponents, who up to then had always opposed us most vigorously with this police power, were still in the regional offices.
A slight loosening up had taken place before I took charge, during the time when the Social Democratic Braun-Severing government was replaced by the government of Herr Von Papen. At that time the bitterest opponents were also removed from the police. Nevertheless the most important positions were still in the hands of definite political opponents. I could not very well expect that those
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who until yesterday were ready to employ the police with particular severity against us, would today show the same loyalty to the new state.
Before our time there was also a political police in Prussia. That was Police Department Ia, and its task was first of all the supervision of and the fight against the National Socialists, and also, in part, against the Communists.
Now, I could have simply put new people into this political police and let it continue along the old lines. But the situation had changed because of our seizure of power, for at this time, as I have mentioned before, the Communist Party was extraordinarily strong. It had over 6 million voters, and in its Red Front Organization it had a thoroughly revolutionary instrument of power. It was quite obvious to the Communist Party that if we were to stay in power for any length of time, it would ultimately lose its power.
Looking back, the danger positively existed at that time of political tension, and with atmosphere of conflict, that revolutionary acts might have taken place on the part of the Communists, particularly as, even after we came to power political murders and political shootings of National Socialists and policemen by that party did not stop, but at times even increased. Also the information which I received was such that I was made extremely fearful of a sudden swing in that direction. Therefore with this department as it was, I could not ward off that danger. I needed reliable political police not only in the main office, but also in the branch offices. I therefore had to enlarge this instrument.
In order to make clear from the outset that the task of this police was to make the State secure I called it the Secret State Police, and at the same time I established branch offices of this police. I took in a great number of political officials who were experienced, and at the beginning took fewer people from the Party circles because for the time being I had to attach importance to professional ability.
I also wanted this police to be concerned exclusively with protecting the State, first of all against its enemies. And the leader whom I selected for this police force was not from the Party but came from the former police. He, Diels, was already there at that time as Oberregierungsrat and later as Ministerialrat, and likewise the main chiefs of the Gestapo were officials who were not from the Party. Later the Party element appeared in the police more and more. Their mission was first of all to create as quickly as possible all assurance of security against any action from the left.
I know -- as was afterwards proved -- that the headquarters of the Communists in Berlin, the Liebknecht House, was strongly fortified and contained very many arms; we had also at that time brought to light very strong connections between the Russian Trade Delegation
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and the German Communist Party. Even if I arrested, as I did, thousands of communist functionaries at one blow, so that an immediate danger was averted at the outset, the danger as such was by no means eliminated. It was now necessary to disclose the secret connections, the network of these secret connections, and to keep them constantly under observation. For that purpose a police leadership would have to crystallize. The Social Democratic Party on the whole seemed to me not nearly so dangerous, especially as far as its members were concerned. But of course they were also absolute opponents of our new State. A part of their functionaries were radical, another part less radical. The more radical I likewise placed under observation, while a whole number of former Social Democratic ministers, heads of Prussian provinces and higher officials, as I said before, were quietly discharged and received their pensions, and nothing further was undertaken against them. Of course there were also other functionaries of the Social Democratic Party whom we definitely had to watch carefully. Thus the Secret State Police was created by me for these tasks, first of all in Prussia, because I had nothing to do with the other states at that time. The organization of the rest of the police is not of such importance here.
DR. STAHMER: The concentration camps?
Goering: When the need became evident for creating order first of all, and removing the most dangerous element of disorder directed against us, I decided to have the communist functionaries and leaders arrested all at once. I therefore had a list made for that purpose, and it was clear to me that even if I arrested only the most important and most dangerous of these functionaries it still would involve several thousands, for it was necessary to arrest not only the party functionaries but also those from the Red Front Organization, as the Communists also had affiliated organizations. These arrests were in accordance with reasons of State security and State necessity. It was a question of removing a danger. Only one possibility was available here, that of protective custody -- that is, whether or not one could prove that these people were involved in a traitorous act or an act hostile to the State, whether or not one could expect such an act from them, such an act must be prevented and the possibility eliminated by means of protective custody. That was nothing new and it was not a National Socialist invention. Already before this such protective custody measures had been carried out, partly against the Communists, and chiefly against us, the National Socialists. The prisons were not available for this purpose, and also I want to stress from the very beginning that this was a political act for the defense of the State. Therefore, I said that these men should first of all be gathered into camps -- one to two camps were proposed at that time -- because I could not tell them how long the
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internment of these people would be necessary nor how the number would be increased by the further exposure of the entire communist movement. When we occupied the Karl Liebknecht House we found so many arms, material, and preparations for a civil war, that, as I said, one could not gain a general view of its extent. I have already indicated, as is obvious, that in view of such great political tension as existed between the extreme wings of these political opponents and in view of the bitterness of the opposition caused by the continuous fighting in the streets, the mutual tension, et cetera, resulting from the political struggle, the situation would conceivably not be a very pleasant one for the inmates. For this reason I gave instructions that the guard, if possible to a large extent, should consist of police forces; only where those were not adequate should auxiliary forces be called. I have stated my opinion with regard to the question of concentration camps and I should like to point out that this name was not created by us, but that it appeared in the foreign press and was then adopted. Where the name originated, is rather an historical matter. At the end of 1933 in a book, which at first appeared in, English, at the request of an English publisher, and which has already been presented by the Prosecution as evidence, I stated my views on this matter quite openly -- that was at the end of 1933. 1 point out again that it was for foreign countries, for English-speaking countries. At that time I openly stated the following: Of course, in the beginning there were excesses; of course, the innocent were also hurt here or there; of course, there were beatings here and there and acts of brutality were committed; but compared to all that has happened in the past and to the greatness of the events, this German revolution of freedom is the least bloody and the most disciplined of all revolutions known to history.
