NMT Einsatzgruppe Testimony of Otto Ohlendorf

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 22761
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

NMT Einsatzgruppe Testimony of Otto Ohlendorf

Postby David Thompson » 21 Sep 2004 03:59

Readers in this section of the forum are probably already familiar with the Einsatzgruppe testimony of Prof. Dr. jur. Otto Ohlendorf at the International Military Tribunal (IMT) on 3 Jan 1946, which can be seen at:


Here is a brief biographical sketch of the man:

Ohlendorf, Prof. Dr. jur. Otto (4.2.1907-7.6.1951) [SS-Gruppenfűhrer und Generalleutnant der Polizei] -- NSDAP: 6531; SS: 880; service, Reich Security Main Office for the NSDAP Security Service (SD-Hauptamt/RSHA) (on 1 Dec 1937)-8 May 1945; chief, Reich Security Main Office Department III NSDAP Security Service Inland (RSHA Amt III Sicherheitsdienst - Deutschland) (on 1 Jan 1941); commander, Action Group D (Einsatzgruppe D) Jun 1941- Jul 1942; undersecretary in the Reich Ministry of Economics (Unterstaatssekretaer in Reichswirtschaftministerium) {testified at International Military Tribunal trial of major war criminals 3 Jan 1946 (NYT 4 Jan 1946:6:3); put on trial by an American military tribunal at Nuremberg (the "Einsatzgruppe case") on charges of mass murder arising out of the mass murders of Russian Jews, Soviet POWs and communist functionaries while he was in command of Einsatzgruppe D (LT 9 Apr 1948:4e); convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging 10 Apr 1948 (NYT 11 Apr 1948:9:1; LT 10 Apr 1948:3e; LT 12 Apr 1948:4f); clemency refused 31 Jan 1951 by General Thomas T. Handy, US armed forces commander in Europe (NYT 1 Feb 1951:1:2); executed at Landsberg-am-Lech prison 7 Jun 1951 (NYT 7 Jun 1951:1:7; LT 8 Jun 1951:6d; Encyclopedia of the Third Reich pps. 665-6; SS: Roll of Infamy p. 128; Field Men p. 93; ABR-SS; Dienstaltersliste der Schutzstaffel der NSDAP [9 Nov 1944]; Third Reich Historical Forum, "Landsberg Executions," http://www.thirdreichforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=23517).
The American military tribunal which sentenced Ohlendorf to death had this to say in its judgment:
"The evidence in this case could reveal not one but two Otto Ohlendorfs. There is the Ohlendorf represented as the student, lecturer, administrator, sociologist, scientific analyst, and humanitarian. This Ohlendorf was born on a farm, studied law and political science at the Universities of Leipzig and Goettingen, practiced as a barrister at the courts of Alfeld-Leine and Hildesheim, became deputy section chief in the Institute for Applied Economic Science in Berlin, and in 1936 became Economic Consultant in the SD. On behalf of this Ohlendorf, defense counsel has submitted several hundred pages of affidavits which speak of Ohlendorf 's efforts to make the SD purely a fact-gathering organization, of his opposition to totalitarian and dictatorial tendencies in the cultural life of Germany, of his defense of the middle classes, and of his many clashes with Himmler, the SS Chief, and Mueller, the Chief of the Gestapo. One of these affidavits declares:
"Ohlendorf did not see superior and inferior races in various peoples….He considered race only as a symbolic notion. The individual nations to him were not superior or inferior, but different. The domination of one people with its principles of life over the other he considered, therefore, wrong and directed against the laws of life. For him, the goal to be desired was a system among peoples by which every nation could develop according to its own nature, potentialities and abilities. Folk, in his view, also was not dependent on a state organization."
On the other hand, we have the description of an SS General Ohlendorf who led
Einsatzgruppe D [Action Group D] into the Crimea on a race-extermination expedition. That Otto Ohlendorf is described by that same Ohlendorf. If the humanitarian and the
Einsatz leader are merged into one person it could be assumed that we are here dealing with a character such as the described by Robert Louis Stevenson in his "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." As interesting as it would be to dwell on this possible dual nature, the Tribunal can only make its adjudication on the Ohlendorf who, by his own word, headed an organization which, according to its own reports, killed 90,000 people. The Tribunal finds as a fact from the reports, records, documents and testimony in this case that Einsatzgruppe D did kill 90,000 persons in violation of the laws and customs of war, of general International Law, and of Control Council Law No. 10.
Whatever offenses Ohlendorf may have to answer for, he will never need to plead guilty to evasiveness on the witness stand, which indeed cannot be said of all the defendants. With a forthrightness which one could well wish were in another field of activity, Otto Ohlendorf related how he received the Fuehrer-Order and how he executed it. He never denied the facts of killings and only seeks exculpation on the basis of the legal argument that he was acting under Superior Orders. Further, that, as he saw the situation, Germany was compelled to attack Russia as a defensive measure and that the security of the Army, to which his group was attached, called for the operations which he unhesitatingly admits. All these defenses have been treated in the General Opinion and need not be repeated here.
In addition to Ohlendorf's direct testimony in this present trial, he voluntarily appeared as a witness in the International Military Tribunal trial and there described under oath the entire einsatz program of extermination. With but a minor exception he confirmed in this trial the testimony presented before the IMT. Thus, that testimony, by reference, is incorporated into the record of the instant trial and forms further evidence in support of the findings reached in this judgment. Even outside the court room Ohlendorf admitted untrammeledly the activities of the Einsatzgruppe under his charge. In at least four affidavits he related how his command functioned. He told of the area covered by his Einsatzgruppe, the division of his group into smaller units, the manner and methods of execution, the collection of the valuables of the victims, and the writing and submitting of reports to Berlin.
The record of Otto Ohlendorf, the Chief of Department III of the RSHA and the Chief of the Einsatzgruppe D, is complete.
The record and analysis of the Otto Ohlendorf who was born in the country and showed great promise in the field of learning, purposeful living and sociological advancement, will need to be made elsewhere. Unfortunately it cannot form part of this judgment which can only dispose of the charges of criminality presented in the indictment. Those charges against Otto Ohlendorf have been proved before this Tribunal beyond a reasonable doubt. The Tribunal accordingly finds Otto Ohlendorf guilty under Counts I and II of the indictment. It has been argued by Dr. Aschenauer that Ohlendorf was not a member of a criminal organization as determined by the International Military Tribunal decision and Control Council Law No. 10. In support of this argument it is asserted that Ohlendorf was ordered to Russia as an employee of the Reich Group Commerce. It is impossible that Ohlendorf, as the leader of Einsatzgruppe D, should have been functioning as a member of the Reich Group Commerce. He headed Office III of RSHA before he went to Russia, and he headed it when he returned. The Tribunal finds that the defendant was a member of the criminal organizations SS and SD under the conditions defined by the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal and is, therefore, guilty under Count III of the Indictment." (Musmanno, Michael A., U.S.N.R, Military Tribunal II, Case 9: Opinion and Judgment of the Tribunal. Nuremberg: Palace of Justice. 8 April 1948. pp. 130-133 (original mimeographed copy), http://www.einsatzgruppenarchives.com/t ... ndorf.html ).}

This is Ohlendorf's later NMT testimony, taken when he was on trial for his life, from Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 4: United States of America v. Otto Ohlendorf, et. al. (Case 9: 'Einsatzgruppen Case'); Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1950, pp. 223-312. This is part 1 of 5 parts:




DR. ASCHENAUER (Counsel for defendant Ohlendorf) : What is your name?


Q. When and where were you born?

A. On 4 February 1907, in Hoheneggelsen, District of Hannover.

Q. What was the profession of your father?

A. My father was an owner of a farm.

Q. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

A. I am the youngest of four.

Q. What is the profession of your brothers and sisters?

A. My oldest brother is a scientist; my second brother owns a farm; my sister has a business.

Q. What was the political opinion in your parents' house?

A. My father was an old National Liberal, and later he was at times a liaison official of the German People's Party.

Q. What was the religious attitude in your parents' home?
* Complete testimony is recorded in mimeographed transcript, 8, 9, 14, 15 October 1947, pp. 475-756.


A. My parents were both practicing protestants.

Q. Where did you spend your childhood and adolescence?

A. Up to the last school year, I lived in my home town and worked on the farm in my leisure hours.

Q. You emphasize the fact that you worked on your father's farm. Does that have any special significance in your development?

A. Unconsciously, I got to know the conditions and ways of handling a farm and got to know the human conditions in a farm district, that is, the cooperation and living together of farmers, industrial workers, peasants, merchants, tradesmen, and people of other trades. The rest of the time my professional development proceeded along with my political development. These conditions of administration, culture, religion, and education, as I got to know them in that village, always remained with me, and they became the leading motives for my own philosophy.

Q. What kind of education did you have?

A. After a few years of public school and high school, I graduated from the Gymnasium.

Q. Where and what did you study?

A. I studied in Leipzig, in Goettingen, and my fields were law and economics. Later, after my graduation, I spent one year in Italy studying the Fascist system and the Fascist philosophy of international law.

Q. Are you married?

A. Yes.

Q. Since when?

A. Since 1934.

Q. Do you have any children?

A. Yes. I have 5 children from 2 to 11 years of age.

Q. When did you become a member of the Nazi Party?

A. In 1925.

Q. How did you come to enter the Nazi Party?

A. I have been interested in politics from my earliest days on. When I was 16 years old, I was director of a youth group of the German National People's Party; but I was not sufficiently bourgeois and involved in the class system not to turn my back very quickly on this bourgeois party, since its special interests and political methods could not appeal to me. However, on the other hand, I was too closely connected with the moral, religious, and social philosophy of the traditional bourgeoisie to become a Marxist for instance. But at that time I recognized that the social demands were a truly national problem, a problem, that is to say, concerning the whole people, and I recognized that the national demands were also a truly social problem. These two points of view seemed likely to find the best solution in National Socialism


in my opinion. In addition, I was attracted very much by the principle of achievement and the fact that active people were taken as criterion for building up the social organism, which was symbolically expressed in the term "Worker's Party". The doctrine of the national idea was also attractive to me, that is, the doctrine that peoples are independent organisms which by themselves and in themselves have to solve their own problems.

Q. What activity did you engage in in the Nazi Party?

A. In 1925 and 1926 I did everything which had to be done by every member in the relatively small organization at that time. I was head of a district group. I sold papers. I posted posters. I participated in discussions and spoke in gatherings. I went from house to house and from man to man.

Q. Were you at that time a member of the SS too?

A. From what I have just said, it can be gathered that at that time the various functions were not separated as yet. There were not yet any suborganizations of the Party. Thus, the question of participating in the functions of the SS was not a question of becoming a member. Rather, I, together with four other members of the Party, was detailed for service in the new SS functions, but since I left my home town shortly afterwards, I did not get to perform that service. I was merely crossed off the list and, therefore, never found out under what number I was registered.

Q. What was your activity in the Party after 1926?

A. In 1926 there were the first differences between myself and my superiors in the Party. I did not agree with my superiors' personal and factual views. Therefore, from 1926 to 1933 I did not work within the official party. On the other hand, on my own, especially in the years 1927 to 1931 as a student in Goettingen, I was very actively engaged in spreading national socialism by arranging gatherings by myself, by arranging discussions, and especially I conducted training courses. These courses were probably the first which were systematically started in the Party.

* * * * * * * * * *

DR. ASCHENAUER: What was your activity in the Party after 1933?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: After the assumption of power in 1933, I was Referendar at the district court in Hildesheim, and as such I lived in my home town once more. I led my own district group in my own town again temporarily. I directed the professional group for law at the district court at Hildesheim. Furthermore, again I conducted training courses among the officials in the clear consciousness that the influx of a lot of non-National Socialists into the Party could no longer be prevented, which made a clarification of the Fascist and Nazi doctrines all


the more necessary. During this time this theme was the subject of my speeches, and despite the efforts, I could not prevent this influx of many non-National Socialists into the Party. This activity lasted until October 1933.

