Hearing Wilhelm Keitel 4

Morning session, April 6, 1946. Part 1


Gen. RUDENKO: Defendant Keitel, I am asking you about the directive concerning the so-called communist insurrectionary movement in the occupied territories. Yesterday your counsel showed you this directive. It is an order of September 16, 1941, Number R-98. I shall remind you of one passage from this order. It states: "In order to nip in the bud any conspiracy, the strongest measures should be taken at the first sign of trouble in order to maintain the authority of the occupying power and to prevent the conspiracy from spreading.." and furthermore: ".. one must bear in mind that in the countries affected, human life has absolutely no value and that a deterrent effect can be achieved only through the application of extraordinarily harsh measures."
You remember this basic idea of the order, that human life absolutely does not amount to anything. Do you remember this statement, the basic statement of the order, that "human life has absolutely no value?" Do you remember this sentence?
Gen. RUDENKO: You signed the order containing this statement?
Gen. RUDENKO: Do you consider that necessity demanded this extremely evil order?
KEITEL: I explained some of the reasons for this order yesterday and I pointed out that these instructions were addressed in the first place to the Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht offices in the southeast; that is, the Balkan regions, where extensive partisan warfare and a war between the leaders had assumed enormous proportions and secondly, because the same phenomena had been observed and established on the same or similar scale in certain defined areas of the occupied Soviet territory.
Gen. RUDENKO: Does this mean that you consider this order to have been entirely correct?
KEITEL: I have already explained in detail, in replying to questions, my fundamental standpoint with regard to all orders concerning the treatment of the population. I signed the order and by doing so I assumed responsibility within the scope of my official jurisdiction.
The PRESIDENT: The Tribunal considers that you are not answering the question. The question was perfectly capable of an answer "yes" or "no" and an explanation afterwards. It is not an answer to the question to say that you have already explained to your counsel.
Gen. RUDENKO: I ask you once more, do you consider this order, this particular order - and I emphasize in which it is stated that "human life has absolutely no value" - do you consider this order correct?
KEITEL: It does not contain these words, but I knew from year of experience that in the southeastern territories and in certain parts of the Soviet territory, human life was not respected to the same degree.
Gen. RUDENKO: You say that these words do not exist in this order?
KEITEL: To my knowledge those exact words do not appear but it says that human life has very little value in these territories. I remember something like that.
Gen. RUDENKO: According to your recollection now, you remember that you were interrogated by General Alexandrov on November 9, 1945. To a question in regard to the meaning of this sentence you replied: "I must admit that this sentence is authentic although the Führer himself inserted this sentence in the order". Do you remember your explanation?
KEITEL: That is correct. That is true.
Gen. RUDENKO: I can produce this order for you. I did not produce it because you were familiarizing yourself with it yesterday.
KEITEL: I did not read through all the points yesterday. I merely admitted its actual existence.
The PRESIDENT: It would help the Tribunal if you got a translation of the document. When you are cross-examining upon a document and as to the actual words of it, it is very inconvenient for us not to have the document before us.
Gen. RUDENKO: Mr. President, I shall at once present this order to the defendant. (Handing the document to the defendant).
The PRESIDENT: Is it Document 389-PS?
Gen. RUDENKO: Yes, this is Document 389-PS.
The PRESIDENT: When you are citing a document it would be a good thing if you would cite the number rather slowly because; very often the translation does not come through accurately to us.
Gen. RUDENKO: All right, I shall observe this in the future Mr. President. I numbered this document R-98, but it has a double number, R-98 and 389-PS. I cited Subparagraph 3b of this order. Defendant Keitel, have you familiarized yourself with the document?
KEITEL: Yes. The text in the German language says that "in the countries affected human life frequently has no value .."
Gen. RUDENKO: And further?
KEITEL: Yes, ".. and a deterrent effect can be obtained only by extreme harshness. To atone for the life of a German soldier .."
Gen. RUDENKO: Quite clear. And in this same order, in the same subparagraph "b", it is stated that: "To atone for the life of one German soldier, 50 to 100 Com¬munists must, as a rule, be sentenced to death. The method of execution should strengthen the measure of determent." Is that correct?
KEITEL: The German text is slightly different. It says: "In such cases in general, the death penalty for 50 to 100 Communists may be. considered adequate." That is the German wording.
