IMT testimony of Erich von Manstein

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IMT testimony of Erich von Manstein

Post by David Thompson » 07 Aug 2004 18:56

On 9-10 Aug 1946, Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein testified as a defense witness for the German General Staff, which was accused of being a criminal organization in the International Military Tribunal proceedings at Nuernberg. The General Staff was acquitted by the IMT. Von Manstein, however, was put on trial by a British military tribunal and convicted of hostage killings, murders under the Commissar Order (Kommissarbefehl), mistreatment of POWs, allowing deportations for slave labor purposes and acting in disregard of his duty to ensure public safety and respect individual life. On 19 Dec 1949 the British court sentenced von Manstein to 18 years imprisonment. Here is a biographical sketch of von Manstein, followed by his IMT testimony. The testimony can be found in vol. 20 of the IMT proceedings, available on-line at The Avalon Project of the School of Law at Yale University, at:

von Manstein, Friedrich Erich von Lewinski gennant (1887-1973) [Generalfeldmarschall] -- WWI service as officer; company commander in 5th Infantry Regiment Oct 1921-Sept 1923; staff officer, 2nd Division Oct 1923-Sept 1924; staff officer, 4th Division Oct 1924-Sept 1927; staff officer with Infantry Commander in Military District IV (Infanterieführer, Wehrkreis IV) Oct 1927-Aug 1929; staff officer in Reich Defense Ministry Sept 1929-Sept 1932; commander, II Battalion 4th Infantry Regiment Oct 1932-Jan 1934; staff officer, 3rd Division Feb 1934-Jun 1935; department chief in Army General Staff Jul 1935-Oct 1936; First Quartermaster (Oberquartiermeister I) in Army General Staff Oct 1936-Feb 1938; commander, 18th Division Feb 1938-Aug 1939; chief of staff, Army Group South 18 Aug-Oct 1939; chief of staff, Army Group A 26 Oct 1939-Feb 1940; commander, XXXVIII Army Corps 1 Feb 1940-Mar 1941; commander, LVI Panzer Corps Mar-Sept 1941; commander, 11th Army 15 Sept 1941-22 Nov 1942; commander, Army Group Don 22 Nov 1942-Jan 1943; commander, Army Group South Jan 1943-31 Mar 1944 [Knights Cross 1940; Oakleaves 1943; Swords 1944] {arrested by British security police 31 Aug 1945 and interned (LT 1 Sept 1945:4:g); to be freed by British authorities (NYT 16 Jul 1948:10:4); released from internment in Norfolk (NYT 23 Jul 1948:2:6); to face war crimes indictment (NYT 28 Aug 1948:4:6; NYT 12 Sept 1948:30:1; NYT 23 Sept 1948:5:5; NYT 3 Nov 1948:32:6; 23 Jan 1949:2:4); delay announced (NYT 20 Mar 1949:3:6; NYT 20 May 1949:2:3); impending trial announced 25 May 1949 (NYT 26 May 1949:8:7; NYT 3 Jun 1949:3:1; NYT 17 Jul 1949:25:2; NYT 24 Jul 1949:26:6; NYT 17 Aug 1949:16:5; NYT 23 Aug 1949:13:1; LT 6 May 1949:4g; LT 25 May 1949:3g; LT 26 May 1949:3f; LT 23 Jul 1949:3d); put on trial before a British military tribunal 23 Aug 1949 on war crimes charges (NYT 24 Aug 1949:4:6; NYT 25 Aug 1949:7:5; NYT 26 Aug 1949:10:4; NYT 30 Aug 1949:14:6; NYT 31 Aug 1949:12:4; NYT 22 Sept 1949:9:2; NYT 11 Nov 1949:5:2; NYT 17 Dec 1949:6:5; LT 10 Aug 1949:3d; LT 23 Aug 1949:3e; LT 24 Aug 1949:4g; LT 25 Aug 1949:4c; LT 26 Aug 1949:4e; LT 27 Aug 1949:4f; LT 30 Aug 1949:3c; LT 31 Aug 1949:3b; LT 3 Sept 1949:3d; LT 6 Sept 1949:3e; LT 7 Sept 1949:3c; LT 8 Sept 1949:3e; LT 13 Sept 1949:3e; LT 14 Sept 1949:3e; LT 6 Oct 1949:3e; LT 7 Oct 1949:3d; LT 8 Oct 1949:3e; LT 22 Oct 1949:3d; LT 25 Oct 1949:3d; LT 26 Oct 1949:3c; LT 27 Oct 1949:4d; LT 1 Nov 1949:3d; LT 2 Nov 1949:3d; LT 8 Nov 1949:3c; LT 11 Nov 1949:4f; LT 23 Nov 1949:3c; LT 13 Dec 1949:3e; LT 14 Dec 1949:3d; LT 15 Dec 1949:3c; LT 16 Dec 1949:3d); convicted of hostage killings, murders under the Commissar Order (Kommissarbefehl), mistreatment of POWs, allowing deportations for slave labor purposes and acting in disregard of his duty to ensure public safety and respect individual life; sentenced to 18 years imprisonment 19 Dec 1949 (NYT 20 Dec 1949:1:2; NYT 21 Dec 1949:12:3; LT 20 Dec 1949:4c; LT 21 Dec 1949:3d); commuted 24 Feb 1950 by British Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Keightley, commander of the Army of the Rhine, to 12 years in prison (NYT 25 Feb 1950:4:6; LT 25 Feb 1950:3c); allowed brief parole Feb 1952 (LT 27 Feb 1952:4a); allowed medical parole Aug 1952; released 7 May 1953 (NYT 8 May 1953:5:4); died at Irschenhausen 10 Jun 1973 (ABR-H) or 12 Jun 1973. (Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals vol. X p. 55; Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression VI, pps. 624-634 [Document 3739-PS]; ABR-H; Who's Who 203-5; Encyclopedia of the Third Reich pps. 571-2).}

DR. LATERNSER: As my second witness I am going to call Field Marshal Von Manstein.

[The witness Von Manstein took the stand.]

THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your, full name, please?

VON MANSTEIN: Erich von Manstein.

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.]

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

DR. LATERNSER: Field Marshal, what was the last position you held?

VON MANSTEIN: My last appointment was Commander-in-Chief of Army Group South.

DR. LATERNSER: How did you get that position?

VON MANSTEIN: I was given that position in November 1942 on the strength of an order from Hitler.

DR. LATERNSER: The other commanders-in-chief were appointed in a similar way, were they not?


DR. LATERNSER: For many years you have held important positions in the General Staff. In which capacity?

VON. MANSTEIN: In the last war I was in the General Staff with the troops. Then in 1929 1 joined the Reichswehr Ministry; there I joined the First Division of the Troops Department.

DR. LATERNSER: Was the General Staff an elite body which set the standard in the Armed Forces?

VON MANSTEIN: The General Staff officers were an elite group as far as they were
selected on the basis of their tactical abilities


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and also on the strength of their character. They did not set the tone in the Army, as their views were exactly the same as the views of all other officers. As to the General Staff setting the tone in the Armed Forces, there really cannot be any question of that. The Navy did not have a General Staff. As for the Air Force, as far as I can judge, the General Staff officers may have played a smaller part than "outsiders" like Milch, Udet, and so forth, but to begin with, the Armed Forces did not have an Armed Forces General Staff. Therefore one can hardly speak of the General Staff setting the tone within the Armed Forces.

DR. LATERNSER: Did the General Staff have authoritative influence on all military plans? And was it, shall we say, the brain of the Army?

VON MANSTEIN: At its headquarters, that is, in the Reichswehr Ministry, the General Staff dealt in its various departments with the main questions as far as they concerned the direction and employment of troops. But all other matters were in the hands of the various departments or of the Army Inspectorate. These offices worked in parallel with the General Staff, and as far as matters referring to the ' troops were concerned, they were dealt, with in these departments.

DR. LATERNSER: But then surely the General Staff gave opinions?

VON MANSTEIN: The General Staff could, of course, express itself on the questions dealt with by the departments, on training and armament, for instance. But the chiefs of the other departments were on exactly the same level as the chiefs of the Troops Department, and important personnel questions, in particular, were dealt with entirely outside the General Staff.

DR. LATERNSER: Was the Chief of the General Staff the decisive adviser to Hitler, or was it the Commander-in-Chief of the Army or of the Air Force?

VON MANSTEIN: One cannot possibly say that the Chief of the General Staff was the decisive adviser of Hitler. The position of Chief of the General Staff in the Armed, Forces of the Third Reich differed entirely from the position held by the Chief of the General Staff at the time of the Kaiser. In those days the Chief of the General Staff was immediately subordinate to the Kaiser, that is to say, he could report directly to him.

In the Wehrmacht (Armed Forces) of the Third Reich on the other hand, and even of the Weimar Republic, that was entirely different. The Chief of the General Staff of the Army, for instance, was nothing else than the adviser of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army regarding matters of military leadership. Between him and


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Hitler there was, first of all, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and then, as long as we had a Minister of War, in the person of Blomberg, there was the Reich Minister of War, too. Thus, there was no question at all of the Chief of the General Staff advising Hitler. But even as regards the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, he shared his work, in peacetime at least, with the chiefs of the departments, that is to say, the Personnel Department, the Armament Department, and the Defense Department, who were all on his own level.

DR. LATERNSER: Was there a special service channel for the General Staff?

VON MANSTEIN: A special service channel for the General Staff did not exist. On the contrary, that was strictly taboo. Towards the end of the first World War something similar was developed when Ludendorff in practice had gained control of military matters and always communicated with the General Staff chiefs who were his subordinates instead of addressing himself to the commanders-in-chief themselves. This deterioration, as I might call it, of military leadership was radically done away with by Generaloberst Von Seeckt, and a special service channel for the General Staff as is meant here therefore did not exist.

DR. LATERNSER: And what about the privilege of recording varying opinions?

VON MANSTEIN: In the old Army, every chief of the General Staff had the right, if he was of an opinion that differed from that of his commander, to record that dissenting opinion, although, of course, he had to carry out the order of his commander. In the Armed Forces of the Third Reich, on the other hand, that was expressly discontinued with the agreement of the Chief of the General Staff, General Beck.

DR. LATERNSER: Was the High Command of the Armed Forces, shall we say, the central brain of the Armed Forces?

VON MANSTEIN: The High Command of the Armed Forces, of course, in the form in which it is now being mentioned, only came into being in 1938 as a working staff for Hitler. Before that Blomberg was Reich Minister of War, and in his position as a Minister he held a position which dealt with all matters affecting the Armed Forces, which he represented to both State and Party. In his hands, too, was the distribution of funds for the various branches of the Armed Forces as well as the rearmament capacity for the Armed Forces. Gradually, no doubt, Blomberg was trying to achieve a more outstanding leadership of the Armed Forces, but in that connection he soon got into considerable difficulties, particularly with the High Command of the Army, for the reason that in the opinion of the


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High Command of the Army Blomberg was too lenient with the Party. He himself then attempted to establish a sort of tactical leadership staff, which later became the Armed Forces Operations Staff. But that was still in the early stages. Then came his dismissal, and subsequently the Wehrmachtfuehrungsstab (Armed Forces Operations Staff) was created under Hitler. This, however, is not to be regarded as the head of the three General Staffs of the Armed Forces or as the dome of the structure; it was nothing else than the practical leadership staff of the Fuehrer.

DR. LATERNSER: Did the high commands of the Armed Forces branches or the General Staff nevertheless agree with the High Command of the Armed Forces in their aims?

VON MANSTEIN: Naturally the three branches of the Armed Forces were in agreement with the High Command of the Armed Forces that the national element should be kept up. Furthermore, that they were there to uphold the idea of national honor, of equality, and most of all security for Germany, which they considered to be their task. Apart from that, one can hardly speak of a unified determination. I should like to say, for instance, that the Army had one basic thought, which was that under no circumstances must Germany ever again fight a war on two fronts. The Navy, in my opinion, was always guided by the idea: never again war with England. What Goering, as the reigning head of the Air Force aimed at personally, I cannot judge. But I do not suppose that he was interested in jeopardizing the position of the Third Reich and his own position in another war.

DR. LATERNSER: And the High Command of the Armed Forces?

VON MANSTEIN: As far as the High Command of the Armed Forces is concerned, if it had a will of its own at all, it did not, in my opinion, have the possibility seriously to express that will in opposition to Hitler.

DR. LATERNSER: What was the importance of the Schlieffen Club and what were its aims?

VON MANSTEIN: The Schlieffen Club was, generally speaking, a club of elderly gentlemen who were ex-members of the General Staff. Apart from that, General Staff officers and assistants to leaders of the young Wehrmacht were in it, too. They met once a year at an annual dinner preceded by a so-called business meeting during which the treasurer's report was read; and that was about the principal business. Then, of course, the Schlieffen Club had a council of honor, which usually had to occupy itself with settling quarrels between the older members resulting from Ludendorff's attitude toward Hindenburg.


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We younger ones did not go to those discussions any more; and apart from that we were not subject to this council of honor. Any political or military aims on the part of this club did not exist and at all events, it cannot be considered a club where intellectual schooling or training was being carried on, taking the place of the General Staff.

DR. LATERNSER: What were the relations between the 129 military leaders affected and the High Command of the Armed Forces and the General Staff?

VON MANSTEIN: The bulk of them, according to their position, had no relationship to them at all.

DR. LATERNSER: A little more slowly, Field Marshal.

VON MANSTEIN: Only four of them belonged to the High Command of the Armed Forces, these are Keitel, Jodl, Warlimont and Winter; and only the Chiefs of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe and of the Army belonged to the General Staff, although they were changed frequently. I think there are five of each of the Armed Forces branches. All the others belonged neither to the General Staff nor to the High Command of the Armed Forces.

DR. LATERNSER: But what else are these military leaders?

VON MANSTEIN: They are the holders of the highest positions in the military hierarchy, as they are in every country.

DR. LATERNSER: Did not these military leaders, according to, their views, represent an entity with a uniform will?

