This is part 1 of 2:
DR. LATERNSER: With the approval of the Tribunal, I call as my last witness Field Marshal Von Rundstedt.
[The witness Von Rundstedt took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your full name, please?
GERD VON RUNDSTEDT (Witness): Gerd von Rundstedt.
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, you are the senior officer of the former German Army. What was your last position?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I am the senior officer of the German Army and have been a soldier for over 54 years. My last position was Commander-in-Chief West, until 9 March 1945.
DR. LATERNSER: During what period were you commander-in-chief in Berlin?
VON RUNDSTEDT: From I October 1932 until 31 October 1938.
DR. LATERNSER: What was the attitude of the military leaders towards domestic and foreign politics?
VON RUNDSTEDT: We generals did not concern ourselves with politics. We did not take part in any political discussions, and we did not hold any political discussions among ourselves.
I should like in this connection to quote the famous British Field Marshal Montgomery, who said: "As a servant of the nation, the Army is above politics, and that must remain so."
DR. LATERNSER: Did the Reichswehr in 1933 help Hitler to assume power?
VON RUNDSTEDT: No.
DR. LATERNSER: What was the attitude of the generals toward the Party and its methods?
VON RUNDSTEDT: The generals either rejected the Party or were indifferent. As for the methods regarding the Jewish question, they absolutely rejected them, particularly because many comrades were severely affected by the Aryan laws. The so-called master race is an absurdity. There is a mixture of Slav, Romanic, and Dinaric races in Germany. We also rejected the attitude in the Church question, and we succeeded in retaining chaplains in the Army up to the end.
DR. LATERNSER: Was this attitude also true of the younger generals who, in the course of the war, came into positions subject to the Indictment?
VON RUNDSTEDT: As far as my own close acquaintances are concerned, absolutely.
DR. LATERNSER: Did you, in 1934, as the senior officer, have an opportunity of doing anything to demand from Hitler punishment of the murderers of Schleicher?
VON RUNDSTEDT: No. In the first place, Reich President Von Hindenburg was still at the head of the State. In the second place, I was not the senior officer. We had a Commander-in-Chief of the Army and a Minister of War for things of that sort.
DR. LATERNSER: Did the troop maneuvers or the trips of the General Staff after 1935 indicate any intention or plan for wars of aggression?
VON RUNDSTEDT: No, in no way. The large-scale maneuvers and the General Staff or Führer trips were always concerned with war in our own country.
DR. LATERNSER: Were you, as resident commander-in-chief in Berlin, consulted before the declaration of military sovereignty?'
VON RUNDSTEDT: No.
DR. LATERNSER: Did you know Generaloberst Von Fritsch well?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Very well; he was my subordinate for a time.
DR. LATERNSER: Did he tell you, as his official representative after 1937, of Hitler's intention to wage wars of aggression?
VON RUNDSTEDT: No, he could not do that, because there is such a thing as an official secret.
DR. LATERNSER: You deputized for him, did you not, when he went on prolonged leave to Egypt in the winter of 1937-1938? Did he on that occasion tell you of Hitler's intentions as contained in the minutes of the meeting of 5 November 1937?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I only deputized for Generaloberst Von Fritsch; his official representative was the Chief of the General Staff, Beck. Generaloberst Von Fritsch did not give me any information at that time, nor did Generaloberst Beck.
DR. LATERNSER: What were the results of the measures which Hitler took on 4 February 1938, in the military field?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Hitler eliminated the Minister of War as intermediary between himself and the Wehrmacht; thus he himself now had command over all three branches of the Wehrmacht. In addition, he took the opportunity of dismissing high military leaders who were unwelcome to him.
DR. LATERNSER: In February of 1938 you had a private conference with Hitler alone. What did he tell you about the attitude of the German generals?
VON RUNDSTEDT: He complained very bitterly about the supreme military leaders. He said that he alone had been the one who had forced rearmament through. The supreme leaders had always resisted and said it was going too fast. In the occupation of the Rhineland, he charged the leaders with a certain cowardice when they asked for withdrawal of the troops behind the Rhine, since France was not adopting a threatening attitude.