Q. When did you join the Institute for World Economics in Kiel?

A. October 1933.

Q. How did that come about?

A. My inclinations were always divided between politics and learning. Since I knew on how little National Socialism was actually based, I was very pleased to accept an offer from Professor Jessen which enabled me to combine learning and economics. He offered me a position at the Institute for World Economics in Kiel as his personal assistant, and at the same time gave me the opportunity of building up a department of National Socialism and Fascism. Thus it was our common goal to examine Fascism scientifically, and at the same time to enrich the substance of National Socialism. Personally, it was my intention to study philosophy and sociology and prepare for an academic post in economics.

Q. How long were you active as a research assistant?

A. I was with Professor Jessen from October 1933 to March 1934, and I remained at Kiel without him until the fall of 1934.

Q. How was it that your activity terminated so shortly?

A. About New Year of 1934 Professor Jessen and I had objected very strenuously against National Bolshevistic tendencies of the Party at Kiel, especially, because these National Bolshevist circles had built up an organization in almost all Reich Ministries. As the result of this fight on our part I was, in February 1934, arrested at the request of the Party with several other students. Professor Jessen evaded this arrest because he was sick. He had to leave Kiel since his opponents and my opponents, especially in the Ministry of Culture actually held the power. After Professor Jessen left, the Ministry of Culture demanded in the fall of 1934 that I be dismissed from Kiel, because I was a factor of political unrest there.

Q. What did this event mean for your scientific plans, for your scholastic plans?

A. Since the departments of the Ministry of Culture were against me, my scholastic career was at an end.

Q. What activity did you decide to engage in now?

A. Jessen and I took up the fight against these people with other groups in the Party and formulated the plan to build the commercial high school in Berlin into an economics institute in order to fight these National Bolshevist forces which were espe-


cially active in economics, in order to oppose them with real representatives of National Socialism. Jessen was to be provost of this school, and I was to aid him in building up the school. For this purpose I went to Berlin in December 1934, but these plans fell through also because of the Party, in this case on the part of Rosenberg. In the paper, the "Voelkischer Beobachter," an article appeared against Jessen which called a book by Jessen antinational. Rosenberg objected to Jessen. The Culture Minister, Rust, did not dare to make him director of the school. Thus my scholastic plans were definitely at an end, but simultaneously my political activity was also at an end, insofar as the director of the Reich School of National Socialist Economics, Dr. Wagner, warned me, at the request of an organization in Munich, against attacking National Socialist politics in my speeches, such speeches which were especially directed against the policies of the Reich Food Office would no longer be tolerated.

Q. How long did you remain in the Institute for Applied Economic Sciences?

A. Now I was without any professional goal, directed a library in the Institute for Applied Economic Sciences and furthermore held meetings with students. I had already described them briefly, but those forces also destroyed my student meetings so that I was definitely at an end in Berlin.

Q. Are you speaking of the time 1935-1936?

A. Yes.

Q. In May 1936, you entered into the service of the SD. How did that come about?

A. This same Professor Jessen who had called me to Kiel and Berlin now offered me a post in the SD, namely, specialist on economics, a position which had been offered to him too. Until that time I was not familiar with the SD. Professor Jessen arranged a meeting with the leader of the SD, at that time Professor Hoehn, and in this discussion I told him what my political opinions were, and to my surprise he answered that these very political critical opinions concerning practical National Socialism were just what the SD was looking for. Since there was no more public criticism, this would be an organization which would have as its mission to inform the leading organizations of the Party and the state about National Socialist developments, and especially as regards wrong tendencies, abuses, etc.

Q. What was the concrete mission assigned to the SD?

A. I was told to build up an economic news service, to create an organization which would be in a position to give all the information in the field of economics which was essential for National Socialist leaders to know concerning mistaken developments. This


was the motive which induced me to enter the SD and thus the SS in 1936.

Q. Now, before going into any more important questions concerning the charges of the prosecution, 1 would like to finish the story of your professional career. How did your position in the SD develop further?

A. The position in the SD was somewhat different from what I had expected. The chief of the SD had exaggerated to me insofar as he described an SD, which in reality did not yet exist. The whole central organization which I found consisted of about twenty young people without any typists, without any registry, without any aids at all, and with no Reich-wide organization. No one even knew what they wanted in detail. Such individual cases were dealt with, which happened to come along in such an embryonic organization. The natural interests of the chief were practically the entire content of the SD. He was a political scientist and university teacher, and thus the SD was first concerned with universities and political science. Here I began to work in the field of economics, laid the basis for an information service in which information was gathered about economic factors in Germany, and I tried to find specialists who would be in a position to analyze the economic tendencies, to evaluate them and sum them up. This work found approval, and around the turn of the years 1936-37, I became Chief of Staff of the SD Inland, that is, representative of the chief, with the special mission of transferring the system I had developed to the other fields. The basis for comprehensive information service was worked out and organized. In 1936 we already find a small scale picture of the later office III of the Reich Security Main Office. The SD Central Department II-2 had three groups which encompassed all the spheres of national life — group I, culture, learning, education, and folkdom; group II, law and administration, questions of Party and State, universities and student organizations; group III, all departments of economics.

Q. Did you have any difficulty in your work?

A. The difficulties developed very rapidly when Himmler noticed what was being developed here. The difficulties came from the cultural sphere and from the economic sphere. In the years 1936 and 1937, the development of the Four Year Plan and the success of the ideologies of the Reich Food Estate as the allegedly only National Socialist policies had gained strong influence within the middle class. Hundreds of thousands of plants were closed. I intervened in this development with my young SD. We not only tried to understand these developments and to point out the catastrophic consequences, but we also took a hand personally


by personal conferences which we backed up with our information material so that many difficulties arose in the closing down of these plants. At the same time we tried to point out to Himmler the damaging effects of these measures. And now the first sharp difference of opinion arose, because the Reich Food Estate under Darre¹ was the actual basis and support of Himmler's ideologies, and therefore, he objected to my reports as being against Darre. He was not familiar with the factual problems. Since we also took a hand in the cultural problems and objected to the retirement of the old professors by the Party and called attention to the fact that the opportunistic young careerists were certainly not fit to replace the wisdom of the old professors, Himmler called me on the carpet for the first time. He called me a pessimist and this clung to me all the time. Besides, Himmler stated that the SD had no business in these questions, but that they were to be left to the Party. In the year 1937 the chief of the SD, Professor Hoehn, was dismissed through the intervention of Streicher.²

After the director was gone, the mission of the SD was to be changed, and therefore those persons were put on the shelf who had so far determined the line of new development. Since I was not prepared to give up my ideas on the subject as I saw it, I was myself put on the shelf and again restricted to the economic department. Since I no longer saw any chance for the development of the SD in this position and did not want to work on other tasks, I asked for my release. Heydrich refused this, but after long negotiations I succeeded, in the spring of 1938, in getting permission to leave the SD as a full-time occupation and to become an official in the economic administration.

In June 1938, I became business manager of the Reichsgruppe Handel³ and in November 1939, I became the chief business manager of this group. During this time I only worked in the SD sporadically, for after giving up my full-time work, my fellow-defendant Seibert became my deputy in the economic group and now actually directed the work.

Q. Why did you accept a position in the Reich Group Commerce?

A. I have already mentioned that the most decisive factor in
¹ Richard Walther Darre, Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture, 1933-1945; Head of the Reich Food Estate, 1934-1945. Defendant in case of Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al. See vol. XII, XIII, and XIV.
² Gauleiter of Franconia, editor in chief of the antisemitic newspaper "Der Stuermer". Defendant before the International Military Tribunal. See Trial of the Major War Criminals. Vol.. I-XLII Nuremberg, 1947.
³ The German Economy, under National Socialist rule, was organized into seven Reich groups (Reichsgruppen) one of which was the "Reichsgruppe Handel" — Reich Group Commerce. See case of Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al., vols. XII, XIII and XIV.


those years, 1936, 1937, and 1938, was that unemployment was not only overcome but that, as a result of the accumulation of tasks through the Four Year Plan, about one million businesses of the middle class were actually threatened. We had taken up this question since in our opinion it was the mission of National Socialism to fight collectivization but not by proletarizing the independent middle classes and, by dissolving independent plants, to increase this collectivization. In attempting to prevent this I found that only the professional representatives of commerce shared my views, and so I went to this Reich Group Commerce in order to pursue in practical policy the aims which could no longer be pursued in the SD.

DR. ASCHENAUER: Your Honor, before I proceed with questioning my witness, I would like to clarify a few mistakes which were made in the translation. A list of incorrect points becomes evident from the comparison between the English and German. I would like to point out that Ohlendorf was the staff leader of Professor Hoehn and not staff leader in the SD.

Two — it was said — alleged National Socialist policies in the Reich Food Estate * * * "alleged" was not translated.

Furthermore, leaving the SD Main Office was mentioned, not leaving the SD itself. The words "main office" were left out. These three things were incorrect.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Dr. Aschenauer, your remarks, of course, will be incorporated into the record and we can assure you that the correct version will appear in the final transcript, because everything which is stated here in Court is automatically recorded on a film and from that the transcript is eventually prepared.

DR. ASCHENAUER: Yes. Thank you very much, your Honor.

Herr Ohlendorf, how did it come about that in spite of your very responsible task in the Reich Group Commerce in September 1939 you became the Chief of the Office SD Inland in the Reich Security Main Office?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The SD Main Office had collapsed in 1938 because in the meantime the Gestapo, because of the complete centralization of the political police forces by the Reich Leader SS and Chief of the German Police, had by then been extended so far that apart from the immediate fighting of opponents in the executive, they also kept the information service exclusively in their own hands.

The intelligence service about opponents which had been legitimized by the Party as the SD had, in the years 1936 and 1937, been more and more restricted, and in 1938, through the decree concerning the separation of functions, which defined the com-


petencies of the State Police and SD, it was finally dissolved.

The second reason was that the Reich Leader SS, Himmler, tried now to take up his old plans and form a State Security Corps by one decisive measure. Having delimited the functions of the Gestapo and the SD, he now wanted to include them in one new organization, the Reich Security Main Office. This was to be the first step in the founding of the State Security Corps. This idea he later extended to such an extent that even the inner administration was to be taken over into the State Security Corps. The SS, the police, the SD and the internal administration were supposed to be taken over into the State Security Corps and the SS was supposed to be responsible for all this. That was the beginning.

Now the difficulty for him was that he dared not tell the Party about his plans because the Party had legitimized the SD as an information service, because the SD was a Party affiliation through the SS but it was never prepared to grant the state the right of such an assignment and even perhaps legitimize it through the Party.

Now, of course, the information service concerning opponents had been dropped, and with it the information service which the Party had legitimized as the SD. Now there existed a double difficulty with regard to the Party. One did not want to give up the SD as an information service because the Party was already developing its own information service and would now have had the possibility of claiming this information service officially too, because the Reich Leader SS no longer had an intelligence service to offer them.

On the other hand, Himmler wanted to take over the intelligence service from the Party in order to amalgamate it with the Gestapo in the State Security Corps, but this never succeeded. Up to the collapse, the Reich Security Main Office, as an institution, was never an official agency, but the official one remained the Security Police, that is, the Gestapo and the criminal police. The Main Security Police Office was not dissolved, although in the Reich Security Main Office, the state police formed office IV and the criminal police formed office V. The SD Main Office also continued to exist as an official party institution, although internally the administration was handled in Office I and Office II of the State organization. This Reich Security Main Office, therefore, was only an internal administrative set-up of the Reich Leader SS to prepare his State Protection Corps, but it never became an official agency within the State or Party. Thus, through a decree, it was expressly forbidden to use the letterhead of "Reich Security Main Office" for any external correspondence.