Gen. RUDENKO: For one German soldier?
KEITEL: Yes. I know that and I see it here.
Gen. RUDENKO: That is what I was asking you about. So now I ask you once more..
KEITEL: Do you want an explanation of that or am I not to say any more?
Gen. RUDENKO: I shall now interrogate you on this matter. I ask you whether, when signing this order you thereby expressed your personal opinion on these cruel measures? In other words, were you in agreement with Hitler?
KEITEL: I signed the order but the figures contained in it are alterations made personally by Hitler himself.
Gen. RUDENKO: And what figures did you present to Hitler?
KEITEL: The figures in the original were 5 to 10.
Gen. RUDENKO: In other words, the divergence between you and Hitler consisted merely in the figures and not in the spirit of the document?
KEITEL: The idea was that the only way of deterring them was to demand several sacrifices for the life of one soldier, as is state here.
Gen. RUDENKO: You ..
The PRESIDENT: That was not an answer to the question. The question was whether the only difference between you and Hitler on this document was a question of figures. That admits of the answer "yes" or "no." Was the only difference between you and Hitler a question of figures?
KEITEL: Then I must say that with reference to the underlying principle there was a difference of opinion, the final results of which I no longer feel myself in a position to justify, since I added my signature on behalf of my department. There was a fundamental difference of opinion on the entire question.
Gen. RUDENKO: All right. Let us continue. I would like to remind you of one more order. It is the order dated December 16, 1942, referring to the so-called "Fight against the Partisans." This document was submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit Number USSR-16; I shall not examine you in detail with regard to this order. It was presented to you yesterday by you defense counsel.
KEITEL: I do not remember that at the moment.
Gen. RUDENKO: You do not remember?
KEITEL: Not the one that was presented yesterday.
Gen. RUDENKO: All right. If you do not remember I can hand you this document in order to refresh your memory.
The PRESIDENT: What was the PS number of this document?
Gen. RUDENKO: This is the document submitted by the Soviet Prosecution as Exhibit Number USSR-16 (document number USSR-16).
The PRESIDENT: I just took down that it was USA-516, but suppose I was wrong in hearing. It is USSR-16, is it?
Gen. RUDENKO: Yes, USSR-16.
The PRESIDENT: Very well.
Gen. RUDENKO: (handing the document to the defendant). I shall interrogate you, Defendant Keitel, only an one question in connection with this order. In subparagraph 1 of this order, paragraph 3, it is stated, and I would draw your attention to the following sentence: "The troops are therefore authorized and ordered in this struggle to take any measures without restriction even against women and children, if that is necessary to achieve success." Have you found this Passage?
Gen. RUDENKO: Have you found the order calling for the application of any kind of measures you like without restriction, also against women and children?
KEITEL: "To employ without restriction any means, even against women and children, if it is necessary." I have found that.
Gen. RUDENKO: That is exactly what I am asking you about. I ask you, Defendant Keitel, Field Marshal of the former German Army, do you consider that this order is a just one, that measures may be employed at will against women and children?
KEITEL: Measures, insofar as it means that women and children were also to be removed from territories where there was partisan warfare, never atrocities or the murder of women or children. Never.
Gen. RUDENKO: To remove - a German term - means to kill?
KEITEL: No. I do not think it would ever have been necessary to tell German soldiers that they could not and must not kill women and children.
Gen. RUDENKO: You did not answer my question. Do you consider this order a just one in regard to measures against women and children or do you consider it unjust? Answer yes or no. Is it just or unjust? Explain the matter later.
KEITEL: I considered these measures to be right and as such I admit them; but not measures to kill. That was a crime.
Gen. RUDENKO: "Any kind of measures" includes murder.
KEITEL: Yes, but not of women and children.
Gen. RUDENKO: Yes, but it says here "Any kind of measures against women and children."
KEITEL: No, it does not say "any measures." It says: "…and not to shrink from taking measures against women and children." That is what it says. No German soldier or German officer ever thought of killing women and children.
Gen. RUDENKO: And in reality ..?
KEITEL: I cannot say in every individual case, since I do not know and I could not be everywhere and since I received no reports about it.
Gen. RUDENKO: But there were millions of such cases? KEITEL: I have no knowledge of that and I do not believe that it happened in millions of cases.