DR. LATERNSER: Did you in this talk discuss the question of a successor to Fritsch?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Yes. Hitler first suggested to me General Von Reichenau. That suggestion I turned down in the name of the Army. He then suggested General Von Brauchitsch, whose appointment I entirely approved in the name of the Army.
DR. LATERNSER: When did you, as commander-in-chief in Berlin, learn of the planned march into Austria?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I was suddenly assigned to represent General Von Brauchitsch in Breslau, at a commemoration celebration of the Iron Cross, and it was only there that I officially learned that the occupation of Austria had actually taken place.
DR. LATERNSER: How were the commanders-in-chief informed of existing intentions?
VON RUNDSTEDT: We were told of the intentions of the Supreme Command by our Commander-in-Chief, Von Brauchitsch, but he was only allowed to tell us what concerned us.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I should now like to question the witness on Affidavits 3 and 5 of Field Marshal Von Blomberg and Generaloberst Blaskowitz. They are USA-536 and 537 (Documents Numbers 3704-PS and 3706-PS), in the first volume of the document book of the Prosecution. In this connection I should like to call the attention of the Court to the fact that these affidavits, in the paragraphs in question, agree word for word, although they were made on different days by different persons.
[Turning to the witness.] Field Marshal, the two affidavits of Field Marshal Von Blomberg and Generaloberst Blaskowitz say that the groups of German staff officers - that is the way in which it is put - considered the solution of the Polish question by war to be indispensable and that that was the reason for secret armament. Is that true?
VON RUNDSTEDT: In the first place, a group of German staff officers never existed ...
DR. LATERNSER: What is meant by staff officers?
VON RUNDSTEDT: A staff officer is an officer holding the rank of Major, Lieutenant Colonel, or Colonel, then come the Generals.
DR. LATERNSER: Please continue.
VON RUNDSTEDT: Even if the statement of Blomberg is intended to mean that a German war of aggression against Poland was indispensable, that is not true. On the other hand, if he means that we had to expect an attack from Poland at any time, I can say that in the first years after the World War, I also counted on this possibility. Hence the border protection and fortifications on the Eastern border of the Reich against Poland. But as I said, no sensible person thought of a war of aggression. We were in no position to wage such a war.
DR. LATERNSER: Generaloberst Blaskowitz, at the end of this Affidavit Number 5, USA Exhibit-537, says that the front commanders-in-chief were the actual advisers in the OKW, and as an example he gives the battle of Kutno. Is this correct?
VON RUNDSTEDT: That is not correct. The commanders-in- chief never had an advisory role. Our Commander-in-Chief of the Army was the only one who had to hold council with the supreme authorities. As for the battle of Kutno, any advice to Hitler is absolute nonsense. The orders for the battle of Kutno were given by me as Commander-in-Chief of Army Group South, according to the instructions which I had from Herr Von Brauchitsch, and Herr Blaskowitz had only to obey and could not, have given any sort of advice to Hitler. No, no, that must be a mistake.
DR. LATERNSER: What impression did the discussion on 22 August 1939 at the Obersalzberg make on you, Field Marshal?
VON RUNDSTEDT: When we left the conference, we thought that this undertaking would end just like the so-called Sudeten war in 1938, primarily because Russia was on our side. When on 26 August the movement for the beginning of operations, which had been ordered, was suddenly stopped, and was to begin again on 1 September, we said, "Ah, that is the same kind of bluff which we had in 1938." We did not take the decision for war seriously.
DR. LATERNSER: Did you, after the conference of 22 August, talk to other commanders-in-chief and exchange ideas on the impressions gathered at this discussion?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I remember with certainty that I talked to Field Marshal Von Bock about it. I left Obersalzberg very quickly. With Manstein and later with my staff I exchanged the same views which I have just mentioned.
DR. LATERNSER: Did you have knowledge of the attack on the Gleiwitz radio station?
VON RUNDSTEDT: No.
DR. LATERNSER: In 'what way did you learn of the intention of occupying Denmark and Norway?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I learned of the accomplished fact through official channels.