Now Himmler was confronted with the difficulty of preventing the Party from extending its own information service and on the other hand, therefore, of keeping the SD in this form as a façade towards the Party. As the information service concerning opponents was dissolved, and as Central Department II-1 of the SD, which had carried on research concerning opponents, no longer existed, all that remained in the SD were the embryonic beginnings of the sphere information service, namely Central Department II-2. As the Reich Leader SS did not really intend to extend the sphere information service which had already caused so much difficulty, and as Heydrich did not intend to develop the SD with regard to organization and personnel to the necessary extent, the solution of an external façade was sufficient for him. This was an emergency solution, insofar as the former strength of the SD had become exhausted in the long fight during the years 1936, 1937, and 1938, especially against Best, the deputy of Heydrich for the Main Security Police Office. Therefore, there was no person who on this new basis could establish anything like tolerable relations with the state police. As the SD was not taken really seriously by Himmler and by Heydrich, I remained full-time business manager of the Reich Group Commerce; in November 1939 I was even authorized to become the main business manager officially, i.e., to represent the complete organization of about 900,000 members officially with respect to all agencies of the Reich. I remained honorary leader in the SD and I only worked in the SD sporadically for a few hours now and then and I saw no possibility for the time being to create a different situation from the one I left in 1938.

Q. Making you chief of office III was, therefore, not proof of any special confidence in you on the part of Himmler and Heydrich, was it?

A. No, as I said already, it was only an emergency solution since there was no serious intention of expanding this office.

Q. How did the practical examples you have given affect your position and work in the SD Inland?

A. The work in the SD Inland formed the basis for all the difficulties and all the set-backs and defeats which came later. The SD Inland, the only branch as from September 1939 of the SD within the Reich, remained illegal. The Party had not approved this formation of the SD and it was not prepared to approve it. Himmler himself did not legitimize this SD either. He was not prepared to cover this SD, and he let it and its men down whenever they were attacked from any side. It was not possible for the contents of the business distribution plan of Central Department II-2 which I showed just now — it was not


possible to expand Office III, which covered all the spheres of life of the German people, sufficiently for it to be able to fulfill its wide and extensive tasks. This became evident very soon, especially first of all on my own person. Although I became the chief of office III, only in September 1939, we already had the first big crisis at the beginning of November. Heydrich sent me on an official trip with Himmler, and during its course disputes arose, the consequence of which was that in Warsaw he had me informed, through his chief adjutant Karl Wolff, that I must leave his services, that agreement between us about the work was not possible.

Q. What was the reason for this disagreement with Himmler?

A. He reproached me that the members of the SD in Poland had not been able to carry out the treatment of the Jews in the form he wanted and that, he said, was the product of my training. Heydrich was very pleased by this crisis with the Reich Leader (SS) because any possibility of an overshadowing of his position had been prevented. He refused to let me leave the organization and put matters right with the Reich Leader SS. During the year 1940 there were more disagreements, because the nature of the information service he instituted aroused protests from all sides. Ley* complained to Himmler about me and asked for my dismissal because of criticism in the SD reports of his development of the DAF [German Labor Front] especially of its economic enterprises. Himmler himself criticized a number of reports because he said they were defeatist and pessimistic. They came back torn up. In the negotiations with me, Heydrich now realized that I was chief business manager of the Reich Group Commerce and was as such exempted from the draft — that means I was obligated to serve in the Reich Group Commerce during the war and that he had thus almost completely lost his power over me. And so, in 1940, the crisis with Heydrich took on a very acute form. He demanded on various occasions that I join the army. This was prevented because, meanwhile, the chief of the Reich Group Commerce had been drafted, and apart from the business management, I also took over the position of chief of the Reich Group Commerce. Therefore, he went over to demanding that I should leave the Reich Group Commerce.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: May I interrupt, please. Witness, would you please indicate specifically just what were these differences between you and Himmler — briefly, but specifically.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The differences of opinion between Himmler and myself were differences of temperament and of
* Leader of the German Labor Front. Indicted by the IMT but committed suicide shortly after the serving of the indictment.


politics. I am now using his expressions: I was the unbearable, humorless Prussian, an unsoldierly type, a defeatist, and damned intellectual.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Are we to understand that you mean by that, that you anticipated the defeat of Germany?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The SD in its reports pointed out the many difficulties which might make the success of the war questionable, that is why he called me a defeatist.


DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: What was most disagreeable to him was that in our administrative reports we wanted to bring about constitutional conditions under all circumstances. We made it quite clear to him that if the order of the state was destroyed, the demands of a major war could not possibly be met.

Now I would like to describe Himmler. I called Himmler a Bavarian because he called me a Prussian. He did not want orderly conditions. He was the representative of dualism. He tried to imitate Hitler on a small scale. Hitler himself followed the type of policy so fatal to us, of assigning tasks not to organizations but to individual persons, and wherever possible he assigned one and the same task to several individuals. This was imitated by Himmler. Although for him there was no reason whatsoever to fear that one of his functionaries would become too powerful, he believed he could prevent his individual functionaries from becoming more powerful than himself in this way. A practical example, which will also occupy the Tribunal in Case No. 8* is the handling of ethnic [Volkstum] questions. These questions were handled by five different offices without the competency for the individual tasks being made clear. When I suggested to Himmler that these questions should be dealt with as an entity, this was a further reason for his utterances in Warsaw asking for my replacement. Thus was his basic structure. He was a practical man, an opportunist of the day, who was in no way prepared to deal with matters in an organized manner — rather, he liked to employ individual people from day to day, to raise them up and to drop them again. In my opinion this was bound to destroy the whole order of a nation even in peacetime, and of course, especially in as serious a war as Germany had to wage. What separated me most from him was the wilfulness of the individual decisions not in regard to the actual tasks he assigned, but in the legitimization of people who were in part not qualified, corrupt, or so fixed in their views that they could feel no impulse of leadership — it may even be that he appointed them

* United States vs. Ulrich Greifelt, et al. See Vols. IV and V.


perhaps for this reason so that on the other hand, he could intervene in the decisions of an agency and thus many very important matters were never brought to a satisfactory solution. The difference between us was that I regarded politics objectively, and I wanted to make men the subject of politics while he regarded politics merely from the point of view of his own person and his tactical position, and he subordinated affairs to this tactical position. If we judge the matter from the German point of view, Himmler became a parasite of our own people, not so much because of what he did, but because of what he did not do. He had a power which has led to the terrible judgment of him and the SS, and in reality he did not exercise this power in Germany but he and his power were an empty shell, and in this we have the important element of his crime against humanity too, that through the police, through a unit like the SS, and later through his direction of the Ministry of the Interior, he had the power which would have enabled him to see the damage and would have given him the possibility to remove this damage and to create orderly conditions.

DR. ASCHENAUER: Witness, you have pointed out the difference between Himmler and yourself. How is it that in spite of this you returned to Berlin in June 1942 and took over office III?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: In June 1942, Heydrich died as a result of an attempt on his life. Himmler himself took over the leadership of the Reich Security Main Office with the clear intention of weakening it, because Heydrich was the only SS leader who had grown above his, Himmler's, head. Purely externally, Heydrich as the Reich Protector already ranked above Himmler on the official list of Reich agencies. When Himmler was in charge of the Reich Security Main Office, he weakened it in two important points. He took the economic authority away from the Reich Security Main Office and transferred it to Pohl,* the head of the Economic Administrative Main Office (WVHA), and he also took away the personnel authority of the Reich Security Main Office and transferred it to the SS Main Personnel Office. Everyone who knows about agencies knows what this weakening means. Himmler was not present at that time in Berlin, that is, the Reich Security Main Office had no management and no leadership. Thus he was forced to let the different offices work independently. As office III had not been given a deputy while I was in Russia, I was the only one who, during his absence from Berlin, could direct office III. Furthermore, it was a tactical measure which, in my opinion, was intended to avoid documenting his weakening measures of the Reich Security Main Office by taking away the office chief
* Chief of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA). Defendant in case of Oswald Pohl, et al. See Vol. V.


from the office and then appointing a person who had no authority, either internally or externally.

Q. What was the development of your relations with Himmler after this?

A. When I returned from Russia in July, I was ordered to report to Himmler. In August he received me in his headquarters in a very friendly manner.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: May we suspend just for a moment? There seems to be something wrong with the transmission here. We don't quite get all of it. I would like to speak to the interpreters here * * *.

Very well, thank you.

DR. ASCHENAUER: We were just dealing with the question of the development of your relations with Himmler.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: After my return from Russia, I reported at the headquarters to report to Himmler about the situation in office III. I was received in a very friendly manner. He promoted me to brigadier general of the SS [Brigadefuehrer], and he told me that he planned to make me a brigadier general of the police. This friendly manner, of course, had its ulterior motives, because he continued Heydrich's demands that I should leave the Reich Group Commerce and become an official in the Reich Security Main Office. I explained to him that I had to ask him not to make me an official of the Reich Security Main Office and not to make me a brigadier general of the police, and why the SD, office III, had to remain independent under all circumstances, that is, it had to remain a free organization, and its members had to be Party employees. I made it quite clear to him that the Party would never stand for a state organization taking over an information service in which the work of the Party would also be dealt with in any way. I also made it clear to him that the SD could only carry out the task which it had tackled if it remained quite free of any appearance of being a police organization, because this organization was collecting the most able experts of all departments. They, however, were not prepared even to give the impression that they were connected with the police in any way at all. Apart from that, through this connection with the Gestapo, the most important principle of the SD would be abandoned, namely, to be independent of any department, but to work without any individual responsibility and in no connection with other departments, completely independently. This alone would justify the SD in approaching other departments with its criticism, which, otherwise could no longer be considered objective criticism but would be regarded as the opinion of one department as against that of another. This, of course, led to a completely new disagree-

ment. Himmler reproached me with very harsh words and asked me to not try and teach him anything. He knew exactly what best served the interests of the SS, and what meaning the State Security Corps had for him. I was dismissed in disgrace, and this was the second time in my activity of nine years in the SD that I had the chance to speak to Himmler alone. When Kaltenbrunner¹ took over the office and became Himmler's successor in January 1943, Himmler spoke of the office III and its chief with ironical words, and said they were the "guardians of the Holy Grail of National Socialism and of the SS who stood whining over the broken ideas" and thought that now everything was lost. Thus, we were again publicly denounced as nuisances, pessimists, and defeatists. But it was only now that the actual crisis of the SD started, because after Stalingrad² conditions in Germany became more and more difficult. The more difficult these conditions in Germany became, the more critical, of course, became the reports of the SD. And now, Himmler was no longer prepared to cover this activity on the part of the SD but, on the contrary, he used the complaints of his colleagues in the Reich offices and pushed them on to the SD.

I'll give you a few examples. In the spring of 1943, Goebbels had tried through an act of force — or you can call it a coup de theater — to gain the internal power in Germany. It was the famous Sports Palace rally, the famous declaration of total war. Goebbels himself asked the next morning for a report from the SD on the effects of this rally; and he got this report. In this report it was said that among the population of all Germany, in all districts, this declaration in the Sports Palace was disapproved of and disagreed with and that it was called a Punch and Judy show. This led to Goebbels’ achieving a ban on "reports from the Reich". These reports from the Reich were the summaries of reports of all spheres of the SD, which were sent by us to all Reich agencies, and in the administrative practice of the Reich were the only source of information of the departments about difficulties of the other departments. With this, the most important organ and most important functions of the SD were abolished and destroyed.