Gen. RUDENKO: You do not believe it?
Gen. RUDENKO: I shall proceed to another question. I shall now refer to one question, the question of the treatment of Soviet prisoners-of-war. I do not intend to examine you in regard to the branding of Soviet prisoners-of-war and other facts; they are sufficiently well -known to the Tribunal. I want to examine you in regard to one document, the report of Admiral Canaris, which we presented to you yesterday. You remember yesterday your counsel submitted to you the Canaris report; it is dated September 15, 1941 and registered under document number EC-338. As you will remember, even a German officer drew attention to the exceptional arbitrariness and lawlessness admitted in connection with the Soviet prisoners-of-war. Canaris in this report pointed to the mass murders of Soviet prisoners-of-war and spoke of the necessity of definitely eliminating this arbitrariness. Did you agree with the statements advanced by Canaris in his report, with reference to yourself?
KEITEL: I did not understand the last statement. With reference to myself?
Gen. RUDENKO: The last question amounts to this: Were you Keitel, personally in agreement with the proposals made by Canaris in his report, that the arbitrary treatment permitted should be done away with where Soviet prisoners-of-war were concerned?
KEITEL: I answered my counsel yesterday ..
Gen. RUDENKO: You can answer my question briefly; were you in agreement with it?
KEITEL: Yes, I will be brief - on receiving that letter, I immediately submitted it to the Führer, Adolf Hitler, especially on account of the enclosed publication by the Peoples' Commissars, which was dated the beginning of July, and I asked for a new decision. On the whole I shared the objections raised by Canaris, but I must supplement that…
Gen. RUDENKO: You shared them? Very well. I shall now present you with the original copy of Canaris' report, containing your decision.
Mr. President, I shall now present to the defendant the document containing his decision. This decision was not read into the record in Court and I shall also present the text of his final decision to the Tribunal.
The PRESIDENT: Do you have the original?
Gen. RUDENKO: Yes, I gave it to the defendant. And now, Witness Keitel, will you please follow?
KEITEL: I know the document with the marginal notes.
Gen. RUDENKO: Listen to me and follow the text of the decision. This is Canaris' document, which you consider a just one. The following are the contents of your decision: "These objections arise from the military conception of chival¬rous warfare. We are dealing here with the destruction of an ideology and therefore, I approve such measures and I sanc¬tion them." Signed: "Keitel." Is this your resolution?
KEITEL: Yes, I wrote that after it had been submitted to the Führer for decision. I wrote it then.
Gen. RUDENKO: It is not written there that the Führer said so; it is said 'I sanction them" -meaning Keitel.
KEITEL: And I state this an oath; and I said it even before I read it.
Gen. RUDENKO: This means that you acknowledge the decision. I will now draw your attention to another passage of this document. I draw your attention to Page 2. Please observe that the text of Canaris' report mentions the following: "The separation of civilians and prisoners-of-war who are politically undesirable, and decision to be made in regard to their fate, is to be effected by task forces (Einsatzkommando) belonging to the Security police and the SD in accordance with directives not known to the Wehrmacht establishments and whose execution cannot be checked by the latter."
Canaris writes this, your decision, Defendant Keitel, is written in the margin. It says, "Highly expedient." Is that correct?
KEITEL: Please repeat the last question. The last words I heard were "Canaris writes."
Gen. RUDENKO: Yes, and I am now mentioning the fact that your decision "Highly expedient" appears in the margin opposite that paragraph, and written by your own hand. Have you found this?
KEITEL: Yes. The word "expedient" refers to the fact that the army offices had nothing to do with these Einsatzkommandos and know nothing about them. It states that they are not known to the Wehrmacht.
Gen. RUDENKO: And furthermore it refers to the fact that the Security police and the SD should wreak vengeance on civilians and prisoners-of-war? You consider that expedient?
KEITEL: No, I thought it expedient that the activities of these Kommandos be unknown to the Armed Forces. That is what I meant. That appears here and I underlined "unknown." Gen. RUDENKO: I am asking you, Defendant Keitel, known Field Marshal and one who, before this Tribunal, has repeated referred to yourself as a soldier, whether you, in your own bloodthirsty decision of September 1941, confirmed and sanctioned the murder of the unarmed soldiers whom you had captured? Is that right?