VON MANSTEIN: Naturally, as far as the conception of their work was concerned, they agreed; that is a matter of course. Also they agreed regarding the view of the necessity of Germany's being strong because she was surrounded by three neighbors from whom one might, after all, expect one thing or another. Over and above that, however, such a uniformity of thought cannot be spoken of. I might say that, horizontally considered, the three branches of the Armed Forces were on the same level; and each branch had different military ideas and aims which were quite often at cross purposes. Considered vertically, these 129 officers in the military hierarchy were classified in four grades, let us say, governed by the relationship of superiors to subordinates. The highest grade was the Fuehrer and his working staff, the High Command of the Armed Forces. On that level rested the entire military and political responsibility which, according to military principles, can only be assumed by the highest leader.

The second grade consisted of the three commanders-in-chief of the branches of the Armed Forces. They were responsible for the military tasks of that branch of the Armed Forces which, was under


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their command. On the level of command, they, of course, had full responsibility. They were, naturally, to a certain extent Hitler's advisers too, if he asked their advice in military matters.

Grade 3, which, in the persons of the 129 officers, only existed in war, comprised the commanders of army groups, and then, below that, Grade 4, the commanders of armies. The commanders of army groups were responsible for the leadership of the operations which they were to carry out. The same measure of responsibility for their armies was in the hands of the army commanders below them, who also exercised territorial authority in their operational areas. But this third and fourth grade had no contact. Let us say, there was no mental nexus with Hitler, with the Fuehrer, because the grade of the commanders-in-chief intervened. They received orders and had to obey them, as in all phases of military life the relationship is that of one who gives orders and one who carries them out.

DR. LATERNSER: How could anyone, within the measure of this responsibility which you have just described, have the possibility of expressing his views on Hitler's plans?

VON MANSTEIN: To state one's view about Hitler's plans was quite out of the question for the third and fourth grades, because they would only learn of them when they appeared in the shape of an order. If in individual cases the commanders-in-chief were called to a conference with Hitler, then it was only to hear the announcement of some unalterable decision already arrived at. The commanders-in-chief of the Armed Forces branches could, of course, when previously asked by Hitler, of which I cannot judge individual instances, state their views, their opinions. How far they might have succeeded in that is entirely another question.

DR. LATERNSER: Now, did not nearly all of these military leaders come from the General Staff, and was it not for that reason that these leaders formed an entity?

VON MANSTEIN: Certainly, a certain part of these leaders did come from the General Staff. In the case of the Army, of the 94 Army officers who are supposed to belong to the so-called organization, 74 had been General Staff officers; 20 on the other hand were not. With the Air Force, there were, as far as I know, only 9 out of 17 ex-members of the General Staff; and the Navy, of course, did not have any at all. Uniformity, let us say, as far as it existed at all, was therefore due to the fact that they had the same military training, the same military courses in the General Staff, but no more.

DR. LATERNSER: So that the conceptions of High Command of the Armed Forces and General Staff on one hand, and these 129 officers on the other, were entirely different?


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VON MANSTEIN: Yes, of course they are quite different. They were mainly the military leaders, and not the General Staff and not the High Command of the Armed Forces; and you can neither ideally, nor materially, nor practically, nor theoretically call them one unified organization.

DR. LATERNSER: Were there not certain SS leaders amongst that group? Was not the SS the fourth branch of the Armed Forces?

VON MANSTEIN: No, it certainly was not a fourth branch of the Armed Forces. Certainly a large number of the reasonable leaders of the Waffen-SS, and during the war the mass of the Waffen-SS units wished to be incorporated into the Army. But, naturally, considering the opposing will of the Fuehrer and of Himmler, it was not to be thought of.
The units of the Waffen-SS fought during the war very bravely as our comrades at the front; but they were not the fourth branch of the Armed Forces. Quite the contrary, Himmler prohibited everything which could have exerted any influence on the SS by the Armed Forces. That individual leaders of the SS were incorporated amongst the group must be described as grotesque, considering Himmler's personality; because if there ever was a mortal enemy of the Army, it was Himmler.

DR. LATERNSER: Why do you say Himmler was a mortal enemy of the Army?

VON MANSTEIN: There is no doubt whatever that Himmler wanted to replace the Army by his SS; and in my opinion the generals of the Army were particularly persecuted by him with hatred and Ebel. I know that in my case, at any rate, according to an entirely reliable source, my discharge was largely due to Himmler's intrigues, especially his malicious libel. As far as the other leaders are concerned, I know only that some of them had formerly been in the Reichswehr and had been discharged, so that they were not exactly favorably disposed toward us and did not feel they belonged to us; that is pretty clear.

DR. LATERNSER: But did not the Party and the Armed Forces work together on one plan in the interests of the Reich?

VON MANSTEIN: The Party was working in the political field; and we were working in the soldier's sphere. There can be no talk of a common plan of the Party and the Armed Forces because the prerequisites for it were missing. First of all, the most important requirement, a common basic attitude, was lacking. With many methods of the Party, as is known, we did not agree at all; and if there is no agreement even on such basic questions as, for instance, Christianity, one can say only that the intellectual basis for a common plan is obviously missing.


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The second reason against it was the Party's claim for total power, which again and again attempted to influence the Armed Forces, and I can safely say that we officers were fighting a continuous battle against the influences of the Party which sought to win over our soldiers, and thus remove the soldierly element which we represented.

Then the third reason is that under Hitler any planning would have been out of the question. If anyone made a plan, it was Hitler alone, and no one under him was allowed to make plans; people just had to obey. Quite apart from that, in the political and practical life of the Third Reich one branch never knew what the other was doing, or what its orders were, so that here too, there was no kind of uniformity. There was, therefore, a lack of all the necessary prerequisites for such a uniform plan.

DR. LATERNSER: What was your capacity in the General Staff of the Army?

VON MANSTEIN: In the General Staff, that is to say, at the very center, I was from 1929 to 1932 employed as senior General Staff officer, in the First Division of the Troops Department. Then in 1935 1 became the chief of the Operations Department of the Army, and in 1936 1 became Oberquartiermeister I, that is to say, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Army.

DR. LATERNSER: Did the Operations Department come under your command as Oberquartiermeister I?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, the Operations Department came under my orders. So did the Organization Department and various others.

DR. LATERNSER: So that you as chief of the Operations Department would have had to deal with the employment of troops in the event of war?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, of course.

DR. LATERNSER: But then you must have been informed about the aim and the degree of armament?


DR. LATERNSER: Please be very brief.

VON MANSTEIN: The goal of our armament, first of all, in the twenties, in the years before the seizure of power, was the most elementary security against an unprovoked attack on the part of any one of our neighbors. After all, since all our neighbors had certain designs on German territories, we had to reckon with such a possibility at all times. We were perfectly aware of the fact that at best we could stand up to such an attack for a few weeks only. But we did want to achieve that at any rate, so as to prevent a fait accompli, for instance, in the event of an attack by Poland by the


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occupation of Upper Silesia. We wanted to make sure we could put up a fight until the League of Nations would intervene. Practically speaking, we were relying upon the League of Nations, and we could do so only if we ourselves could in no circumstances whatsoever be called the aggressors. At all times, therefore, we had to avoid everything which might be considered a violation of the Treaty of Versailles, or a provocation. For that reason we in the First Division of the Troops Department had formed a special group of officers who had the sole duty, whenever the High Command of the Army, or at that time the Army General Headquarters, were issuing orders, to make sure that no such violations would result from them.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you have plans for a mobilization at the time when you were Oberquartiermeister I?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes. We had the very first mobilization plan, which became effective on I April 1930; it concerned the transformation of the 100,000-man Army to a war footing. That mobilization plan was then brought up to date annually after 1930.

DR. LATERNSER: And before that time?

VON MANSTEIN: Until then there was no mobilization plan at all.

DR. LATERNSER: Were there plans for strategic concentrations?

VON MANSTEIN: Plans for strategic concentrations did not exist at all from the end of the first World War until 1935. In 1935 the first strategic concentration plan was worked out; it was the so-called "Red" concentration, which was a defensive "forming-up" along the Rhine, that is along our Western frontier, with defensive "forming-up" at the Czech and Polish borders at the same time. And then a second concentration plan, called "Green," was worked upon in 1937, that ...

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, by "forming-up" do you mean deployment? What do you call, a forming-up plan? You mean deployment?

VON MANSTEIN: By a "forming-up" or "concentration plan" I understand a plan according to which troops, in the event of a threatening of war, are got ready along the frontiers, that is to say, a plan for the event of threatening political conflagration. Whether it may lead to war or whether from this formation one would enter into a war has actually nothing to do with the concentration plan. It merely states how the troops are to be assembled and, in the event of war, what would be the first tasks for the army groups and armies.

DR. LATERNSER: Were those all the troop concentration plans the two which you have just described?


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VON MANSTEIN: Those were the two forming-up plans which I as Deputy Chief of the General Staff had been engaged in. The concentration plan "White," which was against Poland, was not worked out during my time. It must have been worked on in 1939.

DR. LATERNSER: When did you cease to be Oberquartiermeister I at the High Command of the Army?

VON MANSTEIN: I left on 4 February 1938, at the same time when General Von Fritsch was removed.

DR. LATERNSER: And at that time the plan for concentration against Poland was not yet in existence?

VON MANSTEIN: No. Only the concentration plan "Red" existed, which was a defensive measure along the Polish frontier in the event of war.

DR. LATERNSER: What was the attitude of the High Command of the Army with reference to the declaration of Germany's military sovereignty in 1935? At that time you were still in the High Command of the Army, were you not?

VON MANSTEIN: In 1935 - no, I was still chief of the General Staff at the headquarters of Wehrkreis III (Military Area Number 3) when military sovereignty was declared. But from my knowledge of the General Staff I know that that declaration completely surprised all of us at the time. I personally, and my commanding general in Berlin, only heard of it over the radio. The General Staff, had it been asked, would have proposed 21 divisions as the size of an Army increase which we would have considered suitable and feasible from a practical point of view. The figure of 36 divisions was due to a spontaneous decision made by Hitler.

DR. LATERNSER: Was the occupation of the Rhineland demanded by the military, and was it intended as a preparation for war?

VON MANSTEIN: No. We did not demand the military occupation, and above all we did not intend it to be a preparation for war. On the contrary, at the time the occupation was carried -out, I was the chief of the Operations Department, and I myself had to draft the orders for that occupation. Since we were completely surprised by the decision of the Fuehrer, I had only one afternoon in which to do it, because the following morning the generals concerned came to receive their orders. I know that at that time the Reich Minister of War and General Von Fritsch stated their objections, and warned Hitler against such a one-sided solution of this question. That warning is the first source, in my opinion, for the distrust which subsequently the Fuehrer increasingly felt for the generals.
Later, at a private conference which I had with him, he himself admitted that
that was so, and particularly that Blomberg at that time, when


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France was mobilizing 13 divisions, had suggested that the three battalions which we had pushed across the Rhine to the Western bank should be withdrawn. The intentions we then had for the fortification of the Rhineland were purely defensive ones. The Siegfried Line was planned, just as was the Maginot Line, as a wall which would be as impregnable as possible in the event of attack.

DR. LATERNSER: To what extent did military leaders participate in the case of Austria? Surely you are well informed about that, Field Marshal?

VON MANSTEIN: One morning, and quite to my surprise, I was summoned to the Fuehrer, together with General Beck, the Chief of the General Staff. It was, I think, about 11 o'clock. The Commander-in-Chief of the Army was not in Berlin. Hitler revealed to us that he had decided that the Austrian question was to be settled in view of the intentions announced by Schuschnigg the day before. He demanded our suggestions for a march into Austria, should this be necessary. The Chief of the General Staff thereupon suggested explained that we should have to mobilize the corps required for this, namely the Bavarian Corps VII and XIII and a Panzer division, but that such a mobilization, in fact such a measure was in no way prepared, since the political leaders had never given us even so much as a hint of such instructions. It would be necessary, therefore, to improvise everything.

First of all, the Fuehrer did not want to agree to this mobilization, but then he realized that if he wanted to march in at all, troops would have to be mobile, and he agreed, saying that he would have to march in the following Saturday - the day before the intended plebiscite - if he wanted to march in at all. The result of it was that the order for the mobilization of these corps had to be given that very day, if the mobilization and concentration of the forces on the border were to be completed in time.

The conference started about 11 o'clock and went on until about 1 o'clock and the orders would have to be ready to go out that afternoon at 6 o'clock. They went out 20 minutes late; I had to draft the orders for this concentration myself, so that I had 4 or 5 hours altogether to do it in. Before that, no thought whatever had been given to such a thing.

The so-called Case "Otto" had nothing at all to do with this entire affair.

DR. LATERNSER: So that, as the man responsible for the working out of this order, you had just a few hours from the moment when you knew nothing until the moment the order was ready to be issued?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, that is right-about 4 or 5 hours.


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DR. LATERNSER: Did you, as the responsible Oberquartiermeister I (Deputy Chief of General Staff, Operations), responsible for war plans, know anything at all about the conference which Hitler held on 5 November 1937?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I knew nothing about it.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you participate in the conference of 10 August 1938?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser-Witness, the Tribunal would like to know what you say the plan "Otto" was for. What was the plan made for?

VON MANSTEIN: We in the Army did not have a completed plan called "Otto." I only know that that was a code word for some measures or other of the High Command of the Armed Forces, for the event of a restoration attempt on the part of the Hapsburgs in Austria, in connection with Italy. That possibility was always pending, and I want to supplement my statement by saying that at the time when Hitler gave us the orders for Austria his chief worry was not so much that there might be interference on the part of the Western Powers, but his only, worry was as to how Italy would behave, because it appeared that Italy always stuck together with Austria and the Hapsburgs.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, are you telling the Tribunal that you do not know whether the plan "Otto" was a plan for the German Army or part of it to march into Austria?