The reasons he gave were that these reports were so defeatist that not even Reich Minister Lammers³ and Goering, who,
¹ Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Lt. General of the SS, Head of the Reich Security Main Office, Chief of the Security Police and SD. Defendant before the IMT. See The Trial of the Major War Criminals, vols. I-XLII, Nuremberg, 1947.
² The retreat of the German armies from Stalingrad in March 1943, the turning point of the Russian campaign.
³ Hans Heinrich Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery, defendant in case of Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al. See Vols. XII, XIII, XIV.


because of his pressure, were the only ones to receive these reports, and all other information received, were not able to overcome this defeatism. Gauleiter Koch, the Reich Minister in the eastern territories, had through his own information service in the Party Chancellery learned of the reports which I had issued against his policy of force in Russia. He complained to the Reich Leader SS, and the Reich Leader SS wrote a letter to Kaltenbrunner in which he instructed him to decimate office III and its subsidiary offices in the Reich to reprimand its chief and to threaten him that if these unnecessary reports did not stop, the SD would be dissolved completely and the chief arrested. Bormann * and Ley were the next people to take this direction. Ley, without informing us, forbade the holders of office and shop stewards of the German Labor Front any collaboration with the SD. Because of the unjustified work of the SD, Bormann threatened to speak to the Fuehrer, which was to have the effect that the Fuehrer would take the chief of office III where he belonged, and his people would be put to more productive work.

When, in spite of this, I continued to send out my reports, Bormann in 1944 also forbade all Party officials, Party affiliations, and Party employees, down to the charwomen to have any activity within the SD. This fight which Bormann put up continued until April 1945; and it was such a heavy fight that even Kaltenbrunner, who on the whole approved of my work, asked me urgently to stop the Reich reports, or at least to camouflage them as reports on opponents or sabotage. The reports of this time regarding the leadership situation within the Reich, which fell into the hands of the English, showed the Allies that this manner of reporting was not given up in spite of all and in spite of the threats it was still possible to submit the strongest reports about the leadership situation of the Reich, about the complete internal dissolution of leadership, and about the collapse of the air force to the Fuehrer through roundabout channels.

According to my knowledge — that is the tragedy of the SD — these were the only reports which only in the midst of the catastrophe were submitted to Hitler. I myself did not know Hitler personally nor did I ever have the possibility of submitting a report to him or even of speaking to him.

Q. How did it come about that you were appointed into the Reich Economics Ministry?

A. My professional development was conditioned by my work in the Reich Group Commerce. This work gained more importance and significance than was usual for a group in the professional
* Chief of the Party Chancellery, defendant in absentia before the International Military Tribunal. See Trial of the Major War Criminals. Vole. I-XLII


organization because the neighboring groups of industry, the crafts, banking, insurance companies, and transport did not have any political people in them. They were not prepared to work politically on the policy of the economic ministries, especially the Armaments Ministry, which was restricting and in part destructive for them. As I entered this policy with political arguments, my own significance in economic policy was a much bigger one than can be understood from the point of view of commerce. This was increased by the fact that even in the Economics Ministry there were no political personalities who were prepared to discuss the differences with the Party, or the political person Speer¹, who was the Fuehrer's trusted representative in defense matters. Thus in the years 1939 and 1940, from the Reich Group Commerce, we were the main consultants in the field of economic policy against all collectivistic and socialistic tendencies which were connected with the names of Speer and Bormann.

Funk² was in agreement with my activity. He especially approved of my work against the so-called self-responsibility of economy, that is, against the condition that the state authority as a state vanished, and instead of the state, economic leaders entered who took over the authority of the state, but at the same time were competitors in competition with each other. This not only opened the gates wide for corruption but created for me a basic condition for the economic loss of the war, because the competitors were no longer prepared to reveal their actual output to the competitor. Large masses of the people felt themselves confronted no longer by an objective state but individual economic hyenas and monopolists. Therefore, the differences between economy and the state were bound to become larger and larger. Funk approved of these reports of mine and, therefore, asked for my entry into the Reich Ministry of Economics.

In the spring of 1943, I was to become Second State Secretary in the Ministry of Economics. Himmler categorically refused my transfer into the Reich Ministry of Economics and for the very reason that caused Funk to ask for my transfer into the Reich Ministry of Economics. Himmler also recognized the significance of the economic development as a monopolistic capitalism such as we had never known. But in a letter to me he refused my transfer to the Ministry of Economics, giving the reason that he did not want an SS leader to be exposed in this fight against
¹ Reich Minister for Armaments and Munition. Defendant before the International Military Tribunal See Trial of the Major War Criminals, Vols. I-XLII
² Reich Minister of Economics. Defendant before the International Military Tribunal. See Trial of the Major War Criminals, Vols. I-XLII.


capitalism because this fight could no longer be waged within this war. After the Ministry of Economics collapsed in the summer of 1943 Funk again tried and through a tactical maneuver succeeded in anticipating a decision by Himmler; and Himmler now agreed.

Q. How was your last discussion with Himmler?

A. My relationship with Himmler was bound to deteriorate even more, because my new work in the Reich Ministry of Economics was added to the old crisis, because what our predecessors had not been able to do we now took upon us. We tried to force Pohl and the Economic and Administrative Main Office to put the cards of the SS concern on the table. We told him that we would not stand for any further expansion of this SS structure either in Germany or in foreign countries. During the course of these differences Himmler, in the summer of 1944, sent for me and Heider, State Secretary in the Ministry of Economics to come to Berchtesgaden. He explained to us why this policy must not be pursued by us in opposition to his economic activity. We refused any agreement; but he had already created an accomplished fact in Hungary by a deal with the Weiss combine,¹ securing the Weiss enterprise for the SS. As for us, the right was on our side in this case; and as normally he had nothing on us, he used the next occasion to begin a new correspondence of a very serious and slanderous character. The reason was the economic reform plan which I had drafted in the autumn of 1944. It was intended in the economic field at least to establish an orderly and constitutional administration. Himmler agreed at first, until Bormann objected, because he was preventing any consolidation of the state and furthermore he did not want a curtailment of the power and authority of the Gaue [districts] which he regarded as an anti-Party measure.

Himmler now changed his opinion and agreed with Bormann. He disavowed my reform suggestions, which he said were academical reports representing a waste of intelligence. But at the end, our relations were of a different nature. In the last fortnight before the collapse, I turned over my quarters in Flensburg and Ploen to Himmler. Only now did really serious discussions begin, and now he was more approachable. One can say that these were good discussions between us — only the end was more or less like the beginning because at the end I tried to cause him not only to dissolve the Werwolf² activities which he did, but also to dissolve the SS and turn himself over to the Allies. In trying to
¹ Leading industrialist of Jewish origin.
² National Socialist underground organization formed shortly before the surrender of Germany for the purpose of combating the occupation by the Allies.


cause him to do so, I put it to him that he alone could in a responsible manner explain to the Allies the tasks which he had given to the SS, and he would have to take this responsibility. He refused and escaped without saying good-by.


PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: What was the date of this discussion with Himmler when the witness recommended the dissolution of the SS and the going over to the Allies?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: That was 9 May, your Honor, 1945.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Well, it was all over then, wasn't it?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: No ; it was not all over in a manner of speaking because the Flensburg government¹ was in power, and the Allies had agreed to this so-called Flensburg government. This government was actually officially in power until 23 May 1945, although only in an area the size of the territory of a Landrat (district council). Between 9 and 23 May, there were still government reshuffles. Only on that date did Himmler leave the government as Reich Minister and as the commander of the reserve army. He had been of the belief that via his officer, Schellenberg² the Allies wanted to negotiate with him and needed him as a factor for order in Europe. On these conversations of Schellenberg via Bernadotte, the Chief of the Red Cross in Sweden, with Churchill and the British Government, Himmler really relied until the day of his escape, in fact, even until the day before his death. Even after he escaped he sent me one or two orderlies every day to inquire whether Schellenberg had returned from Sweden, or whether Field Marshal Montgomery had answered the letter which he had written him on 9 May.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: But when you say that on 9 May you were discussing whether you should go over to the Allies, it's like the mouse discussing whether it should go over to the cat. You had already surrendered.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Yes, but as I just stated, this small district of the Flensburg government, with the locality Muerwik and Gluecksburg, had not surrendered because at that place there were official negotiations between the control commission of the Allies with the government and the Chief of Government of the German Reich. I may draw your attention to the fact, your

¹ The government set up under Admiral of the Fleet Doenitz after the announcement of the death of Hitler.
² Brigadier General of the SS Chief of the Foreign Intelligence Division of the Reich Security Main Office, Office Chief in the SD. Defendant in case of United States vs. Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al. See Vols. XII, XIII, XIV.


Honor, that at the surrender negotiations the Allies asked Jodl,¹ Keitel,² and Friedeburg³ to certify the official position of Doenitz as head of state, and he with his government actually remained in power until 23 May 1945.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: But you didn't seriously believe that you could successfully hold out against the combined Allied Power after 8 May, did you?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: No. I think we must have misunderstood each other, your Honor, because I had only two intentions. One was to prevent SS units from being formed into underground movements. Therefore, I tried to cause Himmler to dissolve the SS officially, to order them to submit to their fate, and as far as possible to work with the Allies in a positive sense. I also tried to cause Himmler to go over to the Allies and put himself at the disposal of the Allies, so that he could tell them what the tasks of the SS were, why he had given them these tasks, and to answer for them.

Q. Were you in daily contact with Himmler following 8 May?

A. Yes.

Q. Until when? A. At least until 19 May, I believe even until the 21st through the orderlies. He had camouflaged himself and was living in a disguise under which he then was delivered into a prisoner-of-war camp.

Q. How did you submit yourself to the Allies?

A. When Himmler told me that I was afraid for myself and afraid for my own life, I told him that I had already made up my mind to put myself at the disposal of the Allies and to take my own responsibility for what I had made of the SD. I could not leave it to anybody else to take responsibility for the activities of the SD; and although I was not arrested on the afternoon when the rest of the government was arrested, after asking for it three times, I achieved the status of being arrested.

Q. When was that? What date? A. That was on the 23d of May.

Q. Then they favored you by arresting you?

A. Yes, on the 23d of May.

DR. ASCHENAUER: Witness, did you report voluntarily for the campaign in Russia?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: No, on the contrary. Twice I was

¹ Chief of Staff of the OKW ; defendant before the IMT. See Trial of the Major War Criminals, Vols. I-XLII.
² Chief of the Supreme Command of the German Armed Forces, Defendant before the IMT. (Ibid.)
³ Admiral Friedeburg committed suicide.


directed to go to Russia and twice I refused. Then I got the third order which I could no longer evade.

Q. Why didn't Heydrich from the beginning simply give orders? It was certainly not customary to negotiate with any of his subordinates?

A. He was forced to insofar as I was on call for the Reich Group Commerce — I had a note in my military passport which obligated me in case of war to be at the disposal of the Reich Group Commerce, therefore, it was necessary that this war order be superseded by Heydrich's order. This happened for the third time by order, so that the Reich Group Trade revoked the deferment. Now I was conscripted for the Reich Leader SS; the army district command received notice that I had gone to a foreign country on a secret mission for the Reich Leader SS. After that I was made available for the Reich Security Main Office. Now I was given a note in my military passport for the Chief of the Security Police and SD.

Q. Please explain the legal situation of your membership in the SD, when you were conscripted in 1941?

A. In 1936, I joined the SD when I was given the job of building up a critical military information service. When this job was taken away from me I asked for my dismissal. This was refused to me in 1938. I was merely able to give it up as a full-time occupation which it had been. The situation with the Chief of Security Police and SD was as difficult as in the other SS organizations, because one did not enter into a contract. It was merely a unilateral loyalty agreement, and in addition to a simultaneous joining of the SS, a condition of military subordination existed. One was at the same time a military subordinate. My renewed application for dismissal in November 1939 was again refused. By now the position of the Chief of Security Police and SD had become even stronger. In the meantime through a decree the Security Police and SD were listed as being on a war emergency status, and in the renewed decree it was added that even an application to leave this organization would be forbidden. This application was even punishable. In this manner it was no longer possible after 1939 even to file an application to leave. This last remark applied to a general condition, since through the wish of the Reich Leader SS, I had the possibility in November 1939 to make a renewed application. Therefore, when I was conscripted for the Russian campaign in 1941, 1 was not a voluntary member of the SD, or of the SS. I was conscripted for the campaign.

Q. How did the formation of the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos come about? Were they part of the agencies of the offices of the Secret Police and the SD?