KEITEL: I signed both decrees and I, therefore, bear the responsibility within the sphere of my office; I assume the responsibility.
Gen. RUDENKO: That is quite clear. In this connection I would like to ask you, since you have repeatedly mentioned it before the Tribunal, about the duty of a soldier. I want to ask you: Is it in accordance with the concept of a "soldier's duty" and the "honor of an officer" to promulgate such orders for reprisals against prisoners-of-war and an peaceful citizens?
KEITEL: Yes, as far as the reprisals of August and September are concerned, in view of what happened to German prisoners war whom we found in the field of battle, and in Lvov where we found them murdered by the hundreds.
Gen. RUDENKO: Defendant Keitel, do you again wish to follow the path to which you resorted once before, and revive the question of the alleged butchery of German prisoners-of-war? You and I agreed yesterday that as far back as May 1941, prior to the beginning of the war, you had signed a directive on the shooting of political and military workers in the Red Army. I have some…
KEITEL: Yes, I also signed the orders before the war but they did not contain the word "murder."
Gen. RUDENKO: I am not going to argue with you since this means arguing against documents; and documents speak for themselves. I have a few last questions to ask you: You informed the Tribunal that the generals of the German Army were only blindly carrying out Hitler's orders?
KEITEL: I have stated that I do not know if any generals raised objections or who they were, and I said that it did not happen in my presence when Hitler proclaimed the principles of the ideological war and ordered them to be put into practice.
Gen. RUDENKO: And do you know that the generals, an the own initiative, promulgated orders on atrocities and on the violation of the laws and customs of war, and that these orders were approved by Hitler?
KEITEL: I know that high authorities in the Army issued order altering, modifying, and even cancelling in part; for instance, as regards jurisdiction, the March decree and other measures, because they also discussed it with me.
Gen. RUDENKO: You do not understand me. I did not ask about modifications, but whether the generals, on their own initiative ever promulgated orders inciting to the violation of the laws on customs of war.
KEITEL: I do not know of that. I do not know what order you are referring to, General. At the moment I cannot say that I know that.
Gen. RUDENKO: I shall refer to one order only. What I have in mind is Generalfeldmarschall Von Reichenau's order governing the conduct of troops in the East.
This document, Mr. President, was presented by the Soviet Prosecution as Exhibit Number USSR-12 (document number USSR-12). The passages to which I refer are underlined in this document, and I shall read into the record one quotation from this order governing the conduct of troops in the East: "Feeding the inhabitants and prisoners-of-war .. is .. a mis¬taken humanity.."
KEITEL: I know the order. It was shown to me during a preliminary interrogation.
Gen. RUDENKO: This order, issued on Von Reichenau's initiative and approved by Hitler, was distributed as a model order among all the army commanders.
KEITEL: I did not know that; I heard about it here for the first time. To my knowledge I never saw the order either.
Gen. RUDENKO: Of course you would, quite obviously, consider such orders as entirely insignificant. After all, could the fate of Soviet prisoners-of-war and of the civilian population be of any possible interest to the Chief of the OKW, since their lives were of no value whatsoever?
KEITEL: I had no contact with the commanders at the front and had no official connection with them. The Commander-in-Chief of the Army was the only one who had.
Gen. RUDENKO: I am finishing your cross-examination. When testifying before the Tribunal you very often referred, as did you accomplices, the Defendants Göring and Ribbentrop, to the Treaty of Versailles, and I am asking you, were Vienna, Prague, Belgrad and the Crimea part of Germany before the Treaty of Versailles?
Gen. RUDENKO: You stated here that in 1944, after the law had been amended, you received an offer to join the Nazi Party? You accepted this offer, presented your personal credentials to the leadership of the Party, and paid your membership fees. Tell us, did not your acceptance to join the membership of the Nazi Par signify that you were in agreement with the program, objectives and methods of the Party?
KEITEL: As I had already been in possession of the Golden Party Badge for three or four years, I thought that this request for my personal particulars was only a formal registration and I paid the required Party membership subscription. I did both these things and have admitted doing them.
Gen. RUDENKO: In other words, before this formal offer was ever made, you already, de facto, considered yourself a member of the Nazi Party?
KEITEL: I have always thought of myself as a soldier; not a political soldier or politician.