DR. LATERNSER: How about the entry into Yugoslavia and Greece?
VON RUNDSTEDT: It was the same.
DR. LATERNSER: You participated in the conference in March 1941, when Hitler spoke of the necessity of attacking the Soviet Union?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Yes.
DR. LATERNSER: What were you told about Soviet preparations?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Until a short time before that I had been in France, and I had no knowledge whatever of the ostensible preparations of the Russians. At the conference, to our surprise, we were told that the Russians were very strongly armed, were concentrating troops and preparing to attack us. If I am not mistaken, information from the Japanese Military Attache was referred to, and a map of the Russian distribution of forces on the borders of Poland was shown to us, so that we had to assume that these facts were actually true.
DR. LATERNSER: Was this impression confirmed after the entry into Russia?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Yes. The resistance at the border was not too great, but it grew continually as we advanced into the interior of the country. Very strong tank forces, tanks of a better type, far superior to ours, appeared; and an enormous number of airfields, troop camps, munitions dumps, and newly built roads through impassable territory were encountered. Maps were also found, showing German territory as far as Silesia, so that we had the impression that Hitler must have been right.
DR.LATERNSER: At the conference in March 1941, Hitler announced the Commissar Order. What was your attitude toward this order?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Our attitude was unanimously and absolutely against it. Immediately after the conference we approached Brauchitsch and told him that this was impossible. Our com-manders-in-chief of the armies were of the same opinion. The order was simply not carried out, and as I learned afterwards, it was later rescinded. General Von Brauchitsch, to make this order more or less ineffective, issued a very strict order to the troops on the correct conduct of German soldiers in the coming war. I know of no case in which this order was used in any way.
DR. LATERNSER: Was the intention to remove the Jewish population in the East announced at this conference?
VON RUNDSTEDT: No, Hitler would never have expressed such intentions to officers.
DR. LATERNSER: According to the Russian Prosecution 33,000 Jews were shot in November 1941 in Kiev. Where were the armies of Army Group South in November 1941?
VON RUNDSTEDT: My armies were on the line Rostov-Stalino, along the Donets, to the district east of Kharkov. The rear border between the army area and the Ukraine district under civil administration followed a line east of Kiev along the Dnieper.
DR. LATERNSER: Then Kiev was not at that time in any operational area of an army under your command?
VON RUNDSTEDT: No.
DR. LATERNSER: Did the commanders-in-chief of the army groups of the armies in the East have any powers outside this area of operations?
VON RUNDSTEDT: No.
DR. LATERNSER: Was the operational area kept as small or as large as possible?
VON RUNDSTEDT: The operational area of the army was kept as small as possible, first, in order to trouble the army as little as possible with affairs in the rear, and secondly, to make the Ukraine district, et cetera, which was under the civil administration, as large as possible and thus remove it from the influence of the Army.
DR. LATERNSER: And now for the Commando Order. What was your attitude toward the
VON RUNDSTEDT: We military commanders were absolutely opposed to, the Commando Order and in oral discussions among our staffs we agreed to make it ineffective.
DR. LATERNSER: Did you, as Commander-in-Chief West, receive a report of any case in which the order was applied?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Not a single case was reported to me, and my chief of staff, whom I asked about it here in Nuremberg, knew of no case either. I must assume that this Commando Order had an intimidating effect on the enemy, for I know of no Commando operation undertaken afterwards, aside from that on the island of Sark, where illegal acts did take place, but no prisoners were taken by us.
DR. LATERNSER: Illegal acts on whose part?
VON RUNDSTEDT: On the part of those who had undertaken the Commando operation.
DR. LATERNSER: Now the invasion came, or was expected. Document Number 531-PS shows that you asked to have the Commando Order rescinded. For what reason?
VON RUNDSTEDT: During the invasion, strong air landings far behind the front, perhaps as far as Paris, had to be expected, and a distinction between Commando troops and fighting troops would no longer have been possible. Moreover, it was at least a good opportunity to do away with this order altogether, and the more since the majority of the new divisions did not even know it.