A. The Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos were neither agencies nor parts of the organization of the Reich Security Main Office. They were mobile units set up for one single purpose which were set up ad hoc for certain assignments. The members of the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos were either conscripted or were taken from the members of the security police and SD. Or they were drafted to a large extent, for example, as drivers or interpreters, whereas a large membership of the Einsatzgruppen, by order of Himmler, was made available by companies of the Waffen SS or the regular police. These Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos were no agencies or authorities, but they were military units.

Q. Were the purposes and the orders of the Einsatzgruppen made known to the men and the leaders when they were drafted?

A. No. This was not done. The leaders and men were given an order to report to Dueben or Pretzsch in Saxony. They did not get any information where they were to be committed, or what tasks they were supposed to do. Even after the units had been activated, the commanders and men did not know about it.

Q. When was the area of operation made public?

A. It was made known shortly before the units left for Russia, about three days before.
Last edited by David Thompson on 21 Sep 2004 06:01, edited 2 times in total.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 22761
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Postby David Thompson » 21 Sep 2004 04:02

Part 2 of 5:

Q. When was the order given for the liquidation of certain elements of the population in the U.S.S.R. and by whom was it handed over?

A. As far as I recollect, this order was given at the same time when the area of operations was made known. In Pretzsch, the chiefs of offices I and IV, the then Lieutenant Colonels [Obersturmbannfuehrer] Streckenbach and Mueller gave the order which had been issued by Himmler and Heydrich.

Q. What was the wording of this order?

A. This special order, for such it is, read as follows: That in addition to our general task the Security Police and SD, the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos had the mission to protect the rear of the troops by killing the Jews, gypsies, Communist functionaries, active Communists, and all persons who would endanger the security.

Q. What were your thoughts when you received this order of killings?

A. The immediate feeling with me and with the other men was one of general protest. Lieutenant Colonel Streckenbach listened to this protest, and, even gave us a few different points which we could not know, but at the same time he told us that even he himself had protested most strenuously against a similar order in the Polish campaign, but that Himmler had rebuked him just


as severely by stating that this was a Fuehrer order, which must be carried out, in order to achieve the war aim of destroying communism for all times, therefore, this order was to be accepted without hesitation.

Q. Did you consider this order as justified?

A. No; I did not. I did not consider it justified because quite independently from the necessity of taking such measures, these measures would have moral and ethical consequences which would deteriorate the mind.

Q. Did you know about plans or directives which had as their goal the extermination on racial and religious grounds?

A. I expressly assure you that I neither knew of such plans nor was I called on to cooperate in any such plans. Lieutenant General [Obergruppenfuehrer] Bach-Zelewski testified during the big trial [before the International Military Tribunal] that the Reich Leader SS in a secret conference of all lieutenant generals made known that the goal was to exterminate thirty million Slavs. I repeat that I was neither given such an order nor was there even the slightest hint given to me that such plans or goals existed for the Russian campaign. This is not only true for the Slavs but this is also true for the Jews. I know that in the years of 1938, 1939 and 1940, no extermination plans existed, but on the contrary, with the aid of Heydrich and by cooperation with Jewish organizations, emigration programs from Germany and Austria were arranged; financial funds even were raised in order to help aid the poorer Jews to make this emigration possible. In 1941, I personally helped in individual cases, where, for example, a representative of I. G. Farben called on me in order to overcome difficulties with the state police, when it was their intention also to let so-called bearers of secrets emigrate. Up to the very end I succeeded in giving such aid. Thus, at the beginning of the Russian campaign, I had no cause to assume that the execution order which we were given meant that any such extermination was planned or was to be carried out. During my time in Russia, I sent a great number of reports to the Chief of Security Police and SD in which I reported about the fine cooperation with the Russian population. They were never objected to. When Himmler was in Nikolaev in 1941, he neither made any reproaches about this, nor did he give me any other directives. I am rather convinced that where such an extermination policy was later carried out, it was not carried out by the order of the central agencies, but it was the work of individual people.

Q. Did you give any thought to the legality of such a Fuehrer order?

A. Of course I did. I knew the history of communism. From


the theory of Lenin and Stalin and from the strategy and tactics of the Bolshevist world revolution, I knew that bolshevism was to let no rules prevail other than those which would further and promote its aim. The practice of bolshevism in the Russian Civil War, in the war with Finland, in the war with Poland, in the occupation of the Baltic countries and Bessarabia, gave us the assurance and certainty that this was not only theory, but that this was carried out in practice, and in the same manner it therefore was to be expected that in this war no other laws would have any validity. This was true for the international conventions which Russia officially denounced to the German Government, as well as the international customs and usages of war, and it was true because according to this same communist ideology the customs and usages could only develop between partners who were on the same ideological basis. Just as the other class is the opponent internally who must be destroyed at all costs, according to the same ideology the other state which does not represent a Bolshevist system is the external opponent who is to be destroyed, just as the class is to be destroyed internally. The rules in this are adjusted according to the state of emergency of the moment. In this respect it was clear to me that in this war against bolshevism the German Reich found itself in a state of war emergency and of self-defense. What measures are to be taken in such a war in order to fight such an opponent on his own ground — to determine this could be only a matter to be decided by the supreme leadership which waged this war for the life or death of its people; and which, in my opinion, they certainly believed they waged also for Europe and even more for there was no doubt for us that the Four Year Plan, as well as the events of 1938 and 1939, were nothing else for Hitler but the securing of the point of departure for this war against bolshevism which was considered by him to be inevitable.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Witness, when you refer to the Russian practice in the war against Poland, were you referring to the war of 1939 when Russia was your ally?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Yes. This has nothing to do with it, or does not change the subject, the fact that Russia was our ally at the time.

Q. No. I am just asking if that is the war you are referring to ?

A. Yes, this is the war.

Q. Yes. Well, did Germany at that time also have the same practices?

A. I do not know that this happened to the same extent. That violations took place cannot be doubted.


Q. You believe that it was not as widespread as it later developed in your war against Russia? Is that what I am led to believe?

A. Yes.

DR. ASCHENAUER: Is, in your opinion, the man who receives these orders obliged to examine them when they are given to him?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: This is not possible, legally or actually. According to the general legal interpretation in Germany, not even a judge had the possibility of examining the legality of a law or an order, as little as an administrative official could examine the administrative edict of a supreme authority. But even actually it would have been presumptuous because in the position in which every one of the defendants found themselves, we did not have the possibility of actually judging the situation. It also corresponds to the moral concept which I have learned as a European tradition, that no subordinate can take it upon himself to examine the authority of the supreme commander and chief of state. He only faces his God and history.

Q. Didn't Article 47 of the Military Penal Code give you an occasion to interpret this execution order differently?

A. It is impossible for me to imagine that an article which was created to prevent excesses by individual officers or men leaves open the possibility to consider the supreme order of the supreme commander a crime. Apart from this, again according to continental concept, the chief of state cannot commit a crime.

* * * * * * * * * *

DR. ASCHENAUER: What is your conviction about the actual background of the Fuehrer order which was given to you?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I have had no cause, and I still have no cause today to think that any other goal was aimed at than the goal of any war, namely, an immediate and permanent security of our own realm against that realm with which the belligerent conflict is taking place.

Q. The prosecution states that the contents of the order and its execution was part of a systematic program of genocide which had as its aim the destruction of foreign peoples and ethnic groups. Will you please comment on this?

A. I did not have any occasion to assume any such plan. I assure you that I neither participated in plans, nor did I see any preparation for such plans which would have let me assume that such a plan existed. What was told to us was our security and those persons who were assumed to be endangering the security were designated as such.

Q. What observations did you yourself make in Russia about


the objective prerequisite that the executions of populations, according to the Fuehrer order, were necessary?

A. The experiences in Russia showed me once and for all that here the propaganda of Goebbels had not stated the truth clearly enough. I was convinced that this state, which in order to gain its ends internally, had torn many millions from their families; in the process of separating the Kulaks [well-to-do farmers] they took the adult population away three times from rural districts. This state would have even less consideration for a foreign population.

It was obvious that the number of Jews in the general population in Russia, in relation to their number in the higher administration, was very, very small. The prosecution has submitted a report from my Einsatzgruppe to the army. In this report in enclosure No. 2 it explained the situation of Jewry in the Crimea. Unfortunately, this enclosure was not available. It would have shown that in the Crimea, for example, up to 90 percent of the administrative and leading authoritative positions were occupied by Jews. The information service in the same field, conversations with innumerable Ukrainians and Russians and Tartars, and the documents which the prosecution submitted show that this was not only the case in the Crimea. For us it was obvious that Jewry in Bolshevist Russia actually played a disproportionately important role.

Three times I was present during executions. Every time I found the same facts which I considered with great respect, that the Jews who were executed went to their death singing the "International" and hailing Stalin. That the Communist functionaries and the active leaders of the Communists in the occupied area of Russia posed an actual continuous danger for the German occupation the documents of the prosecution have shown.

It was absolutely certain that by these persons the call of Stalin for ruthless partisan warfare would be followed without any reservation. Orally and in written form, the Bolshevists have attested enthusiastically to the fact that this partisan warfare was not only waged by the Communist Party and not only by the Communist functionaries; but as Stalin requested, it was waged by the population, by peasants, by workers, men, women, and children. This same literature is proud of the fact that it was waged with great treachery and cunning which the call of Stalin evoked in order to wage this war successfully. Thus our experiences in Russia were a definite confirmation of the Bolshevist theory and of the practice as we had learned about it before.

Q. What orders did you give to the Einsatzgruppen and Ein-


satzkommandos for the security of the rear area concerning the killing certain elements of the civilian population?

A. Before I testify to the various facts, I would like to say the following: The men of my group who are under indictment here were under my military command. If they had not executed the orders which they were given, they would have been ordered by me to execute them. If they had refused to execute the orders they would have had to be called to account for it by me. There could be no doubt about it. Whoever refused anything in the front lines would have met immediate death. If the refusal would have come about in any other way, a court martial of the Higher SS and Police Leader would have brought about the same consequences. The jurisdiction of courts martial was great, but the sentences of the SS were gruesome. The orders for the execution in the past given in Pretzsch went to all Einsatzgruppen commanders or Einsatzkommando leaders who went along during the beginning of the Russian campaign. They were never revoked. Thus they were valid for the entire Russian campaign as long as there were Einsatzgruppen. Thus it was, therefore, unnecessary at any time to give another order of initiative and I did not give any individual order to kill people. I emphasize this, even though I was told in England two and a half years ago that the Russians had found a written order. My mission was to see to it that this general order for executions would be carried out as humanly as conditions would permit. Therefore, I merely gave orders for the manner of carrying out these executions.

Q. What were these orders?

A. These orders had as their purpose to make it as easy as possible for the unfortunate victim and to prevent the brutality of the men from leading to inevitable excesses. Thus I first ordered that only so many victims should be brought to the place of execution as the execution commandos could handle. Any individual action by any individual man was forbidden. The Einsatzkommandos shot in a military manner only upon orders. It was strictly ordered to avoid any maltreatment, undressing was not permitted. The taking of any personal possessions was not permitted. Publicity was not permitted, and at the very moment when it was noted that a man had experienced joy in carrying out these executions, it was ordered that this man should never participate in any more executions. The men could not report voluntarily, they were ordered.

Q. What did you do to prevent a wide interpretation of these execution orders?

A. It was forbidden that the commandos undertake any executions outside of the territory occupied by the German army.


This became necessary in Chernovitsy. This was especially necessary after 10,000 Rumanians had been driven into the German area of occupation, and it became acute for Odessa, when the Rumanians tried to carry out executions beyond our orders. The commandos had the order during the execution of Communists to execute only those persons who by their proved deeds and conduct definitely represented a danger to security. Families were never seized, neither those of high functionaries nor of commissars nor of any other person. If, on the other hand, it was said that children were executed at Kerch, this was done without any connection with the Einsatzkommando there.