DR. STAHMER: Did you supervise the treatment of the prisoners?
Goering: I naturally gave instructions that such things should not happen. That they did happen and happened everywhere to a smaller or greater extent I have just stated. I always pointed out that these things ought not to happen, because it was important to me to win over some of these people for our side and to re-educate them.
DR. STAHMER: Did you do anything about abuses of which you heard?
Goering: I took a personal interest in the concentration camps up to the spring of 1934. At that time there were two or three camps in Prussia.
Witness Korner has already mentioned the case of Thalmann. I would like to speak about it briefly, because it was the most striking case, as Thalmann was the leader of the Communist Party. I could
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not say today who it was who hinted to me that Thalmann had been beaten.
I had him called to me in my room directly, without informing the higher authorities and questioned him very closely. He told me that he had been beaten during, and especially at the beginning, of the interrogations. Thereupon, as the witness who was present has said already, I told Thalmann that I regretted that. At the same time I told him, "Dear Thalmann, if you had come to power, I probably would not have been beaten, but you would have chopped my head off immediately." And he agreed. Then I told him that in the future he must feel free to let me know if anything of this sort should happen to him or to others. I could not always be there, but it was not my wish that any act of brutality should be committed against them.
Just to demonstrate this case, which was not an unimportant one, I want to stress that later Thalmann's wife turned to me for help and that I answered her letter immediately.
At that time I also -- this I can prove by evidence -- helped the families of the inmates financially so far as that was necessary.
At this opportunity I should also like to speak about the unauthorized cencentration camps which have been mentioned, the purpose of which came under the heading of abolition of abuses. At first I did not know anything about them, but then I found out about one such camp near Stettin. It had been established by Karpfenstein, at that time Gauleiter of Pomerania. I had this camp closed at once -- my Defense Counsel will remember that he, independently of me, received information about this during the Trial, from an inmate whom I do not know at all -- and I had the guilty persons, who had committed acts of brutality there, brought before a court and prosecuted by the state attorney, which can likewise be proved. Karpfenstein was expelled from the Party.
A second camp of that kind was found in Breslau, which Heines had established. I do not remember today what happened there. At any rate, it was a camp not authorized by me. This one I likewise closed down and did away with immediately. Heines was one of the closest of Rohm's collaborators, about whom I shall speak later.
As far as I can remember-- I cannot name the place exactly anymore -- close to Berlin another unauthorized concentration camp had been secretly established by Ernst, the SA leader in Berlin, whom I had always suspected of acts of brutality. That also, was closed. Ernst belonged to those evil figures who were eliminated in the Rohm Putsch. It is possible to question persons who were inmates of these camps at that time, 1933 and the beginning of 1934, as to whether during that time anything happened which even approached that which happened later.
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DR. STAHMER: Did you, after a consolidation of power had taken place, ever free inmates to any great extent and at what time did you do so?
Goering: At Christmas of 1933 I gave orders for the release of the lighter cases, that is the less dangerous cases, and those cases of which one had the impression the people had resigned themselves to the situation; that was about 5,000 people. I repeated that once more in November 1934 for 2,000 inmates. I stress again that that refers only to Prussia. At that time, as far as I remember -- I cannot say exactly -- one camp was dissolved or at least closed temporarily. That was at a time when nobody thought that it would ever be the subject of an investigation before an international tribunal.
DR. STAHMER: How long were you in charge of the Gestapo and the concentration camps and until what date?
Goering: Actually I was in charge until the beginning of 1934, that is, at the beginning of 1934 Diels was the head and he gave me frequent reports about the Gestapo and about the concentration camps. Meanwhile, outside Prussia a re-grouping of police had taken place with the result that Himmler was in charge of the police in all the provinces of Germany with the exception of Prussia only. Probably following the example of my measures, he had installed the Secret State Police there, because the police at that time was still a matter of the states. There were the police of Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden, Hesse, Saxony, et cetera.
He had become the leader of all these police forces, and of course he now sought to get the leadership of the police in Prussia as well. I was very satisfied with Diels at that time, and from my point of view I saw no reason for letting any change take place.
These efforts, I believe, started as early as in the late summer of 1933. Shortly after I had transferred the Prussian Ministry of the Interior to the Reich Ministry of the Interior, in the spring of 1934, and so was no longer a departmental minister, Himmler, I assume, probably urged the Fuehrer more strongly to put him in charge of the Prussian police as well. At that time I did not expressly oppose it. It was not agreeable to me; I wanted to handle my police myself. When, however, the Fuehrer asked me to do this and said that it would be the correct thing and the expedient thing, and that it was proved necessary for the enemy of the State to be fought throughout the Reich in a uniform way, I actually handed the police over to Himmler, who put Heydrich in charge. But legally I still retained it, because there was still no Reich police in existence.
The rest of the police, the state police -- that is the uniformed police -- I did not turn over to him, because, as I shall explain later, I had to a large extent organized this police in Prussia along military
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lines, in order to be able to fit it into the future rearmament program. For this reason I could not and did not want to give him the uniformed police, because it had been trained for purely military purposes -- by me, at my instigation, and on my responsibility -- and had nothing to do with the actual police. It was turned over to the Armed Forces by me in 1935.
In 1936 the Reich Police Law was issued, and thereby the office of the Chief of the German Police was created. By virtue of this law the police was then legally and formally turned over to the ReichsFuehrer SS, or, as he was called, the Chief of the German Police.
DR. STAHMER: You mentioned before the Rohm Putsch. Who was Rohm, and with what event was this Putsch connected?
Goering: Rohm had become leader of the SA, Chief of Staff of the SA.
TBE PRESIDENT: I think we had better adjourn. It is 5 o'clock now.
[The Tribunal adjourned until 14 March 1946 at 1000 hours.]