DR. LATERNSER: But you said in your request to have it rescinded that the order had been obeyed up to that time. How do you explain that?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I had to express it in that way. I had evaded the order, but I could not very well say: "Paragraph 1. I have not carried out the Commando Order." Some sort of pretence had to be kept up.
DR. LATERNSER: Now a few questions about the struggle against the Resistance movement in France. What agencies were responsible for peace and order in the occupied area in France?
VON RUNDSTEDT: The Military Commander was responsible for peace and order in occupied France. In Pétain's France -- shall I say -- that is, in the South of France, the Military Commander had a special general in Lyons who was to work in close co-operation with the Pétain Government. As the Resistance movement in southern France became ever stronger and developed into a tremendous threat to the troops fighting in the Mediterranean area - that was in the winter of 1943 and 1944 - the Commander-in-Chief West was made responsible for the southern part of France. Thereupon I placed this general in Lyons under the Army Group "Gustav" which was at Toulon and was responsible for establishing order in the South of France.
DR. LATERNSER: Were the French Government and the French population warned?
VON RUNDSTEDT: The French Government was repeatedly warned and asked to oppose this movement with an its strength, for the sake of the inhabitants. We issued proclamations to the population which in a fair manner were always first submitted to the French Government for scrutiny. When the invasion threatened, I personally asked the old gentleman to warn his people on the radio and ask that in their own interests they should not do such things. He promised to do so. Whether he did it, I do not know.
DR. LATERNSER: Were these warnings observed?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Unfortunately, no. Finally even the French Police, whom we had armed better to combat the movement, went over to the rebels.
DR. LATERNSER: Did the Germans nevertheless fight against them with forbearance?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Yes, as far as we possibly could. For example, never were entire towns destroyed from the air, but single planes were always sent out against particular places of resistance. Mass use of artillery or tanks did not take place. The fact that excesses such as those at Oradour took place, we all greatly regretted. At that time I immediately demanded a report, since I could not order a judicial investigation, and I also reported this unfortunate occurrence to the OKW.
DR.LATERNSER: Why could you not order a judicial investigation?
VON RUNDSTEDT: All the troop units of the SS were subordinate only to Himmler. I had neither disciplinary power nor judicial power over them, I could not give them leave, or bestow awards. I was limited only to the tactical employment of these divisions, much as if I were having an Italian, or Hungarian, or Slovakian division under my command.
DR. LATERNSER: Was the legality of the Resistance movement recognized?
VON RUNDSTEDT: General Eisenhower and De Gaulle declared via radio that it was legal. We inquired of the High Command of the Wehrmacht what should be done in the matter, and the decision received was negative. Later, after the Allied troops had landed on the Mediterranean coast, the legality of the new French Army is said to have been recognized and observed without argument.
DR. LATERNSER: What is your attitude toward illegal warfare?
VON RUNDSTEDT: My point of view is the following, based on quite understandable patriotic feeling: Disorderly, irregular warfare behind the front of the enemy army must bring very great misery to the population of the country affected. No army in the world can tolerate such conditions for any length of time, and in the interests of the security and protection of its own troops, it must take sharp, energetic measures. But this should, of course, be done in a correct and soldierly manner. Excesses such as those in Oradour were strongly condemned by myself and by all army leaders. We very much disliked seeing the attempt made on the German side to set up this Werewolf movement at the last moment. If it had been put into practice, it would have brought untold misery to our fatherland, and justly so. I would consider it fortunate for humanity if through international agreements such illegal wars could in future be made impossible. That is my point of view.
DR. LATERNSER: What measures did you introduce to relieve the position of the French population during the occupation?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I would not like to give all the details here. I can only say that I did everything to help Marshal Pétain, with whom I was on terms of great confidence. I asked Hitler to define at last what position France was to have in the future Europe. I assisted Marshal Pétain to raise his Guards and tried to create a new French Army for him, though it did not grow into more than a regiment. I succeeded in obtaining more rations for the fine French railroad men who managed all our transports, and I tried to have their relatives who were prisoners of war returned to them, in the same way in which Hitler had approved after the Dieppe raid that the relatives of those in Dieppe, could return. We did what we could to supply the great city of Paris with coal and food, though the transport situation for the German Army was almost unbearably poor. Those are the main points.