Q. Why did you not prevent the liquidations?

A. Even if I use the most severe standard in judging this, I had as little possibility as any of the co-defendants here to prevent this order. There was only one thing, a senseless martyrdom through suicide, senseless because this would not have changed anything in the execution of this order, for this order was not an order of the SS, it was an order of the Supreme Commander in Chief and the Chief of State; it was not only carried out by Himmler or Heydrich. The army had to carry it out too, the High Command of the Army as well as the commanders in the east and southeast who were the superior commanders for the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos. If I could imagine a theoretical possibility, then there was only the refusal on the part of those persons who were in the uppermost hierarchy and could appeal to the Supreme Commander and Chief of State, because they had the only possibility of getting access to him. They were, after all, the highest bearers of responsibility in the theater of operations.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: May I ask a question, Dr. Aschenauer?

Do I understand you to say, Witness, that the Supreme Commander in the East, that is of the Wehrmacht, also had orders to carry out this program of execution?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I know that the Supreme Command gave the commanders for the eastern campaign who had assembled on 30 March, not only information about the measures planned, but also directives to support the execution of these measures. The fact that SS and police units were used for these executions had only one reason; namely, that there was no guarantee for a systematic execution of these orders by the army troops but that one expected demoralization if army troops would be used. As the war progressed in the Southeast this principle was abandoned.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Would you say that the army


commander not only countenanced this program of executions but lent their active support to it?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Yes. That is what I want to say. If I may give you two examples for that, the executions in Simferopol by the Einsatzkommando 11b were carried out on the order of the army, and the army supplied the trucks and the gasoline and the drivers in order to bring the Jews to the places of execution. The arrests of hostages were expressly carried out by order of the supreme commander of my army. He did not agree with the executions of these hostages, because the number of executions did not seem high enough to him and afterwards he told Seibert, the defendant here, to tell me that he himself would henceforth carry out the appropriate number of executions.

Q. Did you not try in Nikolaev to dissuade the Reich Leader SS from this order?

A. The situation in Nikolaev was especially depressing in a moral sense, because in agreement with the army, we had excluded a large number of Jews, the farmers, from the executions. When the Reich Leader SS was in Nikolaev on 4 or 5 October, I was reproached for this measure and he ordered that henceforth, even against the will of the army, the executions should take place as planned.

When the Reich Leader SS arrived at my headquarters, I had assembled all available commanders of my Einsatzgruppe. The Reich Leader addressed these men and repeated the strict order to kill all those groups which I have designated. He added that he alone would carry the responsibility, as far as accounting to the Fuehrer was concerned. None of the men would bear any responsibility, but he demanded the execution of this order, even though he knew how harsh these measures were.

Nevertheless, after supper, I spoke to the Reich Leader and I pointed out the inhuman burden which was being imposed on the men in killing all these civilians. I didn't even get an answer.

Q. Could you not have refused to support the execution of this order?

A. For that I would have had to have the feeling of the illegality and the possibility of appealing to a higher authority, but I had neither of them.

Q. Could you not have, after a certain period of time, tried to evade this order by sickness?

A. As long as I thought in political terms, I no longer considered myself as an individual person who only could think and act responsibly for himself. After I had once become Chief of the Einsatzgruppe, I felt responsible for the 500 men of this group. By simulating illness, I could have evaded the mission,


but I would have betrayed my men if I had left this command. I could not leave this task and I would not have been convinced that my successor would care for his men in the same manner as I did. Despite everything, I considered this my duty and I shall consider it today as much more valuable than the cheap applause which I could have won if I had at that time betrayed my men by simulating illness.

Q. Did you issue orders of execution?

A. No.

Q. Wherein lies your participation in the carrying out of these executions?

A. It is in three points. As far as the transportation conditions permitted, I convinced myself before the large executions whether measures had been taken at the place of execution, which would make possible the conditions I set down for these executions.

The second, in order to take some burden from the Kommandos, I ordered that other distant Kommandos be detailed to support that Kommando which had to carry out an execution, and third, that, as far as possible, I tried either personally or through my men to carry out unexpected inspections during these executions. I wanted to make sure in that way that my orders about the manner of execution were being carried out.

DR. ASCHENAUER: In the indictment it says that the task of the Einsatzgruppen was, first, to follow the German army into the eastern territories, and to eliminate Soviet functionaries, gypsies, Jews, and other elements of the civilian population which were considered racially inferior, or politically unwanted. Would you say something about that, Witness?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: First, the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos never had the task to eliminate groups of the population because they were racially inferior, and even so that was not the main task. It was an additional assignment which, in itself, was foreign to the actual task of the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos, because never was such a task of the security police or of the SD for that matter — and never by any means, as it is mentioned in another place in the indictment — were they trained for such exterminations and executions. Rather, the general task of the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos was that the security of the army territory in the operational theaters should be guaranteed by them, and within the framework of this security task the execution order was, of course, one of the basic orders. But, in reality, the Einsatzgruppen's task was a positive one, if I leave out this basic order for exterminations and executions. It must be realized, of course, that a group of about 500 people who, on the average,


had charge of an area of 300 to 400 square kilometers, could not terrorize such an area, even if they had wanted to do so. Therefore, if we regard it intelligently these tasks could only be called positive ones, and as such they were developed by myself. The first experiences I collected was when the task was transferred to us by the army to harvest the overdue crop in the Transistria. The larger number of Kommandos for weeks dealt only with this one task of harvesting in Transistria; I had given orders for this measure which was the basis of my policy altogether. First, the institution of a self-administration, as it were, in the communities and the communal settlements, and also in the municipalities; secondly, a recognition of private property; thirdly, the payment of wages: the population received for each fifth sheaf of the entire harvest. I guaranteed this wage, even to the Rumanian authorities. Fourth, cultural places were restored — that is, the population was supported in restoring the cultural centers and they were inspired to take up a new cultural life. It is not for me now to describe or discuss the success which this had with the populations of such places. I can only state that because of these measures the population was on our side, and they themselves reported any disturbances which might happen in these territories. Therefore, by this positive winning over of the population, the security of the territory internally could be guaranteed, and actually, in our territory a partisan resistance movement did not come into existence, but it was formed by external elements and was artificially extended.

Concerning the security tasks, there were also tasks of reporting to the army about the atmosphere within the population, the reaction of the population to German measures, and what disturbances and damages happened in the area on the part of the Germans. In this manner plebiscites could be arranged which were useful to the population and which saved us police measures. The situation in the Crimea was much more difficult, although I was there a longer time than anywhere else at a stretch, and I had the possibility to prepare political measures. Even here the institution of friendly measures succeeded in establishing a sort of confidence relationship between the population and the SD agencies. When, in January 1942, the danger arose that we would lose the Crimea, the Tartars, also the Ukrainians, voluntarily put themselves at our disposal for military service. The army left it up to me to deal with the political situation in the Crimea. At that time I could not accept the Ukrainians into the army, but the Tartars put 10 percent of their male population at my disposal within three weeks, absolutely voluntarily. Here, self-government and self-administration was granted to all parts


of the population that is, those units, those communities with a Ukrainian majority had a Ukrainian mayor; the Tartars got a Tartar for their mayor; the Greeks got a Greek; and the Russians got a Russian. These measures were extended in winter as a support when the danger of famine arose in the south. Thus, the actual security task was a positive one and was to be achieved by positive measures.

Q. Did the combat against armed bands belong to your sphere?

A. No. That was not within my sphere. But, in the Crimea — especially after repeated landings of the Russians in Feodosiya, Kerch and Yevpatoriya from the north, east, and the west, with the ultimate aim of the Yaila Mountains — the whole Crimea was systematically filled with enemy agents and spies and those strongly executive tasks, as, for instance, band intelligence, became an essential task which was assigned to us by the army. To my great regret the forces of the army in the Crimea were so small that for months the Kommando 10b and parts of the Kommando 11b had to be assigned to fight armed bands. This assignment, as well as the combating of armed bands, was under the army command, that is, the command of the various army units which held the front sectors. We ourselves were only subordinates and were outside our actual field of activities.

Q. What tasks were given to you as chief of the Einsatzgruppe within this activity of the Einsatzkommandos?

A. It was in keeping with my own method that I kept the staff of the Einsatzgruppe very small. I had merely one, or possibly two, departmental experts, and one adjutant, the defendant Schubert, who was also the manager of the business office. That was my whole staff who had to deal with the matters. I had to be in the headquarters of the army, the local headquarters, that is, in order to establish and guarantee the permanent contact between the Einsatzgruppe and the army; I was actually the point of contact between the army and the Einsatzkommandos. My main task was to carry out the orders of the chief of the SD, the security police and the too frequent orders of the army, and to adjust them, and to take care that the Einsatzkommandos, on the basis of the general situation in an area, were committed in the right tactical manner. Thus, for instance, we had to hunt down saboteurs, enemy agents, or make out intelligence reports, or gather intelligence about partisans, or whatever the situation required.

Q. I now turn to the documents. * * *

* * * * * * * * * *

Q. My first question on this subject — Introducing the evidence against the members of the Einsatzgruppe D, the prosecution


under Exhibit 149 produced Document NO-2661, Volume III D, and they have remarked that the operation and situation report No. 10 concerned activities of the Einsatzgruppe D from 1 until 28 February 1942, in which it is shown that all Jewish areas in the eastern territories are to be cleared, by transporting the Jews to ghettos and those who resisted the German regulation would be shot. Jews would also be shot in order to prevent the spreading of epidemics. Would you comment on this, Witness?

A. In this document the prosecution starts from the wrong assumption insofar as it is not a report from the Einsatzgruppe D, because in this document, independently from individual reports of the group, summaries were made independently of the original reports. Only from the location signs can one conclude which territory is meant for the individual Einsatzgruppen. Of Einsatzgruppe D there is only one small remark three or four times in this lengthy document, the content of which has nothing to do with the charge of the prosecution. This paragraph is mentioned twice. The error seems to me based on the fact that the prosecution confuses the term "Eastern Territory" — "Ostland." Evidently it takes the term "Ostland" to mean the whole of Russia, while in reality "Eastern territory" in German usage is an administrative term by which the three Baltic countries are meant — Lithuania, Latvia and Esthonia, and the charge of the prosecution against Einsatzgruppe D, is the content of what is being reported from this eastern territory.

Q. I show you Exhibit 9, Document 2620-PS, in Volume 1, page 40. It is your own affidavit of 5 November 1945, and there it says —

"In the course of the year, while I was leader of the Einsatzgruppe D, they liquidated" (the Einsatzgruppe, that is), approximately "90,000 men, women, and children." What do you mean by "approximately"?

A. I have been interrogated about my activities in the Einsatzgruppen for two and a half years now, and during all that time I have always tried to avoid naming figures because the numbers of executions I do not actually know.

I don't know today under what conditions these sentences were signed by me. This is an affidavit which was chosen from a number of ten or twelve. Even then, that "approximately" meant that I did not actually know. I can assure the Tribunal that in any oral remarks I might have made during these interrogations, I avoided as long as I could naming any figures whatsoever. If, of course, the figure 90,000 was named by me, I always added that of this, fifteen to twenty percent are double countings. That is on the basis of my own experiences. I do


not know any longer how I could have remembered the number of just 90,000, because I did not keep a register of these figures. The "approximately" must have meant that I was not certain.

From the documents of the prosecution it becomes evident — and my own men reproached me for it — that I was wrong in naming the figure 90,000. It is evident that I mentioned this number 90,000 by adding a number of other figures. I do not mention this in order to excuse myself, as I am perfectly convinced that it does not matter for the actual facts whether it was 40,000 or 90,000. But I mention this for the reason that, in the situation in which we are today, politically speaking, figures are being dealt with in an irresponsible manner. The material and the value of man seems to become so unimportant that the play with millions does not seem to be of any particular importance either.