VON MANSTEIN: No, the plan "Otto" only came to my mind and became clear to me when I read the interrogation record of Jodl. In any case, a plan for a march into Austria did not exist in the High Command of the Army, because I had to prepare these orders within a few hours after the conference with Hitler.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but if the plan "Otto" was not a plan for the marching into Austria, what was it for?

VON MANSTEIN: That I cannot say because I only know that it was some sort of plan on the part of the High Command of the Armed Forces connected with an attempted restoration of the Hapsburgs in Austria, but we ourselves did not introduce any measures, as far as I can remember, nor do I know whether I myself had anything at all to do with this code name at the time; it may be so, but I do not know now.

DR. LATERNSER: Meld Marshal, you participated in the conference on 10 August 1938. What was the purpose of that conference? What was said there?



9 Aug. 46

VON MANSTEIN: That conference was something quite unusual. The Fuehrer had ordered to appear before him at the Berghof the chiefs of the General Staff of those armies which, in the event of a march into Czechoslovakia, would have to take up their positions on the border; but he did not summon the commanders-in-chief to appear as would have been natural, but only, I might say, the younger generation of chiefs. He must have known from the memorandum of General Beck and its submission by General Von Brauchitsch that the commanders-in-chief and commanding generals opposed any policy which might lead to a war and that was why he summoned us in order to convince us of the necessity and the correctness of his decision.

This was the only and last time, at a meeting of that kind, that he permitted questions and a sort of discussion afterwards. He was mistaken in this, inasmuch as even the chiefs of the General Staff raised objections regarding the possibility of an interference on the part of the Western Powers, and generally regarding the danger of a war that might ensue. This led to a very serious and most unpleasant clash between the Fuehrer and General Von Wietersheim with reference to these questions. After that, whenever such meetings took place, there was not a single occasion when any questions at all, or discussions, were permitted by him.

DR. LATERNSER:, Were the operations in Austria and the Sudetenland to be considered military rehearsals for a war?

VON MANSTEIN: No, that they certainly were not, because not only were our troops not fully mobilized, but the mobilization of the corps on the occasion of the march into Austria also demonstrated to us in any case that matters had not yet reached the stage where a reasonably satisfactory mobilization could be effected. If a war had broken out, neither our Western border nor our Polish frontier could really have been effectively defended by us, and there is no doubt whatsoever that had Czechoslovakia defended herself, we would have been held up by her fortifications, for we did not have the means to break through. It cannot therefore be called a military rehearsal. But it was a matter of testing the political nervous system.

DR.LATERNSER: When you were informed of the military preparations against Poland, did you have the impression that an aggressive war was intended?

VON MANSTEIN: I was chosen for the position of chief of the General Staff of Army Group South in the mobilization plan for the Polish campaign. When I received the plans for the concentration, I realized that it was really a strategic concentration for an attack, but there were various very essential points which militated against any aggressive gesture.


9 Aug. 46.

The first one was that in the spring of 1939 and, by order of the Fuehrer, a sudden start was made with the erection of the strongest; fortifications along all the Eastern border. Not only thousands of workers, but entire divisions were employed there to build these fortifications, and the entire material from the Czech fortification was transported there and built in. A broad strip of the most fertile land in Silesia was taken up by these fortifications, and that, of course, would indicate anything but an aggressive intention.

The second point which was against it was the fact that training continued on an entirely peacetime basis. I myself - I was a divisional commander in peacetime - remained with my division at the training camp in Lusatia, far away, therefore, from that part of the country where my division would have to be drawn up.

Besides, we knew of Chamberlain's speech in the House of Commons, in which he assured the Poles of Britain's assistance, and since Hitler on every occasion during the time I was in the High Command of the Army repeated the statement that he would never enter into a war on two fronts, one could not possibly think that, in view of that promise, he would indulge in such an adventurous policy. On the other hand, however, we had the most reliable information - which was confirmed by subsequent facts - that the Poles were proposing to concentrate their troops in Poznania for an offensive towards Berlin.
We completely failed to, understand this gesture in view of the entire situation, but in fact that was the way the Poles drew up their troops at a later stage. The eventuality of war might well be envisaged, therefore, and it was most likely, since the Poles could look to Britain for assistance; and if the political negotiations should teach a crisis, the Poles might on their part be reckless enough to attack, since they were already forming-up offensively, and then, of course, a war would have been inevitable.

Considering all these signs, one could hardly assume that Hitler would, so to speak, pick a quarrel with Poland to unleash an aggressive war against her. The conference at Obersalzberg, for instance, on 22 August, did not give me the impression either that war was bound to come, an impression that was neither mine nor that of Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Von Rundstedt until the night from 31 August to 1 September, since an
order to march in had been withdrawn on the 25th.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

[The Tribunal adjourned until 10 August 1946 at 1000 hours.]


Two Hundreth Day
Saturday; 10 August 1946

Morning Session

[The witness Von Manstein resumed the stand.]

DR. LATERNSER: Field Marshal, how did you judge the intention to attack in the West?

VON MANSTEIN: In my opinion, since a political agreement with the Western Powers by peaceful means was no longer possible, there was no other way out than to launch an offensive in the West and thus end the war.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you participate in the preparations against Norway, Greece, and Yugoslavia?

VON MANSTEIN: No. I learned about these campaigns, or that they had started, only over the radio.

DR. LATERNSER: How did you, as a military leader, regard the war against Russia?

VON MANSTEIN: I considered the war against Russia to be a preventive war on our part. In my opinion, there was for Hitler no other way out of the situation into which he had brought Germany, after he had not dared to risk the invasion of England in the autumn of 1940. In my opinion, we were forced to acknowledge that the Soviet Union was a very great threat in 1940 and 1941 - a threat which would become real as soon as we finally tied up our forces in the fight against England. The only chance of extricating ourselves from that situation would have been a landing in England in the autumn of 1940, but that was a risk which Hitler did not take.

DR. LATERNSER: How is it possible that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Chief of the General Staff of the Army, in the most important military decisions, such as for instance a war against the Soviet Union, were bypassed by Hitler?

VON MANSTEIN: In my opinion that can be explained as follows: Politically we generals had not had any say for a long time, because the political objections raised by the generals, for instance on the occasion of the occupation of the Rhineland and the march into Czechoslovakia, had turned out to be without substance. Hitler had carried his point. He no longer concerned himself with political objections but only with military questions.


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With regard to military matters, I was personally of the opinion, as I have just said, that the offensive in the West, from the point of view of the soldier, was an imperative necessity. The High Command of the Army was of a different opinion, and in this, to my thinking, they advocated the wrong military course. There again the results proved Hitler to be right, and it became apparent from his whole behavior that after that he thought that he knew more than the soldiers, so that on the decisive questions of the fight against the Soviet Union he carried his point and would no longer listen to the High, Command of the Army.

DR. LATERNSER: You received the Commissar Order, did you not?


DR. LATERNSER: What attitude did you adopt with reference to that order?

VON MANSTEIN: It was the first time I found myself involved in a conflict between my soldierly conceptions and my duty to obey. Actually I ought to have obeyed, but I said to myself that as a soldier I could not possibly co-operate in a thing like that, and I told the commander of the army group under which I came at the time, as well as the commander of the armored group, that I would not carry out such an order, which was against the honor of a soldier. In practice, the order was not carried out. My divisional commanders, who had already received the order independently from me in the Reich, shared my view and, apart from that, the commissars, as good fighters, defended themselves to the last and in many cases shot themselves before being taken prisoner, or they removed their insignia of rank and could not be identified by the troops. The troops, who inwardly disliked the order intensely, certainly did not look for commissars amongst the prisoners.

DR. LATERNSER: You have just mentioned the commander of your army group and the commander of the armored group. Who were these generals?

VON MANSTEIN: The commander of the army group was Field Marshal Von Leeb, and commanding the armored group was Generaloberst Hoeppner.

DR. LATERNSER: And what was their attitude to this order?

VON MANSTEIN: Field Marshal Von Leeb, as my superior, took cognizance of my report that I would not carry out the order, in other words, he tacitly approved. Generaloberst Hoeppner who, with another general commanding an armored group, called Reinhardt, also raised objection, promised that he would transmit the


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objections to the High Command of the Army. However, he was not successful.

DR. LATERNSER: How did you reconcile your disobedience in this case with your conception of the military duty to obey?

VON MANSTEIN: In itself military obedience is, of course, unconditional, indivisible, but during wars there have always been cases where higher military leaders did not obey an order or carried it out differently. That is part of the higher responsibility which a high military leader bears. No army leader can be expected to join a battle when he knows he is bound to lose. In these questions, that is to say, operational questions, there is in practice in the final analysis a certain right to deviate from orders given, which, however, must be confirmed by success. In the German Army particularly that independence of lower-ranking leaders has always been strongly emphasized. The situation is quite different in the case of orders which deal with actions on the part of all soldiers. In such cases, disobedience on the part of a small man can be dealt with by means of punishment. If the higher leader, however, has disobeyed orders in such cases, then he undermines not only his own authority but discipline as a whole, and thereby endangers military success. In such cases it is more binding on the higher leader than it is on the soldier and the lower-ranking leader, because he, the higher man, should be an example.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you not undermine discipline by this disobedience of yours?

VON MANSTEIN: No, not in that case, because the troops felt the same as I did. In other words, the soldierly feelings which we had instilled into our troops opposed the political will imposed upon them by Hitler. Apart from that, we were able to refer to the order issued by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army to the effect that the maintenance of the discipline of the men should take preference over everything else.

DR. LATERNSER: How was the military jurisdiction exercised on the basis of the order from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army according to which discipline was to be strictly observed?

VON MANSTEIN: We exercised military jurisdiction as we had to do according to our training, in other words, according to right and law and as decent soldiers.
I should like to quote as an example that the first two death sentences with which I had to deal were imposed at the beginning of the Russian campaign on two German soldiers in my corps for the rape of Russian women, and it was the same everywhere.


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DR. LATERNSER: Now let us turn to another chapter. What can you say about the treatment of prisoners of war?

VON MANSTEIN: With reference to the treatment of prisoners of war, as far as it came under our jurisdiction, I must say first of all that basically we as soldiers respected every brave enemy, and secondly, that we knew very well from the first World War that any maltreatment of enemy prisoners of war would finally have repercussions upon our own soldiers. As a matter of principle, therefore, we treated prisoners of war in the manner which we had been taught as soldiers, and as we were bound to do in accordance with the laws of warfare.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you yourself ever have knowledge of a violation, and did you ever take any action against wrong treatment?

VON MANSTEIN: Let me say first of all that I have seen many prisoner-oil-war columns on the march. In these columns I have never seen a prisoner of war who had been shot. But on one occasion, when I was commander-in-chief of the army group, I saw a German soldier hitting a prisoner with a stick in order to clear the way for my motor car which was trying to pass the column. I at once stopped and took the man's name, and on the following day I had his commanding officer appear before me and ordered him to punish the man, and I told him personally that the next time he himself would face a court-martial if he permitted such excesses amongst his troops.

DR. LATERNSER: Can you give any explanation for the mass casualties amongst Russian prisoners of war during that first winter?

VON MANSTEIN: My army too had huge numbers of prisoners later on, up to 150,000, and it is of course always difficult to provide suddenly the necessary food and accommodation for such large numbers. As far as my army was concerned, we managed to do that. We gave permission to the population, for instance, to bring food into the camps for the prisoners and thus ease the situation. During the large battles of encirclement in 1941 which took place within the Army Group Center and near Kiev, where the prisoners ran into many hundreds of thousands, the situation was different. When the Russian soldiers came out of the encircled areas in which they had held out to the last, they were already half-starved, and in this case, an army with its transportation space cannot possibly bring with it the means to feed 500,000 prisoners at once, and accommodate them in Central Russia. After all, the same conditions arose in Germany after the capitulation, when hundreds of thousands of soldiers spent weeks in the open and could not be fed properly either.


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DR. LATERNSER: To what extent were the commanders-in-chief responsible for prisoners of war?

VON MANSTEIN: We were responsible for prisoners of war as long as they were in the area of our armies, that is to say, until they were handed over to transit camps.

DR. LATERNSER: So that was an entirely temporary state of affairs?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, unless prisoners of war were employed in our army area.

DR. LATERNSER: In cases where the prisoners remained with the army, how were they treated?

VON MANSTEIN: Those prisoners whom we retained in our army areas were required to help in the work we had to do, and for that reason they were, of course, decently treated. After all, every division had about 1,000 - sometimes more - prisoners whom we employed as so-called auxiliary volunteers, that is, voluntary helpers. These auxiliary volunteers remained faithful to us and even came along during our retreats, and that certainly would not have been the case if we had treated them badly. I should like to quote another example. When I became Commander-in-Chief of Army Group South I was accompanied only by my own personal staff and had no guard, and for about 8 or 10 days I had only Cossack guards in my house. If we had treated the prisoners badly, they would certainly have killed me.

DR. LATERNSER: Now, in regard to prisoners of war in the Reich, to whom were the camp commanders responsible?

VON MANSTEIN: As far as I know, the camp commanders within the army districts came under a general for prisoners of war, and he in turn was under the Commander of the Reserve Army.

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Post by David Thompson » 07 Aug 2004 19:01

Part 2:
DR. LATERNSER: Who was the Commander of the Reserve Army?

VON MANSTEIN: The Commander of the Reserve Army was, until 1944, Generaloberst Fromm, and after 20 July, it was Himmler.

DR. LATERNSER: Did not the Prisoners of War Organization come under Himmler in 1944?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, I do not know the exact date, but I do know that all prisoners of war were expressly put under Himmler.

DR. LATERNSER: Was large-scale destruction carried out within the areas of your army or army group?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, in the Ukraine particularly, there were very considerable destructions, but we encountered these already when we got there in 1941. All railways had been destroyed, so


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that in 1943 the waterworks, for instance, were not yet working at full capacity. All communication installations and offices had been destroyed; many industrial plants had been destroyed; for instance, the large dam of Saporoshe, the cement works at Kharkov, the large iron works at Kerch and Mariupol, and the oil industry at Maikop in the Caucasus.