DR. LATERNSER: One intermediate question: on one of the last few days, a witness said that from 1944 on the concentration camps were guarded by soldiers of all branches of the Wehrmacht. How do you explain that?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I know nothing about that. Since Himmler was Commander-in-Chief of the Reserve Army after the attempted assassination of the Führer, he could probably issue such an order. If he did issue it, my feeling is that he wanted to charge the Army also with all these occurrences in connection with the concentration camps.
DR. LATERNSER: Now a few questions about the Ardennes offensive. Was an order to shoot prisoners ever issued before or during this offensive?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Such an order was not issued by Hitler. On the contrary, he considered it most important to take as many prisoners as possible in the offensive. I consider it impossible that a subordinate military command issued such an order, which would contradict our training and our ideas.
DR.LATERNSER: Did you not oppose this offensive?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I opposed the offensive for the following reasons: The operational idea as such can almost be called a stroke of genius, but all, absolutely all conditions for a possible success of such an offensive were lacking. Therefore, Field Marshal Model and I suggested that we should be satisfied with less and should attack the Allied troops east of Aix-la-Chapelle from several sides. These suggestions remained unheeded. The offensive had to start with completely inadequate forces on the ground and in the air and, as predicted, could only fail.
DR. LATERNSER: Did you oppose Hitler on other occasions also?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Not personally, because I had no opportunity of doing so; but to his staff I frequently objected to measures ordered from above; especially in the case of the Normandy invasion, the Ardennes offensive, after it had failed, and the conduct of operations in Holland. But it was all in vain.
DR. LATERNSER: When did you consider the war lost?
VON RUNDSTEDT: In my opinion the war could not be won after the fall of Stalingrad. I considered the war lost when the Allies had succeeded in establishing a strong bridgehead on French soil. That meant the end.
DR. LATERNSER: Did you or other commanders-in-chief attempt to stop the continuation of the war when you regarded it as lost?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Both Field Marshal Rommel and I twice attempted to persuade Hitler to change the conduct of the war and especially to withdraw the front to the German borders. But as was to be expected, these suggestions were not heeded.
DR. LATERNSER: Since Hitler refused to listen to such advice, did you not consider causing a violent overthrow?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I would never have thought of such a thing; that would have been base, barefaced treachery, and could not have changed the situation. The Army and the people still believed in Hitler at that time, and such an overthrow would have been quite unsuccessful. Even if I, perhaps with the aid of the Allies, had brought about an overthrow, the fate of the German people, according to the famous statement of the Big Three, would have been exactly what it is now, and I would have emerged and been considered for all time as the greatest traitor, to my fatherland.
DR. LATERNSER: You lost your position three times during the war. What were the reasons?
VON RUNDSTEDT: In 1941 a quite impossible order of a technical nature was issued from above, and would have led to the destruction of the entire Kleist Panzer Army near Rostov. I objected to it, I demanded that the order be withdrawn, and said that otherwise I would be compelled to consider it a lack of confidence in my leadership, and I would ask that another commander-in-chief be selected. Thereupon, I was removed from my post that same night, on 1 December, at my own request, as it was put. That was the first case. The second case was on 2 July 1944, when by a very cordial letter, I was replaced by another commander-in-chief because of the impaired state of my health.
The third case was on 9 March 1945. Then I could no longer be expected as an old gentleman to continue performing the exacting duties of Commander-in-Chief West.
Those were the three cases.
DR.LATERNSER: And in none of these cases did you resign against the will of Hitler?
VON RUNDSTEDT: In the first case one might say so. But he did not hold it against me in any way, for already in the following March I was made Commander-in-Chief in France.
DR. LATERNSER: Now I come to the last question. You know, Field Marshal, that the Prosecution have asked that the body of military leaders be declared criminal. As the senior officer of the German Army, you know the attitude of these leaders toward military and international law. Would you please tell the Court about it briefly?