Herr Auerbach* mentions the figure of 11,000,000 in relation to Germany. Not the minutest part of these millions have ever as much as seen a concentration camp. The International Military Tribunal named the number 2,000,000 for elimination in the Eastern territories. The prosecution in this trial is slightly more modest and only mentions the number of 1,000,000. It is not for nothing that the prosecution deals with only a small portion of time concerning the activities in the Eastern territories because after this period, there were no activities on the part of the Einsatzgruppen.

But even if I add the figures mentioned by the prosecution in these documents, figures occur up to 460,000. I must now state solemnly that in the Reich Security Main Office, Heydrich, Mueller, and Streckenbach, and all the others who knew about these matters, intentionally exaggerated and invented the numbers of Einsatzgruppen A, B, and C. In the case of B, I mean the period of Nebe especially. I am convinced that these figures, which, if I add the numbers in the documents, are not even half of what the prosecution charges me with, are exaggerated by about twice as much. I believe that it is quite evident that these figures should be compared with others and looked upon as the Soviet, the Bolshevist figures. Compare these figures, as I say, with the number of civilian population figures which for the same reasons, — if from other motives perhaps, but in an inhumane manner — were murdered because this is what happened while I was in command of the Einsatzgruppe.

Q. Witness, you speak of exaggeration and double counting. Do you refer, when you maintain that, to Document NO-3148,
* State Commissioner for racial, political, and religious persecutees in Bavaria: later Attorney General of the Bavarian State Office for Restitution.


Prosecution Exhibit 95, and Document NO-3147, Prosecution Exhibit 96?

* * * * * * * * * *

Q. Furthermore, to Document NO-3137, Prosecution Exhibit 76; also Document NO-3159, Prosecution Exhibit 85? In these documents there are numbers which I would like you to comment on.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I should like to contest this figure, the figure mentioned in Volume II-C. There it says that from 16 September until 30 September, 22,467 Jews and Communists were executed and that the total figure is 35,782. In Document Book II-D, it says under "Einsatzgruppe D, Location Kikerino, this area freed of Jews by the Kommandos. From 19 August to 25 September 8,890 Jews and Communists were executed. Total number, 17,315." There's a question mark here. In the next sentence it says, "At the moment the Jewish question is being solved in Nikolaev and Kherson. In each case approximately 5,000 Jews were apprehended." This operational situation report is from 20 September. On the next page, Document NO-3147, Prosecution Exhibit 96, there is the operational situation report from 26 September 1941. There under "Einsatzgruppe A" the location of Kikerino is stated. I do not know whether that was an actual garrison of the Einsatzgruppe A, but at any rate I know that this location was never a location of the Einsatzgruppe D. In this operational situation report, almost literally — under Einsatzgruppe D with the location of Nikolaevv — the same subjects are mentioned as in the operational situation report of 20 September.

In their indictment the prosecution said that they were submitting as documentary evidence the reports of activities of Einsatzgruppen A and D; but actually up to this moment, apart from the reports of the Einsatzgruppen to the army, they have submitted no original reports. These two subsequent operational situation reports, which could be controlled and checked up on very easily in Berlin, show very clearly how far the original reports are removed from the contents of these operational situation reports. It is my opinion that from the operational situation reports, not a single sentence can be identified with a sentence of an original report from the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos, but on the contrary, as becomes evident from these two reports, the operational situation reports are made up from the original reports, and they are full of mistakes and are not compiled with the viewpoint of passing on accurate figure reports.

If this had been the idea, one could have attached these reports


to one another in copy. But as a matter of fact, they have been edited. According to my memory, these reports concerning the 5,000 Jews in the Nikolaev zone are correct, but, of course, only once, not twice. If now on page 49, II C, under 2 October, (NO-3137, Pros. Ex. 76) it says that between 16 September and 30 September, 22,000 Jews and Communists had been executed, this is an amount which during the occupation of the Einsatzgruppen in this territory did not exist in that area. During this time the Einsatzgruppe was in charge of operations in the Nikolaev-Kherson territory and the territory east of the Dnepr River, so far as it was already within our own territory of command. In the operational situation report of 18 October, in document book 2-D, on page 60, (NO-3147, Pros. Ex. 96) it says, "During the time of report, the solution of the Jewish question was dealt with especially in the territory east of the Dnepr River; the territories newly occupied by the Kommandos here freed of Jews." Then it says, "including those territories east of the Dnepr River, 4,091 Jews and 46 Communists were executed." This figure, is first of all outside the report of the time of 26 September and, secondly, it states the actual figure which existed in this territory at the time. It becomes evident, therefore, that the report of 22 October cannot be correct, under any circumstances. It can here only be an addition, or the using of the reports from other Einsatzgruppen. There must be another exhibit, the number of which I don't remember, from which this becomes quite evident, namely, the operational situation report of the beginning of November. May I have a look at this? That must be the Operational Report No. 129 of 5 November 1941 (NO-3159, Pros. Ex. 85). Here approximately 4 weeks later this report of Einsatzgruppe D in that period reports that 11,000 Jews were executed. It must be noted that in situation report of 5 November although in October the total number had been mentioned as 40,000; the situation report of November states there are 31,000. Here is a contradiction which cannot be clarified from the documents which proves the questionability of the evidence of these documents, not only regarding these figures but these individual reports in these documents.

Q. I further offer Document NO-2837, Prosecution Exhibit 58. It is an operational situation report from 29 August 1941. Furthermore, Document NO-2948, Prosecution Exhibit 89; also Document NO-2840, Prosecution Exhibit 154, would you comment on the statements in these documents concerning the statements, whether they contradict each other?

* * * * * * * * * *

DR. ASCHENAUER: I now take Document NO-4538, Prosecution


Exhibit 153. The prosecution charges that the Einsatzgruppe D from their own initiative founded a ghetto and used the Jews for executive works.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: From the document itself the contrary becomes evident. I quote literally. "On the initiative of the Einsatzkommando the Rumanian town commander in the old city erected a Jewish ghetto." The subsequent report that from this ghetto Jews were assigned to working groups is a logical measure, which was taken by the town commander of the Rumanians who was in charge of the administration of the ghetto.

Q. In the same volume there is Document NOKW-641, Prosecution Exhibit 155, which I submit to you. The prosecution wants to prove from this document that the subunits of Einsatzgruppe D carried out the execution orders conscientiously.

A. This document is one of the very few which are true copies of the original report. However, it does not become evident from this what the prosecution wants to prove. On page 43 it says literally "also otherwise, all executions which were ordered by me and carried out by me," — that is the man who wrote the report, — "were carried out in the manner as ordered by Einsatzgruppe D," which is exactly the contrary of what the prosecution claims. But this document is very interesting otherwise on the following page and that in a twofold way. First the army here gives an instruction to the Einsatzgruppe D which is signed by the Ic AO (counterintelligence officer). His name was Riesen who was a major on the general staff. This is countersigned by "Ru". That must have been a mistake. It probably should read "Ra". That is Ranck, the superior of the major. The document also says that the Einsatzkommando of the security police with the Twenty-Second Infantry Division is within the combat front of the division. That was a condition in which all Kommandos or Teilkommandos of the Einsatzgruppe found themselves. It says literally, "It is to be expected that all measures, especially public executions in the town of Genichesk, the setting up and determining, etc., of a Ukrainian protection unit, etc., will be taken after agreement with the intelligence officer has been reached." This document speaks for itself and I do not have to comment on it, but as the document is now being dealt with I should like to deal with another point of the document which is not being under debate yet. Although at that time I held the highest authority which an SS colonel [Standartenfuehrer] can hold, and as it is not customary in the army, in particular in the case of public executions, that an order to another unit should be signed by a man who is inferior or at least not as high as the receiver in his rank, the major here


writes to the Chief of the Einsatzgruppe who is an SS colonel [Standartenfuehrer], which incidently at that time was an even higher rank than that of an Oberfuehrer [senior colonel].

* * * * * * * * * *

DR. ASCHENAUER: I now take Document Book II-C and I show you Document NO-2934, Prosecution Exhibit 78. It is on the German page 55, page 4 of the document itself, page 6 of the original, there is the following sentence: "Paleski considerably devastated. Rumanians content themselves with looting everything. Pogroms could not be achieved so far." I should like you to comment on this quotation.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The sentence, "Pogroms could not be achieved so far," means a tactical term for the sake of the Berlin office, because contrary to the orders of Berlin I had forbidden my Kommando to instigate pogroms. I refused to take such measures because I did not agree with the method and the effect.

Q. I have here Document Book II-D. I shall refer to Document NO-3359, Prosecution Exhibit 84. It is on German page 7. This is an Operational Situation Report of 8 April 1942. From this document I quote as follows: "Inhabitants of the village of Laki near Bakhchisarai were in constant contact with partisan groups; they gave them billets at night and supplied them with food. On 23 March a penal action against this village produced such huge quantities of food that the partisans would have been able to live on this until the next harvest. The 15 main participants, among them the mayor, were shot, all inhabitants were evacuated and the village was burned down." I should like you to comment on this document.

A. This document is an example for many. I should like to repeat and state again that combating the armed bands and the retaliation measures which were carried out for such villages which assisted the bands, all came under the order of the staff for antipartisan warfare; usually these actions were carried out by the local army units, that is by the field divisions of the territory concerned.

In this situation report, as in many other situation reports, a general activity and a general situation report is given. That means naturally in reporting, the situation in the territory is discussed, and not only our own activities but also all the other happenings and events of the locality itself, quite independently of who created these situations.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Witness, just as a matter of information, looking at this page about which you have been


testifying and directing attention, particularly to the phrase, "and the village was burned down," would you please explain just what military objective was being aimed at in destroying the village? Let's assume for the purposes of the question that there was a reason for liquidating those who were opposing your forces, that is to say the partisans. Just what was attained in the actual physical destruction of the buildings?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: These villages which I talk about were at the foot of the Yaila Mountains fill the southern part of the Crimea near the coast. In the Yaila Mountains there were about 10,000 partisans at my time. Naturally, these partisans were not sufficiently supplied with food because in the mountains and on the south coast there had already been famines, even during peace. Therefore the villages, that is the north part, were natural reservoirs for food supplies for the southern part. That means these villages were the only places where partisans could go, especially in winter. The reason for burning and destroying these villages were twofold; one, at first the village that is talked about here was a hiding place for partisans, and thus a base was to be destroyed for partisan activities; and secondly, after the army had repeatedly threatened to burn down villages if the villages supported the partisans actively, in such a case when a village actually supported the partisans it was then to be a deterrent for the inhabitants of other villages.


DR. ASCHENAUER: I have Document Book II-A in front of me. It is Document NO-3235, Prosecution Exhibit 54. It is an operational Situation Report of 23 March 1942. It is reported about shooting of mentally insane people although it is not evident from the document how many mentally insane people were actually shot. Could you comment on this?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The reporting of this situation report was made at a time when I myself was not present in the Crimea, but I can assure the Tribunal that my Kommandos did not carry out shootings of mentally insane. I had forbidden this explicitly, and I repeated this again and again because the army asked us on various occasions to carry out shootings of mentally insane people. It is for this reason that it is impossible that this report deals with actions carried out by one of my own Kommandos. Furthermore, I think this is a false report because the territory at the south of Karasubazar consisted mainly of woodlands and clay huts. There were no major villages and there was certainly no asylum for insane people.

Q. Witness, I must remonstrate you here and that is from Document Book III-D, I want to put to you Document NOKW-604,


Prosecution Exhibit 150. I shall show you this document and I should like you to comment on it.

A. This Document NOKW-604 is a report of the Sonderkommando 11a to the army. In the last paragraph it says, that "Romanenko, on the 9 September 1941, for hereditary biological reasons, was executed." I do not remember this case in detail, but the reason probably was that — or at least this becomes evident from the document — that the Sonderkommando 11a received a direct order from the Commander in Chief of the Army that Romanenko should be punished as deterrent and, if possible, should be executed in public by hanging. The Kommando investigated this case, as becomes evident from the document, and did not find the reasons confirmed for this request by the Commander in Chief. It does not become evident from the report why the Kommando, in spite of this, executed the order, especially as it gives the reason as: "hereditary biological." I do not know whether I ever saw this report, but if I had seen it I would not have agreed with it, but I assume that it went to the Commander in Chief immediately after the Commander in Chief had been put in charge of this Kommando.