Gen. RUDENKO: Should we not conclude, after all that has been said here, that you were a Hitler general, not because duty called you but on account of your own convictions?
KEITEL: I have stated here that I was a loyal and obedient soldier of my Führer. And I do not think that there are generals in Russia who do not give Marshal Stalin implicit obedience.
Gen. RUDENKO: I have exhausted all my questions.

Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: (Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the U.K.): Defendant, do you remember on the 2nd of October 1945 writing a letter to Colonel Amen, explaining your position? It was after your interrogations and in your own time you wrote a letter explaining your point of view. Do you remember that?
KEITEL: Yes, I think I did write a letter; but I no longer remember the contents. It referred to the interrogations, however.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes.
KEITEL: And I think it contained a request that I be given a further opportunity of thinking things over, as the questions put to me took me by surprise and I was often unable to remember the answers.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: I want to remind you of one passage and ask you whether it correctly expresses your view: "In carrying out these thankless and difficult tasks, I had to fulfill my duty under the hardest exigencies of war, often acting against the inner voice of my conscience and against my own convictions. The fulfillment of urgent tasks assigned by Hitler, to whom I was directly responsible, demanded com¬plete self-abnegation." Do you remember, that?
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, now, I just want you tell the Tribunal, what were the worst matters in your view in which you often acted against the inner voice of your conscience. Just tell us some of the worst matters in which you acted against the inner voice of your conscience.
KEITEL: I found myself in such a situation quite frequently but the decisive questions which conflicted most violently with my conscience and my convictions were those which were contrary to the training which I had undergone during my 37 years as officer in the German Army. That was a blow at my most Intimate personal principles.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: I wanted it to come from you, Defendant. Can you tell the Tribunal the three worst things you had to do which were against the inner voice of your conscience. What do you pick out as the three worst things you had to do?
KEITEL: Perhaps, to start with the last, the orders given for the conduct of the war in the East, insofar as they were contrary to the acknowledged usage of war; then something which particularly concerns the British Delegation, the question of the 50 R.A.F officers, the question which weighed particularly heavy on my mind that of the terror-fliers and, worst of all, the Nacht und Nebel decree and the actual consequences it entailed at a later stage and about which I did not know. Those were the worst struggles which I had with myself.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: We will take the Nacht und Nebel. My Lord, this document and a good many to which I shall refer are in the British Document book number 7, Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl, and it occurs on Page 279. It is L-90, Exhibit USA-50.
(Turning to the defendant.) Defendant, I will give you the German document book. It is 279 of the British document book and 289 ..
KEITEL: Number 731?
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: It is Page 289. I do not know which volume it is; Part 2, I think it is. You see, the purpose of the decree is set out a few lines from the start, where they say that in all cases where the death penalty is not pronounced and not carried out within a week, ".. the accused are in the future to be deported to Germany secretly and further proceedings in connection with the offenses will take place here. The deterrent effect of these measures lies in: (a) the complete disappearance of the accused and (b) the fact that no Information may be given as to their whereabouts or their fate." Both these purposes, you will agree, were extremely cruel and brutal, were they not?
KEITEL: I said both at the time and yesterday, that I personally thought that to deport individuals secretly was very much more cruel than to impose a sentence of death. I have …
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Would you turn to Page 281 - 291 of yours - 281 of the English Book?
KEITEL: Yes, I have it.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: You say that this is your covering letter: "The Führer is of the opinion:" - Line 4 -" in the case of offenses such as these, punishment by imprisonment, or even penal servitude for life, will be considered a sign of weak¬ness. Effective and lasting intimidation can only be achieved either by capital punishment, or by measures which keep the culprit's relatives and the population generally uncertain as to his fate."
You will agree that there again these sentences of the Führer which you are here transmitting were cruel and brutal, were they not?
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, what I..
KEITEL: May I add something?
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Certainly, as shortly as you can.
KEITEL: I made a statement yesterday on this subject and drew your attention particularly to the words: "It is the Führer's long considered will," which were intended to convey to the generals who were receiving these orders what was written between the lines.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: But, you know, Defendant, this that was by no means the end of this series of orders, was it? This order was unsuccessful despite its cruelty and brutality in achieving its purpose, was it not? This order, the Nacht und Nebel order, that form was unsuccessful in achieving its purpose; it did not stop what it was designed to stop? Is that right?