DR. LATERNSER: Were there any special reasons why the devastation in the last war was so great? To what must that be attributed?

VON MANSTEIN: The reason why destruction in the last war was far greater than destruction in previous wars is due to the tactics employed in this last war. In 1941 Stalin, quite lightly from his point of view, ordered his army to fight for every foot of ground. Hitler adopted the same system, and if you force armies to fight to the last for every foot of ground, the villages and the towns are bound to go up in flames and become heaps of rubble. Take, as an example, Sevastopol, which was used as a fortress for 8 months, and finally the town itself was defended. Take Stalingrad, where for weeks one house after another was fought for. Rostov and Kharkov were taken twice by our armies and twice by the Soviet armies during heavy battle. Kiev and Rovno were taken once, and Odessa was taken by the Romanian armies during a battle which lasted for weeks. It was inevitable that these towns should be half destroyed in that fighting.

DR. LATERNSER: And was there not planned destruction too?

VON MANSTEIN: In 1943, during the retreat beyond the Dnieper, I myself saw that planned destruction to a, considerable extent had been carried out by order of Hitler. Hitler had ordered that the territories east of the Dnieper should be made useless for the Russians. There were several detailed orders from him to this effect.

DR. LATERNSER: Was this destruction necessary for the carrying on of the war?

VON MANSTEIN: As far as this retreat beyond the Dnieper is concerned I have to answer that question absolutely in the affirmative. The situation was such that if we could not bring the Soviet armies to a halt at the Dnieper and if they were able to continue their break-through and their advance, the war was lost.

The Dnieper had not been fortified. Hitler had forbidden it when we had proposed it earlier. The work had only just begun. There were not sufficient troops to hold the Dnieper line against a heavy attack. If, therefore, the Russian attack could not be halted on account of disrupted Russian lines of supply, it could be assumed that in the autumn of 1943 the fighting in the southern part of the Eastern


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Front would be decided, and the war in the East would end unfavorably for us. In such cases only the highest leaders could in the last analysis decide what would be achieved operationally by military necessity. The lower leader lacks the ability to judge; he can only see the necessities of his sector and therefore he cannot have the right to reject such decisions.

DR. LATERNSER: But these orders regarding the destruction were carried out in various ways?

VON MANSTEIN: Certainly. Probably every army leader tried to keep this destruction within as small a compass as possible, particularly in the Ukraine where we soldiers were on excellent terms with the population. That, after all, is the problem of the individual leader, whether or not he decides that his operational goal can be achieved with a minimum of destruction. It was different, for instance, when it came to the destruction of billets. In the East in, winter fighting depended to a very considerable extent on whether the troops could find some kind of shelter for the night, In the winter the destruction of billets could be absolutely decisive. In the summer, of course, it was not important.

DR.LATERNSER: What do you know about the destruction of churches and cultural monuments?

VON MANSTEIN: I can only say that in my areas cultural monuments were spared. A large number of these - in the Crimea, on the southern coast, for instance - were already destroyed when we arrived, but we carefully preserved the Livardia palace, for example, and then the Tartar castle in Baktshisarai. I was once before Leningrad with my army command preparing an attack, which, however, was not carried out. There I saw several Czarist palaces, Oranienbaum and others. They were destroyed, but they were within the range of Russian artillery, and I myself was under artillery fire while making this visit. The palaces were burned out, and they were certainly not burned by our troops according to plan.

DR. LATERNSER; Now, a few questions with reference to the partisan warfare. Did you get to know that the aim of partisan warfare was to exterminate the Jews and Slavs?


DR. LATERNSER: Did you give or receive any orders to the effect that no prisoners were to be taken during partisan fighting?


DR. LATERNSER: At that time what did you imagine would happen when a person was handed over to the SD?

VON MANSTEIN: It was our impression that first of all the SD would interrogate such a person and then probably send him to some camp. We also had to turn over to the SD German soldiers


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who were sentenced for desertion, because during the war there was a regulation that long terms of imprisonment were not to be served, but that - in order to utilize their working capacity and prevent them from evading the war behind prison walls - these prisoners, and others who had been sentenced, should be sent to concentration camps for the duration of the war. Therefore, to say that the turning over of any person to the SD was equivalent to death was, as we saw it, quite wrong.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you at that time know anything about conditions in the concentration camps?

VON MANSTEIN: No. I heard as little about that as the German people, or possibly even less, because when one was fighting 1,000 kilometers away from Germany, I one naturally did not hear about such things. I knew from prewar days that there were two concentration camps, Oranienburg and Dachau, and an officer who at the invitation of the SS had visited such a camp told me that it was simply a typical collection of criminals, besides some political prisoners who, according to what he had seen, were being treated severely but correctly.

DR. LATERNSER: As a soldier of the old tradition, how do you explain the shootings with which the Prosecution has charged the German war leaders as a crime against humanity?

VON MANSTEIN: Beginning in 1941 with the Soviet campaign, this last war was, one might say, fought from two points of view. The first was the military conduct of the war which we, the soldiers, were carrying through,, and the other was - incidentally, on both sides - the ideological conduct of the war which we soldiers were not carrying out, but which was determined by other factors.

DR. LATERNSER: You said 1941?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, it is my view that the Polish war and the war in the West and the campaigns in Norway and in the Balkans were still carried out in a purely military manner as long as the fighting was going on. The other side, that is, the ideological side of the war, started, in my opinion, with the campaign against the Soviet Union, and it was then extended to the other occupied territories by those who conducted this type of war.

DR. LATERNSER: But then, who was conducting the ideological fight on the part of Germany?
VON MANSTEIN: We soldiers did not wage this ideological war. In my opinion it was waged by Hitler together with some of his closest collaborators, and a limited number of accomplices.

DR. LATERNSER: In what way was this war not conducted by soldiers?


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VON MANSTEIN: As I have said, Hitler knew perfectly well that we, with our traditional gallant conception of warfare, would not do things like that. He defined this view very clearly in the speech he made before the Western campaign, that is, after the Polish campaign, and on the basis of this point of view, in my opinion, he knowingly kept the Armed Forces out of the ideological war, and knowingly removed everything that was done from our influence or even from our knowledge.

DR. LATERNSER: By what means did Hitler remove this angle of the war from military influence?

VON MANSTEIN: He took it away from us first of all geographically, inasmuch as most of the occupied territories were removed from the influence of the commanders-in-chief; that is, he set up Reich Commissariats in the East and in the remaining countries, the spheres of the military commanders or rather national governments which were not under us commanders-in-chief. Apart from that he also took away from us the terrain in which this struggle was being fought. Geographically we were limited to the narrow operational areas, and administratively we also had very little to say with regard to them. All Police measures were taken by Himmler on his own responsibility, as set out in the well-known "Barbarossa Order." The economic exploitation was Goering's province. Sauckel was responsible for the recruitment of labor. The examination and registration of art treasures were handled by the special staff of Rosenberg. Jurisdiction over civilians had been expressly withdrawn from our military courts. In other words, all that was left to us was the directing of the fighting at the front, the security of the operational sector, the creation of a local administration, and the setting in motion of agriculture and industry.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I have had prepared a sketch regarding the division of powers, and I should like to submit it to the Tribunal when I put in my documents. It is Sketch General Staff and OKW Number 3. I should merely like to show this sketch to the witness and ask him whether the sketch is accurate, and later on I shall submit the sketch to the Tribunal with an explanation.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

DR. LATERNSER: Field Marshal, I am going to have Sketch General Staff and OKW Number 3 handed to you and I will ask you whether that sketch is accurate.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, you are showing It to the Prosecution, no doubt?


VON MANSTEIN: In my opinion, this sketch is correct. Naturally, details regarding the organization in the occupied territories,


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for instance, which came under military commanders and which changed in the course of the war, are not all indicated.

DR. LATERNSER: But these spheres do not concern the persons accused?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, that is right.

DR. LATERNSER: In which spheres was the ideological warfare waged by the others?

VON MANSTEIN: There you have to differentiate between two things: Apart from the military conduct of the war carried on by us, the soldiers, war was also waged economically; that is to say, for the economic exploitation of occupied territories for our warfare in the sense of the slogan "total war." That, in my opinion, was an innovation in international law, but it was not a crime. The second is the ideological field; that is, the special methods introduced against the population and carried out by other forces, which had nothing to do with the economic exploitation as such.

DR. LATERNSER: What do you mean by special methods?

VON MANSTEIN: By that I mean the methods of the so-called Einsatzgruppen and all the methods applied under the aegis of Himmler.

DR. LATERNSER: Were not the Commissar and Commando Orders part of that ideological fight in the military sector?

VON MANSTEIN: In my opinion the Commissar Order does come under that heading; that is the reason why we did not carry it out. But in my view, the Commando Order did not. The Commando Order was a reprisal, possibly open to argument, against a method of warfare which was new.

DR. LATERNSER: Now, let us come to the Einsatzgruppen. What did you know about the tasks given to these groups?

VON MANSTEIN: All I knew about the tasks of these Einsatzgruppen was that they were organized to prepare for the political administration; that is to say, to carry out the political screening of the population in the occupied territories of the East, and they were acting on special instructions under Himmler's responsibility.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you ever hear of the intention and the order to exterminate Jews and other sections of the population?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I never heard of that; in fact, as the witness Ohlendorf said, this order was given orally by Himmler directly to the Einsatzgruppen.

DR. LATERNSER: When you took over the command of the 11th Army, were you informed of the existence of the Einsatzgruppen?


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VON MANSTEIN: When I took over the army at Nikolaiev in September 1941, 1 was at the army headquarters for 2 or 3 days only, and I then occupied an advance battle headquarters near the front with a small part of my staff. During these 2 or 3 days I spent at Nikolaiev, the various department chiefs of the High Command reported to me on their tasks. I assume that on that occasion it was also reported to me that sections of the SD with special tasks from Himmler were in the operational zone, but at that time I had no idea of the organization and tasks of the Einsatzgruppen, as I know them today.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you personally have dealings with Ohlendorf?

VON MANSTEIN: It may be that Ohlendorf reported to me once, and as such reports were usually made towards noon, it is quite possible that I invited him to lunch. If he did visit me, then it was certainly only in the presence of my chief of staff, because anyone who did not belong to my army was only received by me in the presence of my chief of staff. I should like to add that I had already spent several weeks in prison here when one day General Westphal told me: "There is an SD Fuehrer Ohlendorf here, who maintains that he was in the Crimea." I asked Westphal to point him out to me, and I said: "I may have seen him once, but I do not know, or do not remember him." That is the only kind of contact I might have had with him.

DR. LATERNSER: The witness Ohlendorf has said that during the march he had talked with you and your chief of staff.

VON MANSTEIN: He could not have spoken to me during the march because a commander-in-chief does not march with his troops. When I changed my battle headquarters, I either went by plane or traveled by car with an orderly officer, and in that case I was not accompanied by my chief of staff, because in the event of such a change the chief of staff always remains in the old battle headquarters until the commander-in-.6hief has reached the new one, so that the directing of the army is not interrupted. Therefore it is quite out of the question that Ohlendorf could have spoken to me during the march.

DR. LATERNSER: Field Marshal, how do you explain the fact that the murder of 90,000 Jews could have escaped your attention?

VON MANSTEIN: These 90,000 Jews who were mentioned were not murdered in my zone of command. As Ohlendorf has stated, his zone reached from Cernauti, that is, from the Carpathians, to Rostov; that is approximately 1,200 kilometers long and probably from 300 to 400 kilometers broad. In this huge zone not only the 11th Army was operating, but a1so the 1st Armored Army, and


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the 3d and 4th Romanian Armies, that is to say, four armies; and these 90,000 persons who are supposed to have been murdered in the course of a year are therefore distributed over a large area, of which only a small portion was occupied by the 11th Army in the Crimea.

DR. LATERNSER: But could you have helped hearing about it if in the Crimea, for instance, several hundred Jews were murdered?

VON MANSTEIN: No, not necessarily. In that year I occupied, I think, 12 or 13 different battle headquarters, always in the fighting zone. When I was at my headquarters at Sarabus - it was a small village about 20 kilometers from the capital - only tactical reports reached me and not more than once or twice a week - or it may have been three or four times - the chief quartermaster and the army surgeon and other people like that came to see me in order to report to me on essential matters. One must also bear in mind that in our situation a commander-in-chief was completely occupied by the worries of the battle and that, quite rightly, only the essential points of other matters were reported to him.

Point two is that our troops, almost down to the last man, in the Crimea particularly, were being used in the battle at the front, and even our clerks sometimes had to be sent into battle. The entire rear area was more or less devoid of troops and only the most important supply points were manned; everything that happened outside these few points never reached the ears of the military agencies.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you never receive a report on the shooting of Jews?

VON MANSTEIN: I did not receive a report on the shooting of Jews. I once heard of a rumor.

DR. LATERNSER: And what was it about?

VON MANSTEIN: When I took over the army, which, as I said, was on the day I left Nikolaiev for my battle headquarters, it was said, without details being given, that earlier, before my time, the SS had allegedly shot and killed a few Jews, I believe it was in Bessarabia. That was a rumor about one individual case. As I was, leaving the following morning, I gave orders to my orderly officer that the leader of the SS was to be told that in the area where I was commander-in-chief I would not tolerate any such bestiality. Since it was only a rumor, and as an order of mine to investigate the truth of the matter did not produce any witnesses who had seen it, the question was therewith settled. I immediately entered into the heaviest fighting and since then I received no further reports about the shooting of Jews.

DR. LATERNSER: But the witness Ohlendorf talked about the shooting of Jews in which members of the Armed Forces were


10 Aug. 46

supposed to have participated. Your headquarters was at Simferopol, was it not?