VON RUNDSTEDT: The rules of warfare and of international law as set down in the Geneva Convention and the Hague Rules on Land Warfare were always binding for us older leaders. Their strict observance by the troops was demanded, and very severe measures were taken in case of excesses, which in war can probably take place in all armies. The court-martial records of the various divisions can give information on this point. Property of the inhabitants was ordered to be respected. Severe punishment for plundering had to be meted out, if only in the interests of maintaining discipline amongst our own troops. Raping of women and other inhuman acts were also subject to severe punishment. What we could do to support the inhabitants of enemy countries affected by the war was done as far as was possible. The wounded or conquered enemy was no longer considered as such, but had a claim to decent treatment. We ordered that the battle itself was to be fought chivalrously. We old officers who lived through the time of cavalry battles and of infantry bayonet attacks, witnessed the increasing mechanization of warfare with regret. Today the bravest men and the best troops are helpless against the force of sheer material. All the more did we leaders believe that where there was fighting on land, the old soldierly decent forms of battle should be maintained, and that they should be impressed on the troops again and again.
As senior soldier of the German Army, I will say this: We accused leaders were trained in the old soldierly traditions of decency and chivalry. We lived and acted according to them, and we endeavored to hand them down to the younger officers.
DR.LATERNSER: I have no further questions.
COMMANDER PETER CALVACORESSI (Junior Counsel for the United Kingdom): Field Marshal, in time of war, the military commander must keep in close touch, must he not, and know the opinions of his immediate subordinates, is that right?
VON RUNDSTEDT: That is not necessary to that extent. My subordinates only had to know my operational and tactical views. For the rest, they were free as army leaders within their sphere.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: I want to quote to you one sentence from the evidence which has been given by your former commander-in-chief. The translators already have it. It is on Page 2 of Affidavit Number 4:"During operations, the OKH maintained a constant exchange of ideas with army groups by means of telephone, radio, and courier. The Commander-in-Chief of the Army used every opportunity to maintain a personal exchange of ideas with the commanders of army groups, armies, and lower echelons by means of personal visits to them."
Is that, generally speaking, correct?
VON RUNDSTEDT: That is absolutely correct as far as the conduct of the war, operations, and tactical actions are concerned. Such an exchange did take place from the army groups up to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: I shall read you one more sentence from the evidence that has been given by Generaloberst Blaskowitz. He has said - and I want you to tell me whether you agree with this - that it was common practice for the commanders of army groups and of armies to be asked from time to time for estimates of a situation, and for their recommendations, by telephone, teletype, or wireless, as well as by personal records.
VON RUNDSTEDT: It is not correct that they had to give such estimates. They could do so.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: Now I have some questions on the Russian campaign. You yourself at a conference with Hitler and your Army colleagues raised a question of a gap which existed between your army group and that of Field Marshal Von Bock. Is that right?
VON RUNDSTEDT: That is correct.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: And you knew from your former experience that although on the map that gap was shown as swamp land, it could be used by troops; and you therefore advised about the steps that should be taken to prevent its exploitation by the enemy?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I pointed out that according to my experiences in the last war against Russia, the Russians could operate freely in this swamp area, and that it would therefore be practical if German troops also could be moved through this area. This suggestion was not accepted. As the operations later showed, the Russians had strong forces in the area, and from there they constantly threatened the left Rank of my army group.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: Yes. I am not concerned with whether the advice was listened to or not. But you agree that you offered it?
VON RUNDSTEDT: It was not advice; it was a question which occurred to me as I described the plan of the operation to the Führer. It was not advice.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: I am not going to quarrel with you on that. I want to mention one other conference about which we have already heard a certain amount, and that was the meeting which took place - I think it was in the office of Field Marshal Von Brauchitsch – in May 1938, when there was a question of seizing the Sudetenland. Is it not a fact that at that conference Von Brauchitsch asked for the opinion of you and your fellow-officers on the proposals which Hitler had laid before you?