KEITEL: No, it did not cease.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: So that in 1944 you had to make a still more severe order. Would you look at Document D-762? My Lord, that will become Exhibit GB-298. (Turning to the defendant). It says: "The constant increase in acts of terror and sabotage in the occupied territories, committed more and more by bands under unified leadership, compels us to take the sternest countermeasures in a degree corresponding to the ferocity of the war which is forced upon us. Those who attack us from the rear at the crisis of our fight for existence deserve no consideration.
I therefore order: "All acts of violence committed by non-German civilians in the occupied territories against the German Wehrmacht, the SS or the police, or against installations used by them, are to be combated in the following manner as acts of terrorism and sabotage:" (1) - "The troops,"- the SS and so on -"are to fight down on the spot .. all terrorists and saboteurs." (2)¬"Those who are apprehended later are to be handed over the nearest local Security police and the SD office." (3)-"Ac¬complices, especially women, who take no active part in the fighting, are to be employed as labor. Children are to be spared."
Now, would you Look at Paragraph II:
"The Chief of the OKW will issue the necessary executive in¬structions. He is entitled to make alterations and additions as far as required by the exigencies of war operations."
Did you think that was a cruel and severe order or not?
KEITEL: Yes, I do think so, but may I make one small correction? It must have been incorrectly translated. The actual wording is "Women are to be employed as labor. Children are to be spared." So it says in the original version which I have before me.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: I said "spared." "Spared" meant that they were not to be treated thus. I was careful to mention that.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, you had authority to make alterations and additions. Did you, by your alterations and additions attempt to mitigate the severity of that order in any way?
KEITEL: I have no recollection of having issued any additional orders to mitigate its severity. I may also say that I never would have issued anything without first presenting it to the Führer.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Just let us see what you did issue. Would you look at document D-764, which will be Exhibit GB-299?
Now, that is your executive order, countersigned I think by Senior Military Judge, putting forward your order based on that decree and would you Look at Paragraphs 4 and 5:
"All legal proceedings now going on in connection with acts of terrorism, sabotage, or other crimes committed by non-Ger¬man civilians in the occupied territories which imperil the security or readiness for action of the occupying power are to be suspended. Indictments are to be dropped. Sentences already pronounced are not to be carried out. The culprits are to be handed over with a report on the proceedings to the nearest local Security police and SD Office. In the case of death sentences which have already become final, the regula¬tions now in force will continue to apply. Crimes affecting German interests but which do not imperil the security or readiness for action of the occupying power do not justify the retention of jurisdiction over non-German civilians in the occupied territories. I authorize the com¬manders of the occupied territories to draw up new regulations in agreement with the Higher SS and the police Leader." And then you ask them to consider them among the first, one handing them over to the SD for forced labor.
That was certainly not mitigation of the order, was it? You were not making it any easier.
KEITEL: There are a few sentences to be added here. This arose out of the daily discussion of these matters which I dealt with later on the same lines as the first decree. I made suitable annotations and signed them.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, now, that is what you called terrorism and sabotage. Let us look at what happened to people who were guilty of something less than terrorism or sabotage, look at Document D-763. That will be GB-300. "Non-Germ civilians.. "
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: "Non-German civilians in the occupied territories who endanger the security or tactical preparedness of the occupying power otherwise than through acts of terrorism and Sabotage, are to be handed over to the SD. Section I, Number 3. . " - that is the part that says women will be employed on labor and children will be spared – "of the Führer's order also applies to them." Well, you knew perfectly well what would happen to anyone who was handed over to the SD, that he would probably be killed, certainly be put into a concentration camp, did you not?
KEITEL: I did not Interpret it that way; the words "to be allocated on labor" were always used; but it has become clear to me from what I have learned that, they frequently ended up in the concentration camp. However, it was always described to us, to me, as a labor camp, That was the description, "labor camps of the Gestapo."
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: But this is August 1944. You will agree that that is a most severe course to take with people who have been guilty of something less than terrorism or sabotage, do you not?
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, let us. .