VON MANSTEIN: No. Only the chief quartermaster department was in Simferopol. I myself was with the command department about 20 kilometers away from Simferopol. That units of my army could have participated in the shooting of Jews, I consider quite out of the question. Ohlendorf moreover also spoke of army auxiliaries, that is, Police or OT (Todt Organization), or whatever it may have been. If a unit or officer of my army had participated in anything like that, it would have meant his end.

DR. LATERNSER: The army was supposed to have received watches from the SD, which were taken from Jews who had been murdered?

VON MANSTEIN: That I do not know. The army quartermaster visited me once and reported that he had obtained a large number of watches for the army from Germany. He also showed me a watch which was fresh from the factory, a German watch.

DR. LATERNSER: What was the chain of command for Einsatzgruppen?

VON MANSTEIN: In the chain of command, particularly the military one, one must differentiate between the practical subordination, which is the chain of command for the fighting at the front, and the economic subordination, that is the chain of command for the purpose of supplies, food, motor fuel, and billets. Thirdly, subordination for military service, that is from the point of view of training, equipment, questions of personnel, and of disciplinary and legal nature. In no case was the last-mentioned military service subordination ever granted to us, not even for the units of the Waffen-SS. Economically and tactically, that is for the actual fighting, such subordination was possible. Economically, that is, on the march and with regard to accommodation and supplies, the SD was subordinate to us. The factual subordination, of which the witness Schellenberg once spoke, did not exist at all. It only existed in the case of medical officers; for instance, where a doctor of a lower rank ranged professionally under the division doctor. But we had no special Police functions and there was no question of the SD being subordinate to us in its Police tasks. As far as the chain of command for troops on the march and supplies was concerned, they were matters which the chief quartermaster dealt with. A commander-in-chief is never bothered with very small units on the march.

DR. LATERNSER: Ohlendorf has mentioned an order from the High Command of the Army according to which the shooting of Jews was to take place only at two and a half, or according to


10 Aug. 46

his other testimony, 200 kilometers from the army headquarters. Is that correct?

VON MANSTEIN: No, and such an order would be sheer nonsense. What would be the sense of a distance of two and a half kilometers from army headquarters? And 200 kilometers would have been already beyond the operational zone. At such a distance we had no right to give orders. Such an order was certainly not given by my office - at least, I never gave it.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you co-operate with the Einsatzgruppen when you were with the Armored Group. Hoeppner?

VON MANSTEIN: I was Commanding General of the First Armored Corps of the Armored Group Hoeppner. I do not remember ever having seen the SD there. During the first months of the Russian campaign I was sometimes 100 kilometers in advance of the front with the armored corps. Between myself and the German infantry armies which followed there were the retreating Russian armies. In a case like that where the Russians were following us so closely, it is completely out of the question that the SD would undertake the shooting of Jews in my sector. They would never have risked doing that. And as I have said, when I came to the front I saw no SD people.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you know Generaloberst Hoeppner?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, of course.

DR. LATERNSER: What was his attitude in regard to such deeds of violence?

VON MANSTEIN: Hoeppner was a decent, straightforward, and honest soldier. I consider it absolutely out of the question that he could have co-operated in such matters. Apart from that, his death following the 20th of July shows he was not on the side of these people.

DR.LATERNSER: Was there any tactical collaboration with the Einsatzgruppen on the part of the 11th Army?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes. From the SS, SD, or the Police, as far as I remember, we got a number of auxiliaries for combating the partisans. In the Jaila mountains of the Crimea there were at that time small inaccessible parts of the mountains where there were partisans. We could not get at them because we had no mountain troops. All we could do was to try to starve out these bands by preventing them from raiding Tartar villages and thereby maintaining their food supplies. For that reason we armed the Tartars and in order to make sure that these villages were reliable in our sense, the SD assisted us.


10 Aug. 46

THE PRESIDENT: This is going into the matter in great detail. Has it not been gone into in his evidence before the Commission? Can't you shorten it?

DR. LATERNSER: Yes, Mr. President. This brings me to my last question and, as far as I can recollect, that question was not put when the witness was before the Commission.

VON MANSTEIN: They also worked with us to discover the food depots of the partisans. We had to do this because German forces were not available and only Romanian mountain troops were occupied with these tasks.

DR. LATERNSER: Did it ever happen that sections of the SS, SD, or Einsatzgruppen, participated in this partisan fighting and then were decorated for these deeds?

VON MANSTEIN: That is quite possible, but then they were decorated for action in battle, not for the killing of Jews.

DR. LATERNSER: Now, let us come to another point. The Armed Forces have also been accused of looting in the occupied territories.

VON MANSTEIN: We had the strictest orders in the Army against looting, and rigorous action was taken against looters. The individual soldier was not allowed to requisition, but only troop units, and then only what the unit needed for the feeding of the troops within the ration allotments. On the other hand in 1943 we co-operated in bringing back goods which were especially needed by us for carrying on the war. But by an express order of mine that was limited in the Ukraine to grain, oilseeds, some small quantity of metal, and a small number of cattle which could be driven along with us. However, all this was not looting private property; it was a State requisitioning of State property.

DR. LATERNSER: Were factories dismantled by the Armed Forces?

VON MANSTEIN: The dismantling of factories, if it took place, was done on orders from the Economic Staff East, because the exploitation of industry in the occupied territories, even in the operational area, did not come under the command of the armies, but under the Economic Staff East.

DR. LATERNSER: To what extent were the military leaders concerned with the deportation of workers?

VON MANSTEIN: We merely had instructions td support the requisitioning of labor by the Reich Plenipotentiary. In general we resisted having to give up labor because we needed it ourselves for agriculture in the occupied territories.

When, during conversations with Sauckel, I told him that methods of coercion


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would make the population hostile, he said that he himself was against the use of force. I received a report that people had allegedly been rounded up by force in the Reich Commissariat. When I made inquiries, Reich Commissioner Koch told me that it was not true, that he had heard these rumors himself and had looked into the matter and found that it was all lies. I had no evidence to counter this. At any rate we limited ourselves to recruiting, and moreover, the Reich Plenipotentiary presented a regulation to me according to which foreign workers in Germany were to be treated and fid in the same way as German workers.

DR. LATERNSER: You mentioned Sauckel and Koch in this connection. Were these separate conversations, or were they both held together?

VON MANSTEIN: No, in my opinion they were different conferences. Koch once visited me with Rosenberg, and on that occasion I mentioned that I had heard of these methods of force He denied it; but Sauckel was not present.

DR. LATERNSER: And then on another occasion Sauckel visited you alone?


THE PRESIDENT: The conversation that occurred with Rosenberg, when did it occur?

VON MANSTEIN: That I cannot remember exactly.

THE PRESIDENT: Not the exact date; approximately?

VON MANSTEIN: It was in 1943. Rosenberg and Koch came to visit me. It must have been, I should think, in September or October, but try as I may I cannot give the exact date. It may have been earlier.

DR.LATERNSER: Field Marshal, why did you, as a high military leader, tolerate all these violations of international law and laws of humanity?

VON MANSTEIN: In my province, in my military province, I did not tolerate such things, and whatever happened in the ideological struggle outside of my sphere, we did not get to know about. It was taking place outside our sphere of influence and knowledge, and we had neither the power nor the right to prevent it, apart from the fact that we never knew of all the abominations which have since been disclosed.

DR.LATERNSER: Were you of the opinion that for reasons of military obedience you had to tolerate everything, or rather co-operate in everything?

VON MANSTEIN: The military duty to obey is without doubt binding and indivisible. The right or the duty to disobey I would


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say does not exist for the soldier. There may be a moral duty which would apply, for instance, in such cases as the execution of Jews. But we knew nothing about that.

DR.LATERNSER: In the case of the Commissar Order, if all the commanders-in-chief had refused, would it not have caused Hitler to amend it?

VON MANSTEIN: He would certainly not have done that. On the contrary, it would perhaps have been a desirable opportunity for him and some others to remove us. Apart from that, a flat refusal to obey in order to coerce a dictator, is an entirely useless method. Under a dictatorship, a dictator cannot permit himself to be forced, because the moment he gives way, his dictatorship ends.

DR. LATERNSER: Was it not possible to make him go back on his decisions by counterpropositions?

VON MANSTEIN: Here one must differentiate between two things; with regard to basic political decisions, the decisions for war, et cetera, we certainly had no possibility whatsoever. He announced his decision in the speeches or by means of orders, and no protest was possible.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness has been over this subject already.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you have any military influence on Hitler?

VON MANSTEIN: In questions of purely military leadership, he listened to me in certain respects. Indeed, on this question I had constant arguments with him. My written suggestions to him, or to the chief of General Staff for submission to Hitler, would fill a large volume. In decisive points of purely operational leadership I probably succeeded, generally speaking, in carrying my point. In other cases, as soon as we left the subject of military command, he cut short any discussion. On three occasions, however, I tried, in personal talks with him, to get him to alter the supreme military command, that is, in plain language, to surrender the supreme command, if not in name, at least in fact.

THE PRESIDENT: What have we got to do with this? What have we got to do with these matters which are matters of strategy? The High Command is not being accused of anything in connection with strategy.

DR. LATERNSER: Do you know, Field Marshal, whether other military leaders, too, had differences with Hitler?

VON MANSTEIN: These differences were, no doubt, very numerous. That becomes apparent from the following facts alone:


10 Aug. 46

Of 17 Field Marshals who were members of the Army, 10 were sent home during the war and 3 lost their lives as a result of 20 July. Only one Field Marshal managed to get through the war and keep his position as Field Marshal. Of 36 Generalobersten, 18 were sent home and 5 died as a result of 20 July or were dishonorably discharged. Only 3 Generalobersten survived the war in their positions.

DR. LATERNSER: Out of 36?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, out of 36. 1 believe there is no profession which can show so many who suffered for their convictions, for all these leaders were highly qualified officers, militarily speaking. They could not have been sent away because they were incapable. They were sent away because Hitler distrusted them, and also because he did not think they were severe enough in operational strategy.

DR. LATERNSER: Did the circle of men concerned with, the 20 July incident get in touch with you? The witness Gisevius has said something about that.

VON MANSTEIN: I did not realize that at the time. I once received a letter from Generaloberst Beck. It was in the winter of 1942, and he discussed the strategical situation on the basis of the experience at Stalingrad. He said that it was hardly likely that the war would come to a good end. I replied to him that I could not contradict his statement, but that one defeat was no reason to consider the war lost, and that a war was only lost if you yourself .considered it lost. I went on to say that I had so many worries on my front that I could not begin a lengthy discussion about these matters.

Now, afterwards, it has become clear to me that several other attempts to contact me were made, apparently in order to sound me out. On one occasion, General Von Gersdorff visited me and, as he told me afterwards, he had letters on him from Goerdeler, I believe, and Popitz, which he was supposed to show to me if he got the impression that I could be enlisted for a coup d'etat. As it was always my point of view, however, that the removal or the assassination of Hitler during the war would lead to chaos, he never showed me these letters. That these were supposed to be feelers is something which became clear to me only afterwards. I had never, therefore, made a promise to anyone to participate in such affairs.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you receive any personal gifts?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I did not.

DR. LATERNSER: When and for what reason were you relieved of your post?


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VON MANSTEIN: I was relieved of my post at the end of March 1944. The reason given to me by Hitler was that large-scale operations for which he needed me could no longer be carried out and that it was merely a question now of holding out stubbornly and for that a new man would have to be put in my position. I never believed that this was the true reason. The true reason was without doubt that he mistrusted me too. After all, he was the revolutionary and I was the old Prussian officer. Then too, as the chief of the General Staff, General Zeitzler, told me at the time, there was a continuous campaign of hatred against me on the part of Himmler, and all manner of statements were made, namely, that a Christian like myself could not be loyal; and it is certain, too, that other elements joined in this campaign.

DR. LATERNSER: I shall now come to my last question, Field Marshal. What can you say to the accusation by the Prosecution that the military leadership should be declared criminal?

VON MANSTEIN: I have been a soldier for 40 years. I come from a family of soldiers and I have grown up with military conceptions. The example from among my nearest relatives which I had before me was Hindenburg. We young officers naturally considered the glory of war as something great, and I do not wish to deny that I was proud when during this war an army was entrusted to me. But our ideal, and that applies to my comrades too, did not lie in the conduct of war, but in the education of our youth to be honorable men and decent soldiers. Under our orders these youths went to their death by the million.

And if I may say something personal: My eldest son died as a lieutenant in the infantry, when he was 19; two of my brothers-in-law, who grew up in my house, died as young officers; my best comrades in this war, my young adjutant and my young chauffeur, were killed. Nearly all the sons of my brothers and sisters were killed. That we, the old soldiers, should have led into war for a criminal purpose that youth of ours which was so dear to us, would far exceed any wickedness of which man could be thought capable. It is possible that a man without a family and without tradition, who is obsessed with fanatical belief in a higher mission, may go beyond the limits of human law, but we, the old soldiers, purely from a human point of view, would not have been able to do so. We could not lead our youth into crime.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions, Mr. President.

[A recess was taken.]


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DR. GAWLIK (Counsel for the SD): Witness, you have repeatedly mentioned the SD.
What is your conception of the SD?

VON MANSTEIN: What I understand by the SD is an institution within the framework of the SS, which came under Himmler and had special Police tasks.

DR. GAWLIK: Then if I now tell you that here the Departments III and IV of the Reich Security Main Office are being indicted under SD, then, I ask you, did you understand that those organizations came under SD?

VON MANSTEIN: The conception of the SD is only known to me as it was probably known to most Germans, that is to say, as some sort of special Police. I do not know what departments in the Reich Security Main Office belonged to it, because the organization and tasks of the Reich Security Main Office are unknown to me.

DR. GAWLIK: Then as a former commander-in-chief you do not know either which departments in the Reich Security Main Office dealt with Police tasks?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I have no idea of that, nor did it ever interest me.

DR. GAWLIK: Can you answer the question with "yes" or "no," whether by SD you meant Departments III and IV?


DR. GAWLIK: Your defense counsel and you yourself have talked here about the Einsatzgruppen of the SD. Was that designation correct, or what were these Einsatzgruppen called?