VON RUNDSTEDT: At that time, a memorandum was read which the Chief of the General Staff, Beck, had drawn up, and which warned against a war over the question of the Sudetenland. It was to be submitted to Hitler by Von Brauchitsch. We were asked for our opinion on this memorandum, and we unanimously agreed that war should not be waged.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: You were unanimously agreed with General Beck that the sort of war that was likely to happen at that time, if Hitler had his way, should not be waged at that time in that way?
[VON RUNDSTEDT: . . . ] this war if France, England, and America were likely to join the enemy side. That was the fundamental idea of the memorandum. We could probably have dealt with Czechoslovakia alone, although certainly not if the countries just mentioned had come to her aid. And against that Hitler was to be warned.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: Then it is fair to say, is it not, that in order to support himself in the objections which he proposed to make to Hitler, Brauchitsch assembled a circle of leading generals who were of the same opinion as himself? That strengthened his hand, did it not?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Yes; one might say that.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: You all agreed in giving similar advice to the advice which had been given by Generaloberst Beck?
THE PRESIDENT: Is this a convenient time to break off?
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: Yes, My Lord.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1400 hours.]
[The witness Von Rundstedt resumed the stand.]
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: You have given evidence, Field Marshal, to the effect that you had little or no knowledge of such moves as the occupation of the Rhineland or the seizure of the Sudetenland, is that correct?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I had no previous knowledge of the occupation of the Rhineland, just as little as I knew anything of the occupation of the Sudetenland in 1939. I was inactive at the time, retired.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: What was the highest post you held when you were in service between 1933 and the outbreak of the war in 1939?
VON RUNDSTEDT: As I stated earlier, from 1 October 1932 until 31 October 1938 I was Commander-in-Chief of Group I, Berlin. Then I retired.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: Therefore, during the period up to the outbreak of the war, during such time as you held the post, and when you received little or no information about what was going on, you were not a member of the indicted group, as defined in this Indictment?
VON RUNDSTEDT: No, I was not a member of that group.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: And as far as the invasion of Norway is concerned, you were at that time active in a different theater of war, is that right?
VON RUNDSTEDT: At the time when the Norway enterprise began I was Commander-in-Chief of Army Group A, stationed at Coblenz, in the West.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: And in any case, the Norwegian invasion was not the affair of the OKH, but of the OKW?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I cannot tell you whether it was an affair of the Navy or of the OKW.
COMMANDIRR CALVACORESSI: Now, in general, before the war, you would say your picture is: the generals were left alone to occupy themselves with training exercises and the training of relatively small details and units. Is that a fair summary of the evidence you gave before the Commission?
VON RUNDSTEDT: That probably is a misunderstanding. The smaller training exercises were a matter for the divisional commanders and commanding generals, and only General Von Fritsch asked of the commanders-in-chief that they too should concern themselves with smaller details occasionally.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: Anyhow, during this period when the boundaries of Germany were rapidly expanding, you say that the problem of defense came first in the minds of the military leadership of Germany?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I did not quite understand that. Did you say the borders of Germany were expanding? They did not do that. It was only in 1938 through the Sudeten affair and until...
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: I mean from the beginning of the period of the Anschluss until the outbreak of the war with Poland.
VON RUNDSTEDT: Yes, quite.
COMMANDER, CALVACORESSI: And you said this morning the exercises which were held at that time were defensive exercises, defensive maneuvers?
VON RUNDSTEDT: I did not hold any maneuvers any more. After the Sudeten war in 1938 I was pensioned. Whether and to what extent maneuvers were carried out in 1939 is beyond my knowledge.
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: And you referred this morning to prewar maneuvers prior to 1939, and as I understand it, you spoke of these maneuvers as simply defensive exercises?
VON RUNDSTEDT: Yes. Those were the maneuvers in 1936 and 1937. During the latter I myself, as an army commander, was leading a party in Pomerania against an enemy attack on Germany-
COMMANDER CALVACORESSI: Would you also describe as defensive exercises those which were held with stukas and other weapons at Guernica in Spain?
VON RUNDSTEDT: About that I cannot give you any information. When rearmament had been decided upon in 1935, or 1936, I think, the Air Force introduced stukas too. But I do not know that. At any rate, I considered that at that time any type of weapon was justified within the rearmed Army.