KEITEL: I assume that you do not wish me to discuss this origin and development here. Otherwise I could explain them; but I will merely answer the questions. The answer is, yes, it was a very severe measure. The explanation, if I may state it very briefly, is that, as is known, during the interminable daily situation reports on the incidents in all the occupied territories, I received from the Führer instructions and orders which were afterwards crystallized in a form similar to this document and I think I have already described in detail the way in which I discussed these things with him and how I worked, that on principle I never issued or signed anything which did not agree in principle with his wishes.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: That was severe enough for you for only 3 weeks, was it not, because on September 4, which is barely 3 weeks later, you issued another order, document D-766 Exhibit GB-301. Now, this was issued, as it shows, as an agreement with Himmler, Kaltenbrunner, the Reichsjustizminister and Dr. Lammers. Now look at it:
"Non-German civilians in occupied territories who have been sentenced by German Courts for a criminal act against the security or tactical preparedness of the occupying power, the sentence having become final, and who are in custody in the occupied territories or in the home front area, are to be handed over, together with a report on the facts, to the nearest local Security police and SD office. An exception is made only in the case of those sentenced to death for whom the execution of the penalty has been ordered.
"II. Persons 'convicted of criminal acts against the Reich or the occupying power and prohibited, in accordance with the directives .. issued by the Führer for the prosecution of such acts, from intercourse with the outside world, are to be given a distinguishing mark."
Now, had you any idea how many people would be affected by that order?
KEITEL: No, I cannot say anything about that. I know only that it was made necessary by the increasing tension in the occupied territories, due to lack of troops to keep order. Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, let me remind you. You called a conference to consider this matter. That is shown in Document D-765, and I also show you D-767, the report of the conference You need not worry about 765, which just says that there is to be a conference, but in Document D-767, which will be Exhibit GB-300 there is a report of the conference. The second paragraph says: "The Reichsführer-SS Himmler demands in his letter the immediate surrender to the SD of approximately 24,000 non¬ German civilians who are under arrest or held for interroga¬tion." Now listen to this: "No answer was given to the question raised during the discussion as to why they must be surrendered to the SD at the present moment, in spite of the considerable amount of administrative work involved." Can you give any answer now as to why 24,000 people who had been sentenced should be transferred to the tender mercies of the SD?
KEITEL: May I read this note? I do not know it; may I read now, please?
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Certainly. You will see that I did not trouble you with it all, but it says what I had already put to you earlier, that the Nacht und Nebel Decree had become superfluous as a result of the terror and sabotage decree, and that the Wehrmacht Legal Department had presented these things for discussion.
Now, can you give us any answer as to why these 24,000 unfortunate persons who had been sentenced should be handed over the tender mercies of the SD?
KEITEL: I must say that I am surprised by the whole incident. I did not attend the conference, and apparently I did not read the note since, as a matter of principle, I always marked every document which had been presented to me with my initial. I am not acquainted with the figures quoted; this is the first time I have seen them; I am not acquainted with them and I do not remember them, unless another order was .. .
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: I will give you something which you have read.
KEITEL: As regards the facts about which you ask, I must answer in the affirmative. I do not know the figures, only the facts.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: And you cannot answer my question. You cannot give us any reason as to why the Wehrmacht and these other offices were sending the 24,000 people, who had been sentenced by ordinary courts, over to the SD? You cannot give any reason for that?
KEITEL: No; I may say that up to a point I can. I think SD a misinterpretation. I think police custody was meant. That does not mean the same thing.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Certainly not.
KEITEL: I do not know if it might have been the same thing.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Surely you have been at this Trial too long to think that handing people over to the SD means police custody. It usually means a concentration camp and a gas chamber, does it not? That is what it meant in fact, whether you knew it or not.
KEITEL: I did not know it, but it obviously led to the concentration camp in the end. I consider it possible; in any case, I cannot say that it was not.
The PRESIDENT: Sir David, the last paragraph but one refers to the OKW.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes, My Lord, I am just coming to that. (Turning to the defendant). If you will notice that, Defendant two paragraphs below the one I put to you it states: "As the OKW is not particularly interested in trying the minor matters still remaining for the military tribunals, they are to be settled by decrees to be agreed upon by local authorities."
It is quite clear that your office was deeply concerned in this business, was it not, Defendant?