VON MANSTEIN: The name Einsatzgruppen was made clear to me only here. Previously, during the time I was a commander-in-chief, I only knew that Higher SS and Police Leaders existed, and that sections of the SD had been given the special task of screening the population. Let me say, therefore, that the conception of the term Einsatzgruppen as it presents itself now, only became perfectly clear to me here.

DR. GAWLIK: But as a former commander-in-chief you must have known the correct designation of these Einsatzgruppen.

VON MANSTEIN: It may be that I already knew the name Einsatzgruppe. But I never thought of it as anything special. I merely, considered it to be a part of the SD, which was under Himmler and which had been given special tasks.

DR. GAWLIK: Did you not know that these Einsatzgruppen were called Einsatzgruppen A, B, C, and D?


10 Aug. 46

VON MANSTEIN: No. I had never heard of Einsatzgruppen A, B, or C, and whether the Einsatzgruppe which worked in my territory was called "D" or not, I cannot say today. It may be or it may not be. I just do not know.

DR. GAWLIK: You did not know either what title Ohlendorf had?

VON MANSTEIN: Ohlendorf? I cannot tell you whether he was an SS Gruppenfuehrer or SS Oberfuehrer.

DR. GAWLIK: No, I do not mean that. I mean what title he had as the leader of Einsatzgruppe D.

VON MANSTEIN: No, I do not know that even today.

DR. GAWLIK: Did you not know that his title was Deputy to the Chief of the Security Police and of the SD with Army Group D?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I did not know that, because an Army Group D did not exist at the time, as far as I know.

DR. GAWLIK: Or that this was his title in the armies?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I did not know that.

DR. GAWLIK: Thank you.

COL. TAYLOR: Witness, did you leave the General Staff of the OKH in February of 1938?

VON MANSTEIN: May I ask you to repeat the question? I am afraid I did not understand.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you leave the General Staff of the OKH in February 1938?

VON MANSTEIN: Whether I was a member of the OKH? Yes.

COL. TAYLOR: What was your rank when you left the OKH General Staff in 1938?

VON MANSTEIN: I was a major general.

COL. TAYLOR: That is the lowest grade of general in the German Army, is it not?


COL. TAYLOR: And after you left the General Staff of the OKH, you became a divisional commander?


COL. TAYLOR: And you were a divisional commander at the time of the occupation of the Sudetenland, were you not?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes. My position in the service at that time was divisional commander, but when the Sudetenland was occupied, I was temporarily chief of the General Staff of that army which marched in from Bavaria.


10 Aug. 46

COL. TAYLOR: And you were still a divisional commander when the rest of Czechoslovakia was occupied, were you not?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, indeed.

COL. TAYLOR: And you were still a divisional commander while the attack upon Poland was being planned?


COL. TAYLOR: Where was your division situated?

VON MANSTEIN: My division was in Lower Silesia and the division headquarters was in Liegnitz.

COL. TAYLOR: So that you personally were not very close to the OKH planning from February 1938 until the outbreak of the war?

VON MANSTEIN: No; I was in the High Command 6f the Army only up to the Anschluss in Austria, because I had to remain in the High Command of the Army for a time in order to hand over the affairs to my successor, General Halder.

COL. TAYLOR: Now, you were engaged in the war against the Soviet Union from the very beginning, were you not, beginning in June 1941?


COL.TAYLOR: And did you take command of the German 11th Army after the death of General Von Schobert?


COL.TAYLOR: And that was about the middle of September of 1941?

VON MANSTEIN: I believe I took over the command on 21 or 22 September.

COL.TAYLOR: And during 1941 and the first part of 1942 the 11th Army which you commanded was fighting at the extreme southern end of the front, was it not?


COL.TAYLOR: That is in the region north of the Black Sea?


COL.TAYLOR: And the 11th Army had captured Nikolaievsk just before you took command?


COL.TAYLOR: And your headquarters, when you took command, were at Nikolaievsk?



10 Aug. 46

COL. TAYLOR: Now, is it true that you have just been testifying that Hitler had some very particular ideas concerning the methods by which warfare on the Eastern Front should be carried out?


COL. TAYLOR: Hitler thought that the occupied Russian territories could best be subdued and pacified by the widespread use of terror, did he not?

VON MANSTEIN: At the time that was by no means clear to me. It was only during the Trial that I learned that.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you not receive an order from the OKW that terroristic means were to be used to keep order in the occupied territories?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I could not, in my opinion, receive any order from the OKW for my army. And I have no recollection of an order to use terroristic methods, either.

COL. TAYLOR: An order issued by the OKW could reach you through proper channels through the OKH, could it not?


COL. TAYLOR: Will you please look at the document which is being handed to you?
Your Lordship, that will be 459-PS, and the exhibit number will be USA-926. [Turning to the witness.7 You will see from the heading on the document that it was issued by the OKW on 23 July 1941.

VON MANSTEIN: Yes. But that, in my opinion, is a decision of the OKW, because the heading says, "The Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces." That is the OKW.

COL. TAYLOR: Yes, I stated that. This is a document issued by the OKW.

DR. LATERNSER: I beg to apologize, but I shall have to interrupt here. I ask that a German copy be submitted to the witness. I gathered from his reply that he is quoting the English text.

COL. TAYLOR: The witness has a German copy, I am told.

PRESIDENT: Have you got a German copy?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes. A German copy is underneath.

COL. TAYLOR: I would like to read this document to you and ask you a question about it.
"On 22 July, the Fuehrer, after receiving the C.-in-C. of the Army, issued the following orders with a view to supplementing and enlarging Directive Number 33.

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And now, Witness, will you turn to Paragraph 6, please, the last paragraph, Paragraph 6? Do you find it?


"In view of the vast size of the conquered territories in the East, the forces available for establishing security in these areas will be sufficient only if instead of punishing resistance by sentencing the guilty in a court of law, the occupying forces spread such terror as is likely, by its mere existence, to crush every will to resist amongst the population.

"The commanders concerned, together with all available troops, should be made responsible for maintaining peace within their areas. The commanders must find the means of keeping order within their areas, not by demanding more security forces, but by applying suitable drastic measures."

Signed by the Defendant Keitel

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Post by David Thompson » 07 Aug 2004 19:08

Part 3 (final):
Did such an order never reach you, Witness?

VON MANSTEIN: I cannot remember the order. After all, it was issued long before I became commander-in-chief and naturally not every order that was issued before I became commander was submitted to me. At any rate, I cannot recollect it.

COL. TAYLOR: At the time this order was issued, you were a corps commander, weren't you?


COL. TAYLOR: Isn't it plain on the face of this order that it could only be carried out by wide distribution to troops and the leaders of all the formations?

VON MANSTEIN: No, not necessarily. After all, the order contains directives for the Southeastern Front, the Central Eastern Front, the Northeastern Front, the Navy, and the Air Force, and also for security in the rear areas of the conquered territory. At that time I was a long way from the front with my armored corps; actually, in July I was west of lake Ilmen, where I was cut off and surrounded for a time. It is quite impossible that an order would be sent to me concerning the entire front; if it was done at all then I would have received only an extract referring to my area. But here the orders under Figure 6 are concerned with the security of the rear areas, and the armored corps which was far ahead of the front line of the infantry army had nothing to do with these matters.

COL. TAYLOR: The order plainly is meant to apply generally over the entire front, isn't it?


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VON MANSTEIN: Yes, Number 6 naturally applies to the entire front. But an armored corps which is ahead of the front and which is continuously engaged in battle with enemy forces has nothing to do with these measures; and even if the order had been dispatched to me, it does not by any means signify that it would have reached me. As a matter of fact I just remember that in July when I was cut off, a very considerable portion of our baggage-train from headquarters, including very important documents, fell into enemy hands. Therefore, try as I may, I cannot remember having received this order. In fact, I do not believe it was dispatched to the corps at all.

COL. TAYLOR: If an army commander received this order, he could only carry it out by distributing it down to his lower formations; isn't that right? That's the only way he could carry it out?

VON MANSTEIN: He did not necessarily have to distribute it, because Figure 6 mentioned conquered territories, that is to say, rear areas; and the armored group which I came under, which had only two armored corps in the foremost front line, would not necessarily need to transmit this order to the corps because the group itself had to secure its small rear area without the two corps, and in fact it did so.

COL. TAYLOR: So assuming you were cut off at the time and never got this order at the time it was issued, didn't any of your fellow generals in the other areas in the Prussian military tradition ever speak to you about this order and indicate they had received it?

VON MANSTEIN: Not one of them discussed the order with me. Only very rarely can a commander-in-chief talk to other commanders-in-chief. Whether they received the order, that I really could not tell you.

COL. TAYLOR: We'll pass from that document. Now, Hitler regarded the war on the Eastern Front as ideological war and race conquest, didn't he?


COL. TAYLOR: And he wanted not only to conquer the Soviet Army but also to wipe out the Soviet political system, isn't that true?

VON MANSTEIN: No doubt he wanted the production system of the Soviet Union in the occupied territories to be used for the conduct of our war.

COL. TAYLOR: And he wanted to set up a new political system in the areas which the Army had captured?

VON MANSTEIN: I do not understand what you mean by "a new system." What are you referring to?


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COL. TAYLOR: A political system of political administration.

VON MANSTEIN: Naturally, the occupied territories must have some sort of an administration.

COL. TAYLOR: He wanted an administration which would be very different from the type of administration under the Soviet Government, didn't he?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, since the National Socialist system was different from the Soviet system in certain respects, it was necessary for him to attempt to establish the administration accordingly.

COL. TAYLOR: Now, in order to set up a new political administration, an administration that would operate peaceably so that the territory could be exploited, Hitler was very anxious to stamp out those parts of the population - those elements in the population - who would oppose his aims, wasn't he?

VON MANSTEIN: I do not know whether that was clear from the start. At any rate, he never told the military leaders of the plan.

COL. TAYLOR: In order to help in carrying out these plans didn't the OKW issue several orders to the commanding generals that were quite extraordinary? I refer among other things to the Commissar Order that you have mentioned.

VON MANSTEIN: The Commissar Order, after all, only affected the removal of those Soviet elements who, shall we say, were supposed to carry the war beyond the military into the ideological sphere and to urge their troops to fight to the death. That has nothing to do with the extermination of portions of the population -- at the most it was the removal of a certain class of followers of the enemy forces who were considered to be more politicians than soldiers.

COL. TAYLOR: I refer also to Hitler's well-known order of 13 May 1941, which restricted the use of courts-martial in cases where German soldiers had committed crimes against the civilian population. Wasn't that part of this same plan?

VON MANSTEIN: Certainly if such a plan did exist, then it was part of this plan. But we did not follow that plan. As I said, by order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army we employed our legal system in order to punish the excesses in the interest of discipline. I have already mentioned to you the example of the two death sentences in my corps.

COL. TAYLOR: Well, in fact, Witness, were not these views of Hitler and the purpose of these orders very well known to you and the other commanding generals on the Eastern Front?


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VON MANSTEIN: No, we did not know that this order had a further purpose, for instance, the purpose of exterminating people.

In fact, that thought never struck us at the time.

COL. TAYLOR: Well, now, what elements in the Russian population did the Germans think would be most likely to oppose their economic and political aims in occupied territory?

VON MANSTEIN: I did not worry about that at the time, as I had nothing to do with the economic plans in the occupied territories, nor with the political plans from which we were excluded. I can only say that we soldiers had the one thought of keeping the population in occupied territories quiet by treating them reasonably, and our considerations did not go beyond that.

COL. TAYLOR: Whether you worried about it or not, didn't you know who Hitler and the other political leaders thought were the elements in the Soviet population most likely to be obstructive? I'm asking you, didn't you know?

VON MANSTEIN: Naturally he considered the political commissars to be harmful and to be our enemies; and that was expressed by him in the Commissar Order. Apart from the Commissar Order, I do not know to what extent he thought of annihilating such elements; he did not tell us that, nor did we receive an order to that effect.

COL. TAYLOR: Didn't he also think the Jews should be exterminated for exactly the same reasons?

VON MANSTEIN: That may be; but never once did he discuss the question of the Jews with me.

COL. TAYLOR: You didn't know anything about that?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I knew nothing of the plan of extermination.

COL. TAYLOR: I'd like to ask you a few more questions about the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos. Are you telling the Tribunal that you did not know that one of the most important missions of those units was to assist in exterminating the commissars and the Jews in accordance with these policies?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I did not know that.

COL. TAYLOR: Was there an Einsatzgruppe attached to your army, the 11th Army?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes. As Ohlendorf has testified, this Einsatzgruppe was active in the area of my army.

COL. TAYLOR: I think you told us earlier that the Einsatzgruppe was entirely under the orders of Himmler for operational purposes. I think you also told us that Himmler was a bitter enemy


10 Aug. 46

of the Army. What did you do when you learned there was an Einsatzgruppe attached to the Army? What were you told about it?

VON MANSTEIN: At that time it was reported to me - I do not even know if the name "Einsatzgruppe" was mentioned at the time - that organs of the SS were to investigate the population in the operational areas from a political point of view and that they had received orders for that from Himmler. I could not do anything against that, because I could not possibly assume that these units of the SS were given criminal tasks.

COL. TAYLOR: Is the commander-in-chief pleased to have an independent unit operating in his area which he cannot order around? Is that customary? Do you like it?

VON MANSTEIN: No, of course one does not like it, but then there were numerous other independent units. I should like to mention that the Air Force did not come under our command in any way. When we were fighting together we had to make arrangements with them. We could not give them any orders. The same applied to the Organization Todt and the organization of the Economic Staff East, and to the Police. In short, we were confined to the actual military leadership, and in the last analysis that is the best thing for a soldier because, according to popular judgment, he knows very little about other matters.

COL. TAYLOR: Did it not even arouse your curiosity to have an independent unit under Himmler's orders operating in your area? Did it not stimulate you to find out what it was doing?

VON MANSTEIN: The task of investigating the population for their political reliability was reported to me. I have already said that I was at army headquarters only for 2 or 3 days, after which I went to the front. I might say that the actual fighting made such demands on me during the entire winter when I was a commander that there was no room for curiosity about things of which I could have no idea.

COL. TAYLOR: You talked to the chief of staff and other staff officers from time to time, did you not?

VON MANSTEIN: I only met the other commanders-in-chief when there was a conference with any of them at the OKH. Naturally I talked to my officers. But this question of the SD never cropped up, because as far as we were concerned, it did not appear to us to be an important question.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you not ever ask your chief of staff or any staff officer to keep you very carefully informed on what these independent groups under Himmler were doing in your area?

VON MANSTEIN: No. One cannot speak of independent troops of Himmler, for this Einsatzgruppe was comparatively small and


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never put in an appearance. It only appeared when they supplied us with men for combating the partisans in the Crimea. I know that my staff was negotiating with the SS leader about that.

COL. TAYLOR: I have still two or three documents dealing with this matter which are already in evidence. I would like to show them to you and ask a few questions about them. The first one is the Affidavit Number 12, which is already in evidence. It is USA-557. The first part of this affidavit concerns matters which you probably do not know about directly. You should know about the second paragraph, certainly. This is an affidavit by Walter Schellenberg. I would like to read the first two paragraphs. The Tribunal will find this in the first document book on the General Staff.
"In the middle of May 1941, as far as I remember, the chief of Amt IV of the Reich Security Main Office (SS Brigadefuehrer Muller), in the name of the Chief of the Reich Security Main Office (SS Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich), held discussions with the Generalquartiermeister of the Army (General Wagner) about questions connected with the operations of the Sipo and SD within the bounds of the Field Army during the imminent campaign against Russia. Wagner could come to no agreement with Muller, and therefore Heydrich asked to send another representative. I was at that time chief of Section E in Amt IV of the RSHA under the chief of Amt IV, Muller, and because of my experience with protocols I was sent by Heydrich to Wagner for the purpose of drawing up the final agreement. According to the instructions given to me, I was supposed to make sure that this agreement would provide that the responsible headquarters in the Army would be firmly obligated to give complete support to all activities of the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos of the Sipo and SD. I discussed the problem of this mutual relationship in great detail with Wagner. In accordance with this discussion I then presented him with the completed draft of an agreement, which met with his full approval. This draft was the basis for a final discussion between Wagner and Heydrich towards the end of May 1941.

"The contents of this agreement, as far as I remember, were substantially as follows: Its basis was the Fuehrer's order, mentioned at the very beginning of the agreement, that the Sipo and SD should operate within the combat elements of the Field Army with the mission of utterly smashing all resistance in conquered rear areas of the front as well as in conquered rear supply zones by every means and as quickly as possible. The various areas were then set down in which


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the Sipo and SD were to be assigned and in which they were to operate. The individual Einsatzgruppen were then assigned to the army groups which were to take part in the campaign, and the individual Einsatzkommandos to the respective armies.

"The Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos were to operate in detail:

"1) In front-line areas: in complete sub-ordination to the Field Army, tactically, technically, and as regards troop service; 2) in rear of conquered areas: in subordination to the Meld Army only as regards troop service, but otherwise under the command and technical control of the RSHA; 3) in rear army areas: the same arrangement as in 2; 4) in areas of the civil administration in the East: same as in the Reich.

"The tactical and technical authority and responsibility of front-line headquarters of the Field Army over the Einsatzkommandos was not limited under the agreement and therefore needed no further clarification."
THE PRESIDENT: This is already in evidence, so we do not need the details.

COL. TAYLOR: It is in evidence. It was never read before. I have just one more paragraph I would like to read with your permission.


"The agreement made it clear that subordination as regards troop service embraced not only disciplinary subordination, but also the provisioning of rear headquarters of the Field Army, the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos being subordinated in matters of supply (gasoline, rations, et cetera), as well as in the use of the communications network."

That is all that needs to be read, Your Honor.

Witness, is it now true that the Army made it possible for these Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos to operate; that you furnished them with the supplies and transports arid other things they had to have to carry out their mission?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, certainly. We know that because of the economic contribution the SS made to the Army.

COL. TAYLOR. Is it not also true that the commanding generals had to keep track of what these units were doing, so that their operations would not interfere with military operations?

VON MANSTEIN: No. Actually the commanding generals did not have to bother with
the Einsatzgruppen unless they appeared


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at the front and caused disturbance. As I have told you, I, as commanding general, did not meet any such Einsatzgruppe in my area.

COL. TAYLOR: Have you told the Tribunal it was only at the front where military operations could be disturbed? Is it not also true that rear areas are also important as regards the securing of communications and pacifying the population? Were you not concerned about the rear areas, too?

VON MANSTEIN: In the rear areas we were interested in securing our lines of supply, that is, the roads and railroads. Mostly we did this ourselves. A disturbance could only have taken place if, for instance, mass executions or some such things - as I have heard now did take place - caused difficulties and unrest amongst the population. The commanders of the rear areas would have heard about this, and they would certainly have interfered.

COL. TAYLOR: Your Honor, I would like next to read a little bit from Document 447-PS, in evidence as USA-135. May I call your attention to Paragraph 2, Subdivision a)., beginning with "The area of operations..." Do you see that?


COL. TAYLOR: I would like to read two paragraphs:
"a). The area of operations created through the advance of the Army beyond the frontiers of the Reich and the neighboring countries is to be limited in depth as far as possible. The Commander-in-Chief of the Army has the right to exercise the executive power in this area, and may transfer his authority to the commanders of the army groups and armies.

"b). In the area of army operations, the Reichsfuehrer SS is entrusted on behalf of the Fuehrer with special tasks for the preparation of the political administration, tasks which result from the struggle which has to be carried 'out between two conflicting political systems. Within the realm of these tasks, the Reichsfuehrer SS shall act independently and on his own responsibility. The executive power vested in the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and in agencies determined by him shall not be affected by this. It is the responsibility of the Reichsfuehrer SS that through the execution of his tasks military operations shall not be disturbed. Details shall be arranged directly through the OKH with the Reichsfuehrer SS."

I am asking you again, Witness, whether it was the responsibility of you and your headquarters to make sure that the operations of these groups did not interfere with military operations and that you must have kept yourself fully informed on what they were doing?


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VON MANSTEIN: If there had been disturbance of military operations in any form, naturally the commanders would have had to intervene, but the fact that the Political Police supervised an occupied area and, in that occupied area, investigated the political reliability of people, is by no means reason to assume that wrongs were committed or that there were mass shootings, or any shootings at all, in this area. The political supervision by Political Police is a phenomenon which exists in every occupied territory.

COL. TAYLOR: I think you have already testified that you did not know of any mass shootings in your area. Is that right? You did not know of any?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I did not know of any.

COL. TAYLOR: I wish to present Document R-102, which is now in evidence as USA-470, and would like to read two paragraphs from the last page of the translation. I think the two paragraphs in question are marked in your copy. They are on Page 17 or 18. You will see the original report covering the activities of the Einsatzgruppen in the U.S.S.R. during the month of October, and it covers the activities of all four Einsatzgruppen, including Group D, which was attached to your army. The section beginning on Page 16 relates to the activities of the Einsatzgruppen C and D, which were, in the Ukraine. Under that you will note Paragraph b, which is headed "Arrests and executions of Communists and functionaries." Do you find that?


COL. TAYLOR: I quote:
"The search for leading Communists resulted in the arrest of Kaminski, former GPU chief of Cherson. In the years 1919 to 1921 he had carried out the liquidation of the Czarist officers. The head of the prison work shops of the NKVD was also caught.

"In Kiev a number of NKVD officials and political commissars were rendered innocuous."

And the next subheading "Jews." The first two paragraphs relate to cities outside your area, I believe. Then there is a paragraph which deals with Cherson. Cherson is about 40 miles from Nikolaievsk. Would you say that 60 kilometers would be right?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, that must be right.

COL. TAYLOR: I quote:
"In Cherson 410 Jews were executed as a measure of retaliation for acts of sabotage. Especially in the area east of the Dnieper, the solution of the Jewish question has been taken up energetically by the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police

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and the SD. The areas newly occupied by the Kommandos were purged of Jews. In the course of this action, 4,891 Jews were liquidated. At other places the Jews were marked and registered. This rendered it possible to put at the disposal of the Wehrmacht for urgent labor Jewish worker groups up to 1,000 persons."
Are you still telling the Tribunal that you knew nothing of the operations of this Einsatzgruppe under your army?

VON MANSTEIN: If you mean the case of Cherson, then I have to tell you that I never received a report about such incidents, nor did I receive a report of the arrest of the GPU man, Kaminski. I remained in Nikolaievsk only until about 24 September; then I had my command post in the vicinity of Melitopol, which is far to the east. As far as the liquidation of Jews east of the Dnieper is concerned, I would point out that the operational zone of my army at that time was the Nogai Steppe, a steppe with very few settlements, and part of these settlements, former German villages, were completely evacuated and the inhabitants taken away by the Red Army. Therefore, there could not have been any liquidation of Jews worth mentioning, since there were hardly any Jews there. These 4,000 Jews can only have come from the district east of the Dnieper, that is, where the large operations of the Donets area started, and that was already the operational territory of the First Panzer Army; it was already beyond my territory.

COL. TAYLOR: Did the commanding generals on the Eastern Front submit special instructions to the troops which support this program to liquidate the Jews and commissars?

VON MANSTEIN: No, that is quite out of the question.

COL. TAYLOR: Did General Reichenau issue such an instruction?

VON MANSTEIN: No. I only know of one order of General Reichenau, which has been brought up in court, and in which he discusses the fighting in the East. This order was sent to us on Hitler's instructions as an example. I personally turned down the order and did not apply it in any way in the orders I issued, and I know of no other commander who attached any weight to it.

COL. TAYLOR: That order of General Reichenau instructed troops to take the most severe revenge on subhuman Jews and all elements of Bolshevism, did it not? Have you seen the order?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I remember that I received an order from General Von Reichenau, but I do not remember that it demanded the liquidation of the Jews, and I consider it entirely out of the question that he did order that.

COL. TAYLOR: What did you do yourself when it was suggested that you issue an order like General Reichenau's order?


10 Aug. 46

VON MANSTEIN: It was not suggested to me. It was sent to us as an order of Hitler's as a model. I did nothing about it and I considered such an order as quite beside the point, because I wanted to conduct the fight in a military manner and in no other way.

COL. TAYLOR: So you did not do anything about it?

VON MANSTEIN: No, what should I have done?

COL. TAYLOR: I ask to be shown to the witness, as I said first, the document by General Reichenau. It is USA-556.

I will now ask that the witness be shown a new Document 4664-PS, USA-92-7. Will you look at this order, Witness, and tell us if this is not a document issued out of your headquarters and signed with your facsimile signature, on 20 November 1941? It is already in, the record.

VON MANSTEIN: I must first read the document thoroughly I do not recollect this order.

COL. TAYLOR: Is that your signature?

VON MANSTEIN: It looks like it, but I must first of all read the order to see whether I gave it or not.

COL. TAYLOR: The document, as indicated at the top of the page, states; "XXX. Corps Ref. IC." That is the intelligence office, is it not?

VON MANSTEIN: Yes, that is the name of the office that dealt with enemy intelligence and countering enemy espionage. It has nothing to do with Secret Service as such.

COL. TAYLOR: And just below there is a stamp of the 72d Division, 27 November 1941, Diary Number IC, and at the left it appears to have been issued by Army High Command XI at army headquarters, 20 November 1941. Secret. I quote:
"Since 22 June the German people have been engaged in a life-and-death struggle against the Bolshevist system.

"This struggle is not being carried on against the Soviet Armed Forces alone in the established form laid down by European rules of warfare.

"Behind the front too, the fighting continues. Partisan snipers dressed as civilians attack single soldiers and small units and try to disrupt our supplies by sabotage with mines and infernal machines. Bolshevists left behind keep the population freed from Bolshevism in a state of unrest by means of terror and attempt thereby to sabotage the political and economic pacification of the country. Harvests and factories are destroyed and the city population in particular is thereby ruthlessly delivered to starvation.


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"Jewry constitutes the middleman between the enemy in the rear and the remainder of the Red Armed Forces which is still fighting, and the Red leadership. More strongly than in Europe it holds all the key positions in the political leadership and administration, controls commerce and trades, and further forms the nucleus for all unrest and possible uprisings.

"The Jewish-Bolshevist system must be exterminated once and for all. Never again must it encroach upon our European living space.

"The German soldier has therefore not only the task of crushing the military potential of this system. He comes also as the bearer of a racial concept and as the avenger of all the cruelties' which have been perpetrated on him and on the German people.

"The fight behind the lines is not yet being taken seriously enough. Active co-operation of all soldiers must be demanded in the disarming of the population, the control and arrest of all roving soldiers and civilians, and the removal of Bolshevist symbols.

"Every instance of sabotage must be punished immediately with the severest measures and all signs thereof must be reported.

"The food situation at home makes it essential that the troops should as far as possible be fed off the land and that furthermore the largest possible stocks should be placed at the disposal of the homeland. Particularly in enemy cities a large part of the population will have to go hungry. Nevertheless nothing which the homeland has sacrificed itself to contribute may, out of a misguided sense of humanity, be given to prisoners or to the population unless they are in the service of the German Wehrmacht.

"The soldier must appreciate the necessity for the harsh punishment of Jewry, the spiritual bearer of the Bolshevist terror. This is also necessary in order to nip in the bud all uprisings which are mostly plotted by Jews.

"It is the task of leaders of all grades to keep constantly alive the meaning of the present struggle. Support for the Bolshevist fight behind the front by way of thoughtlessness must be prevented.

"The non-Bolshevist Ukrainians, Russians, and Tartars are expected to acknowledge the New Order. The nonparticipation of numerous alleged anti-Soviet elements must give place to a definite decision in favor of active co-operation against

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Bolshevism. Where it does not exist it must be forced by suitable measures.