KEITEL: I do not know exactly what it means, but it was obviously mentioned at that conference.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, before I put the next document, I want you to realize how we have been going. We started with the Nacht und Nebel decree, which disappeared, and we went on to the terror and sabotage decree. We then proceeded to acts which were less than terror and sabotage, but were criminal acts under the rules of the occupying power.
I now want you to consider what was done to people who simply refused to work. Would you look at Document D-769? That is Exhibit GB-304. That is a telegram from Luftwaffe General Chris¬tiansen, who was in the Netherlands, Commander of the Air Forces in the Netherlands, through his Chief of Staff. Now listen to this: "Owing to railway strike, all communications in Holland at standstill. Railway personnel does not respond to appeals to resume work. Demands for motor vehicles and other means of transport for moving troops and maintaining supplies are no longer obeyed by the civil population. According to the Führer's decree of 18 August 1944 - that is the terror and sabotage decree; which you have already had - and the sup¬plementary executive instructions of the Chief of the OKW which we have already seen - "troops may use weapons only against persons who commit acts of violence as terrorists or saboteurs, whereas persons who endanger the security or tac¬tical preparedness of the occupying power in any other way than by terrorism or acts of sabotage, are to be handed over to the SD."
Then General Christiansen comes in with this:
"This regulation has proved too complicated and therefore ineffective. Above all, we do not possess the necessary police forces. The troops must again receive authority to shoot also, with or without summary court martial, persons who are not terrorists or saboteurs in the sense of the Führer's decree, but who endanger the fighting forces by passive resistance. It is requested that the Führer's decree be altered accordingly, as the troops cannot otherwise assert themselves effectively against the population, which in its turn, appears to endanger the conduct of operations."
Now, Defendant, will you agree that shooting, with or even without trial, railway men who will not work, is about as brutal and cruel a measure as could well be imagined by the mind of man. Do you agree?
KEITEL: That is a cruel measure, yes.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: What was your answer to this cruel measure?
KEITEL: I cannot say. I do not recollect the incident at all but perhaps the answer is there.
Sir David MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, look at document D-770, which is, I think, your answer; it is Exhibit GB-305. You will notice on the distribution list that that goes to the Commander of the Armed Fortes in the Netherlands and further to the signal which we have just been looking at. Now, you say: "According to the Führer's order of July 30, 1944, non-German civilians in the occupied territories who attack us in the rear in the crisis of our battle for existence deserve no consider¬ation. This must be our guiding principle in the Interpretation and application of the Führer's decree itself and the Chief of the OKW's executive decree of August 18, 1944.
"If the military Situation and the state of communications make it impossible to hand them over to the SD, other effec¬tive measures are to be taken ruthlessly and independently. There is, naturally - and I ask you to note the word "naturally" - "no objection to passing and executing death sentences by summary court-martial under such circum¬stances."
I can not remember, Defendant, whether you have ever had a independent command yourself or not. Have you? Have you had a independent command, apart from your division? I think that was the last independent command you had. You have not had an independent command yourself, have you? Do I make myself clear?
KEITEL: I did not understand. What do you mean by "independent"?


concentration camp
Closed camp where people are being held captive that are considered to be anti- social, enemies of the state, criminal or unwanted individuals. These groups mostly do not get a fair trial or are condemned to doing time in a camp.
Military unit, usually consisting of one upto four regiments and usually making up a corps. In theory a division consists of 10,000 to 20,000 men.
Largest Soviet ground formation. It was attached to a certain area which gave its name to the units involved. For instance the Voronezh front.
German word for leader. During his reign of power Adolf Hitler was Führer of Nazi Germany.
“Geheime Staatspolizei”. Secret state police, the secret police in the Third Reich.
A collection of principles and ideas of a certain system.
German air force.
Highest military rank, Army commander.
Abbreviation of a national socialist.
“Oberkommando der Wehrmacht”. German supreme command of the Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Navy.
railway strike
This was announced on the radio and complied with by the Dutch railway staff on 17 September 1944. The railway strike was intended to support the allied plan Operation Market Garden. After the allied airborne landings had failed, Dutch railway staff remained on strike until the liberation.
Red Army
Army of the Soviet Union.
Resistance against the enemy. Often also with armed resources.
Union of socialistic Soviet republics also called the Soviet Union. Federation of republics during Russia’s communist period from Russia.
German armed military forces, divided in ground forces, air force and navy.

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