"Voluntary co-operation in the reconstruction of occupied territory is an absolute necessity for the achievement of our economic and political aims.

"It demands as a primary condition the just treatment of all non-Bolshevist sections of the population, some of whom have for years fought heroically against Bolshevism.

"The ruling of this country demands from us results, strictness with ourselves, and submergence of the individual. The bearing of every soldier is constantly under observation. It can make enemy propaganda ineffective or give it a springboard. If the soldier in the country takes from the peasant the last cow, the breeding sow, the last chicken, or the seed, then no restoration of the economy can be achieved.

"In all measures it is not the momentary success which is decisive. All measures must, therefore, be judged by their lasting effectiveness.

"Respect for religious customs, particularly those of Mohammedan Tartars, must be demanded.

"In pursuance of these concepts and other measures to be carried out by the later administration, such as the enlightenment of the population by propaganda, encouragement of personal initiative, for instance by rewards, significance must be given to extensive collaboration of the population for combating the partisans and to, the development of the local Auxiliary Police.

"For the achievement of this object the following must be demanded:

"Active co-operation of soldiers in the fight against the enemy in the rear; no soldier to go about alone at night; all motor vehicles to be equipped with adequate armament; a self-assured, but not overbearing attitude on the part of all soldiers; restraint towards prisoners and the other sex; no waste of food.

"Severest action to be taken: against despotism and self-seeking; against lawlessness and lack of discipline; against every transgression of the honor of a soldier."
And it appears that it is to be distributed right down to the regiments and independent battalions.

Did you not issue that order as a result of the suggestion which came to you together with the Reichenau order? The resemblance between the two is, to say the least, striking and the date is about the same.


10 Aug. 46

VON MANSTEIN: I must say that this order escapes my memory entirely. According to the signature and particularly what is contained in the last part, I must assume that the order is genuine and has been issued by me. Whether it was given on the strength of the Reichenau. order or not I cannot possibly tell you now. But I do want to point out to you that if it says here that the system must be exterminated, then that is extermination of the Bolshevik system, but not the extermination of human beings.

I must further point out to you that nowhere is there mention of collaboration with the SD, a collaboration which, because of the lack of knowledge we had of the doings of the SD, was out of the question in this area. I must point out to you the demands which I made of my soldiers - namely, that they must not take the last cow away from the farmers, that they must respect religious customs, that they must respect the other sex and that, on the other hand, they naturally must not be careless of the danger of partisans, as unfortunately the German soldier always was. I point out to you that any wilfulness and any self-seeking is expressly prohibited, also any barbarism, any lack of discipline, and most of all any breach of the honor of a soldier.

COL. TAYLOR: You were asked about the General Reichenau order before the Commissioner, were you not? You were asked, and I read on page - I will have to find the page, Your Honor. I have a typed copy here, Your Honor, without the final page reference.

Were you questioned before the Commissioners as follows:
"You know the order of General Reichenau in which he stated that there should be no consideration shown to the civilian population? Did you see the order, and did it have any influence whatever on your attitude and that of your troops to the civilian population?"
And you answered:
"We were informed of this order upon the suggestion of the Fuehrer, but none of the other leaders were of the same opinion as Reichenau, and it was never carried out, especially in my area."
You had not forgotten the Reichenau order, had you?

VON MANSTEIN: I had quite forgotten the Reichenau. order until it appeared amongst the documents here, and I have no recollection especially of this order of mine. After all, that is not surprising, because that is a number of years ago, and during these years I have signed hundreds, if not thousands, of orders, and I cannot possibly remember every detail.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you sign a lot of orders like this one? Is that why you have such difficulty remembering it?


10 Aug. 46

VON MANSTEIN: No, I certainly have not signed a lot of orders like this one, but I have signed a lot of other orders. Above all, I had to write and read a large number of reports and if I forgot this order, a fact which I admit, it is not surprising. I only know that this order, at any rate, as opposed to the Reichenau order, very strongly emphasizes the demands which I made for decent behavior on the part of my soldiers. That, after all, is the important point.

COL. TAYLOR: You remember the Reichenau order, and you remember that it was suggested that you pass it down, and the only thing you have forgotten is that you did?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I said that I remembered the Reichenau order only when I came here, when it was shown to me among other documents and when I was before the Commission; also that, try as I may, I did not recollect giving that order. If I had done so, I would most certainly have mentioned it, because the first part of the order is absolutely contrary to my conceptions.

COL. TAYLOR: You think that you wrote the second part and not the first?

VON MANSTEIN: I did not write the order at all myself. Very probably the order was shown to me in draft and then I signed it. If the first part mentions the fight against the system and the extermination of the system as well as the fight against the Jews as the supporters of the partisan movement, in the last analysis it had its proper justification. But all that has nothing to do with the fact that Jews were to be exterminated. They were to be excluded, and the system was to be removed. That is the point that matters.

COL. TAYLOR: I think you told the Tribunal a few minutes ago that you did not even know that Jews were likely to be opposed to the new administration. It looks as if you very definitely wrote that for the attention of your soldiers, doesn't it?

VON MANSTEIN: No, I did not know that, and this order that Jews were to be exterminated cannot possibly recall it to my memory because it does not mention a word that the Jews were to be exterminated. It merely says that the system is to be exterminated.

COL. TAYLOR: I call your attention to the paragraph:
"The soldier must appreciate the necessity for harsh punishment of Jewry, the spiritual supporters of the Bolshevist terror. This is also necessary in order to nip in the bud all uprisings, which are mostly plotted by Jews."
Now, I ask you, Witness, the Einsatzkommandos could not have liquidated Jews without the soldiers knowing something about it, could they? Is that true?


10 Aug. 46

VON MANSTEIN: That is perfectly possible, because as Ohlendorf has described it, the shootings of the Jews were camouflaged as "resettlement." The Jews were taken to desolate places and were shot and buried there, so that it is quite certain that the commanding authorities had no knowledge of that. Naturally, it is possible that some soldier or other, quite by accident, may have seen such an execution, and there is in fact evidence of it. I remember in the Russian indictment the description by an engineer who was present during such a shooting, I believe in the Ukraine in the vicinity of Shitomir or Rovno, and described it in most horrible terms.

One can only ask why that man did not report it to the command post. The answer is that the fear of the SS was such that this man, instead of reporting this dirty business, kept it to himself and now comes out with it. At that time - it was not in my area, but, somewhere else - had he gone to some high military command post and described these events, then I am convinced that the commander in question would have intervened; and then, of course, we would also have heard of it. But the fact is that we did not hear about it.

COL. TAYLOR: One more question on this subject, Your Honor.

[Turning to the witness.]

Witness, isn't it true that this order is very carefully drawn so that the troops would understand and, shall we say, sympathize with what the Einsatzkommandos were doing in the way of mass extermination of Jews?

VON MANSTEIN: You mean my order?


VON MANSTEIN: No. There can be no question that I at any time urged my troops, even between the lines, to co-operate in such methods. How could I have concluded by stressing the soldier's honor?

COL. TAYLOR: My Lord, the Prosecution has no further questions of this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

[The Tribunal adjourned until 12 August 1946 at 1000 hours.]


michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 09 Aug 2004 02:09


Thanks for posting this material.

I would like to comment on a couple of items. The emphasis has been added by me.
Besides, we knew of Chamberlain's speech in the House of Commons, in which he assured the Poles of Britain's assistance, and since Hitler on every occasion during the time I was in the High Command of the Army repeated the statement that he would never enter into a war on two fronts, one could not possibly think that, in view of that promise, he would indulge in such an adventurous policy. On the other hand, however, we had the most reliable information - which was confirmed by subsequent facts - that the Poles were proposing to concentrate their troops in Poznania for an offensive towards Berlin.
We completely failed to, understand this gesture in view of the entire situation, but in fact that was the way the Poles drew up their troops at a later stage. The eventuality of war might well be envisaged, therefore, and it was most likely, since the Poles could look to Britain for assistance; and if the political negotiations should teach a crisis, the Poles might on their part be reckless enough to attack, since they were already forming-up offensively, and then, of course, a war would have been inevitable.

Considering all these signs, one could hardly assume that Hitler would, so to speak, pick a quarrel with Poland to unleash an aggressive war against her. The conference at Obersalzberg, for instance, on 22 August, did not give me the impression either that war was bound to come, an impression that was neither mine nor that of Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Von Rundstedt until the night from 31 August to 1 September, since an
order to march in had been withdrawn on the 25th.
It appears that Poland was by no means an innocent victim of German aggression, but was planning to exploit the British promise of military support to launch its own attack in order to seize german territory, something that had been an aim of the Polish Government since the resurrection of the Polish state after the First World War.

No doubt our Polish fellow forum-members will have something to say on that point.

DR. LATERNSER: How did you, as a military leader, regard the war against Russia?

VON MANSTEIN: I considered the war against Russia to be a preventive war on our part. In my opinion, there was for Hitler no other way out of the situation into which he had brought Germany, after he had not dared to risk the invasion of England in the autumn of 1940. In my opinion, we were forced to acknowledge that the Soviet Union was a very great threat in 1940 and 1941 - a threat which would become real as soon as we finally tied up our forces in the fight against England. The only chance of extricating ourselves from that situation would have been a landing in England in the autumn of 1940, but that was a risk which Hitler did not take.
The above statement supports the view that the prime reason for the German invasion of 22 June 1941 was military, with the aim of preventing a future threat from the Soviet Union that could quickly become acute in the event of German weakness.

No doubt our pro-Soviet colleagues will want to comment on the above.

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Post by xcalibur » 09 Aug 2004 04:15

All "pro-Soviets" here at the forum please raise hands and identify yourselves so that we can continue this discussion knowing from which bias one truly comes. I, for one, would like to see this. It's a shame that the pro-Soviets have continued to post their rubbish here without taking a scitilla's worth of responsibility for it. Further, they have the audacity to suggest that they have a monopoly on posting German documents in full and in context, knowing full well that they don't, and then criticise others for alledgedly doing the same. They also do this without specific reference to those threads, posts, etc.

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Post by Mostowka » 11 Aug 2004 17:11

Michael Mills wrote:
It appears that Poland was by no means an innocent victim of German aggression, but was planning to exploit the British promise of military support to launch its own attack in order to seize german territory, something that had been an aim of the Polish Government since the resurrection of the Polish state after the First World War
Are you implying that the German military buildup, preparation, propaganda directed towards Poland was only a reaction to the by Mansteins alleged Polish military concentration around Poznan. Is this your intepretation of Mansteins words ?

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Post by michael mills » 12 Aug 2004 01:19

It seems to me that Von Manstein was claiming that the Polish Government, once it had the open-ended guarantee from Britain, was preparing for its own offensive toward Berlin ("forming up offensively"), independent of German preparations for an attack on Poland.

Manstein's reference to Hitler's desire to avoid a two-front war is noteworthy. He seems to be implying that, once Poland began concentrating its forces so as to be in a position to launch an offensive toward Berlin (which, if actually implemented by Poland, would have automatically brought Britain into war against Germany, under the terms of the guarantee given by Chamberlain and referred to by Manstein), Germany had to knock Poland out with a lighting strike in order to avoid such a two-front war.

What do you think, Mostowka?

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Post by Liluh » 12 Aug 2004 01:29

What does it mean to gather forces "offensively"? I`m sorry but I can`t really imagine that under the circumstances back then.

I never heard of Polish military plans to invade Berlin, maybe I`m just lacking knowledge. Either way, why did Poles build fortifications all over western and southern borders? That`s pretty defence action.

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Post by bonzen » 12 Aug 2004 02:15

I believe the following is from Anthony Beevor's book on Berlin:

"The interrogation of generals continually talking about the honour of a German officer revealed astonishing distortions of logic. SHAEF's joint intelligence committee attributed it to 'a perverted moral sense'. 'These generals,' stated a report based on over 300 interviews, 'approve of every act which "suceeds". Success is right. What does not succeed is wrong. It was, for example, wrong to persecute the Jews before the war since that set the Anglo-Americans against Germany. It would have been right to postpone the anti-Jewish campaign and begin it after Germany had won the war. It was wrong to bomb England in 1940. If they had refrained, Great Britain, so they believe, would have joined Hitler in the war against Russia. It was wrong to treat Russian and Polish [prisoners of war] like cattle since they will now treat Germans in the same way. It was wrong to declare war against the USA and Russia because they were together stronger than Germany. These are not isolated statements by pro-Nazi generals. They represent the prevelant thoughts among nearly all these men. That it is morally wrong to exterminate a race or massacre prisoners hardly ever occurs to them. The only horror they feel for German crimes is that they themselves may, by some monstrous injustice, be considered by the Allies to be implicated"

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Post by jabhatta » 27 Oct 2023 00:08

michael mills wrote:
12 Aug 2004 01:19
It seems to me that Von Manstein was claiming that the Polish Government, once it had the open-ended guarantee from Britain, was preparing for its own offensive toward Berlin ("forming up offensively"), independent of German preparations for an attack on Poland.

Manstein's reference to Hitler's desire to avoid a two-front war is noteworthy. He seems to be implying that, once Poland began concentrating its forces so as to be in a position to launch an offensive toward Berlin (which, if actually implemented by Poland, would have automatically brought Britain into war against Germany, under the terms of the guarantee given by Chamberlain and referred to by Manstein), Germany had to knock Poland out with a lighting strike in order to avoid such a two-front war.

What do you think, Mostowka?
Hi @Michael Mills - other than Von Manstein's words about Poland planned invasion of Germany (specifically - the city of Berlin) in 1939 - is there any other way to confirm if Von Manstein was right ? has any one corroborated what Von Manstein said ? {Von Manstein claims Poles were proposing to concentrate their troops in Poznania for an offensive towards Berlin}

(b) If Poland invades Germany, are you sure Britain/ France would STILL declare war on Germany as per the 'blank cheque' ?

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