Q. Witness, from the same document book I now turn to another document. Would you look on page 15? It is Document NOKW-631, Prosecution Exhibit 151. I ask you in connection with this document, why did you try to justify yourself against the army concerning the confiscations of watches and other valuables taken during the anti-Jewish actions?

A. I remember the incident very well which led to my writing this report to the army. Some officers had complained to the Chief of Staff that I refused to turn over money to the town of Simferopol without a receipt. Furthermore, complaints had been received that I had failed to turn over as many watches as I should have done after the confiscations had taken place. The army sent a remonstration to me and asked me where the valuables were. As the army, by their own position, had the authority to ask me for such an explanation of the facts, this is the answer to the complaints of the army.

Q. I should like you to keep the same document book that is III-D, and to look at Document NO-4489, Prosecution Exhibit 152, which is on page 21 of the German. The Einsatzgruppen are charged that they had looted Jewish apartments and had taken away property which they put at the disposal of Ethnic Germans.

A. What is called looting here was the carrying out of the confiscation and utilization decrees which I simultaneously had received from the Reich Security Main Office and the army. The apartments as well as the furniture were put at the disposal


Prosecution Exhibit 150. I shall show you this document and I should like you to comment on it.

A. This Document NOKW-604 is a report of the Sonderkommando 11a to the army. In the last paragraph it says, that "Romanenko, on the 9 September 1941, for hereditary biological reasons, was executed." I do not remember this case in detail, but the reason probably was that — or at least this becomes evident from the document — that the Sonderkommando 11a received a direct order from the Commander in Chief of the Army that Romanenko should be punished as deterrent and, if possible, should be executed in public by hanging. The Kommando investigated this case, as becomes evident from the document, and did not find the reasons confirmed for this request by the Commander in Chief. It does not become evident from the report why the Kommando, in spite of this, executed the order, especially as it gives the reason as: "hereditary biological." I do not know whether I ever saw this report, but if I had seen it I would not have agreed with it, but I assume that it went to the Commander in Chief immediately after the Commander in Chief had been put in charge of this Kommando.

Q. Witness, from the same document book I now turn to another document. Would you look on page 15? It is Document NOKW-631, Prosecution Exhibit 151. I ask you in connection with this document, why did you try to justify yourself against the army concerning the confiscations of watches and other valuables taken during the anti-Jewish actions?

A. I remember the incident very well which led to my writing this report to the army. Some officers had complained to the Chief of Staff that I refused to turn over money to the town of Simferopol without a receipt. Furthermore, complaints had been received that I had failed to turn over as many watches as I should have done after the confiscations had taken place. The army sent a remonstration to me and asked me where the valuables were. As the army, by their own position, had the authority to ask me for such an explanation of the facts, this is the answer to the complaints of the army.

Q. I should like you to keep the same document book that is III-D, and to look at Document NO-4489, Prosecution Exhibit 152, which is on page 21 of the German. The Einsatzgruppen are charged that they had looted Jewish apartments and had taken away property which they put at the disposal of Ethnic Germans.

A. What is called looting here was the carrying out of the confiscation and utilization decrees which I simultaneously had received from the Reich Security Main Office and the army. The apartments as well as the furniture were put at the disposal


of people who had lost all their property and who could prove that or the material and the apartments were administered by the local commandants in their respective localities of command and were put at the disposal of those people who were looking for apartments. Furthermore, apart from these two lines, this report, which contains about twenty pages, is an excellent explanation of the terror under which the German areas lived for twenty years, and which only proves what I said yesterday, that as a rule three male grown-up members of each family in the course of this time were taken from the family and their fate could not be established.

Q. Those who looked for accommodations were, therefore, Tartars, Ukrainians, and Ethnic Germans, etc. Witness, during what period in the war were you chief of Einsatzgruppe D?

A. I was chief of the Einsatzgruppe D from June 1941 until June 1942, inclusive; however, from March 1942 to June 1942 there were considerable interruptions.

Q. What was the nature of these interruptions?

A. From the beginning of March until 26 April I was on leave in Berlin. At the end of April I had to go back to Berlin until the beginning of May. After the death of Heydrich on June 1942, I was called to Berlin, and I only returned in order to give over my office to my successor.

Q. Did you, as the Chief of the Einsatzgruppe, operate with the Einsatzgruppe and its units in Russia independently?

A. No. My official position was Representative Plenipotentiary of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD in the 11th Army. As such for the tasks which I had to carry out within the army, Einsatzkommandos had been subordinated to me as units with whom these tasks were to be carried out.

Q. Will you explain to us the significance of this position in the army and the activity of the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos?

A. I was given this assignment on the basis of an agreement between the High Command of the Army and the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces on the one hand and the Security Police and the SD on the other. This decree was known as the so-called Barbarossa Decree. On the basis of this decree the institution of these mobile units had a twofold significance within the framework of the army units. On the one hand, special units were subordinated to the army for tasks which they had so far carried out on their own authority and with their own units. On the other hand, Heydrich, Chief of the Police and the SD, was sole authority to give direct instructions to these Einsatzkommandos, and, also to receive the new reports direct with the reason and


purpose of preventing an expected collaboration of the adversaries in the Reich itself and in the occupied territories at the front. The essential thing was that these activities were to be carried out by me and the Einsatzkommandos in the assigned territories and that was within the territory of the army; this means that the task and activities of the Einsatzkommandos were under supreme authority of the Commander in Chief of the Army. He held the executive power within his territory, and his authoritative power had been laid down in the Reich defense law, as well as in a decree of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces regarding the position of a Commander in Chief in the operational theater. According to this, the decrees issued by the Commander in Chief of the Army were of primary importance and had to be complied with first. Therefore, it was necessary for the units to carry out all activities and tasks in a form which was in agreement with the intentions of the army. That means the army had either to approve the action or agree with the plans and activities of the units within the framework of their own tasks. By this I mean that the activities of the Einsatzkommandos, these special task forces, were formed to comply with tasks given by the army itself. They had to attempt to fulfill the assignments which were meant for these special units. It was their duty to accept special assignments which, according to the authority of the Barbarossa Decree,* could be asked for by the army.

Q. This is the general program. Was this factual and legal relationship between the army hierarchy and the Einsatzgruppe and Einsatzkommandos also put down in individual decrees?

A. Yes, this relationship had been regulated by me in the agreement I mentioned. It was left to the discretion of the army to determine the operational theater of the individual Kommandos, the strength of the Kommandos, and the period of activity of the Kommandos. Furthermore, it also had been determined that for operative necessities the regulations and decrees of the army had priority. What had not been determined, however, was the current competition of orders which might occur within the decrees of the chief of SD and the security police and the chief of the army. It was often the case, that it was more or less left to the skill of the officers in charge of the respective agencies to find an objective solution in case of such competitive orders. For
* The order abolished court martial proceedings in the eastern territories and authorized any German officer to order executions without trial of civilians who allegedly committed crimes or were merely suspected of having committed crimes against the occupying power. The order further stated that members of the German Armed Forces who had committed crimes against the civilian population need not be prosecuted.


operative reasons, however, it was in the end always the highest authority which had the right to make the final decision.

Q. Could you tell us of the effect of the Barbarossa Decree on your own position and your activities and the activities and the position of the Einsatzkommando?

A. In explaining one document I have already explained how the army tried from the very first day not to take notice of me at all as the Chief of the Einsatzgruppen and to treat the Einsatzkommandos as their own army units. We were auxiliary units of the counterintelligence officer. This becomes apparent also from another document. It is Document NOKW-584. It is in Document Book III-D, in which the counterintelligence officer gives us a picture of how in his own tasks of espionage of armed band activities and the setting up of plans for the combat against such bands, apart from the field constabulary and his own units, also the SD delivered news reports which he himself used for his own purposes.

Q. What was your relationship with the Chief of Staff of the Army?

A. As I have already pointed out, neither the Commander in Chief nor the Chief of Staff really took notice of me at all when I first reported to them. When, therefore, on the strength of the position as described by me just now the army made use of the Kommandos without my knowledge, I had a serious dispute with the intelligence officer. The consequence of this was that I was called to the Chief of Staff, Colonel Woehler,* and he received me by saying that if the collaboration between the army and myself would not improve, he would ask for my dismissal in Berlin. I believe that this fact gives a good picture of my relationship with the Chief of Staff. For although the Chief of Staff was a colonel, and I, as a Standartenfuehrer also held the rank of a colonel, the actual position held in the army becomes abundantly clear. By the army I was considered a unit leader of just about 500 men. That equals a commander of a battalion and I was treated accordingly. I was not only ordered to see Colonel Woehler but even a major who was the intelligence officer ordered me to come and see him and he avoided expressly to address me with my rank — a custom usually adhered to in the army — in order to show that he, even as a major, was above a Standartenfuehrer.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I understand you to say he was a colonel.

* Woehler became Brigadier General in 1941. Defendant in case of Wilhelm von Leeb, et al. See Vol. .X, XI


PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: This officer with whom you were speaking.

A. The last one I mentioned was a major. The intelligence officer with whom I had to deal immediately, and from whom the Einsatzgruppe received most of the orders, was a major.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 22761
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Postby David Thompson » 21 Sep 2004 04:04

Part 3 of 5:

Q. Yes. Were you so under the control of the army that a recommendation from him for your dismissal would have had weight and effect in Berlin?

A. I didn't hear the question.

Q. I see. I am sorry. Were you so under the command of the army that a recommendation from this officer to Berlin could have worked the dismissal which he threatened?

A. Immediately, yes. There is no doubt, because it was in Himmler's interest as to this assignment to extend this first footing he had won for the territory of the army by means of a close collaboration with the army, and it is generally known that, as a rule, not one officer of Himmler was ever covered by him when in the case of complaints the complainant was a person who was of importance to Himmler himself, and this was certainly the case of Keitel, the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.

DR. ASCHENAUER: Would you tell the Tribunal the content value of your position? What were you in command of? What was your power of decision and your authority? What was the territory of your authority?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I have already explained, that the units of the Einsatzgruppen were essentially auxiliary organs of the intelligence officer. The field of tasks which had been definitely established was to bring about secure collaboration with the army. That was the general framework of the order, and within the framework of this order there was the one frequently discussed here, namely, the liquidation of certain groups of people in order to achieve the aim of guaranteeing the security within this territory. My authority consisted in safeguarding the communication lines of the army as well as the police security and in deciding whether or not the Einsatzgruppen should carry out such executions. It was outside my authority to stop the Einsatzkommandos from carrying out such executions, because this was the basic order which came from the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and which was not within the power of authority of the unit chiefs. My authority only started in carrying out these orders, that is, when deciding in what manner these orders were to be carried out, which were determined as the main task of security. The orders which were issued by the High Command currently in this connection show that the


authority for measures to guarantee the security in these areas was never exploited by me. Furthermore, the fact that in winter 1941-1942 currently Kommandos were taken away from my own units by the army and became subordinated to the fighting troops proves perhaps best that I, with my own Kommandos, was only a little wheel at the lower end of the machinery, which the army units kept in the Russian territory.

Q. Could you give us a few examples of your own position which might be of interest here, for instance, in the assigning of Kommandos?

A. I think I have given an example for this just now. There is only to be added that, as I have already basically explained before, special tasks were transferred to me by the army in which it was merely my task to determine the way in which they should be carried out, for instance, in espionage of armed band activities or recruiting of Tartars, or, for instance, the harvesting or establishment of district administration, or whatever might have come up. My power of authority again merely extended to executive measures and only insofar as the army did not deal with them itself.

Q. The concluding question concerning the set of questions concerning Russia — What was your power of decision concerning execution orders?

A. I do not think I have to repeat this. As to the orders for execution, even if applying the harshest standard, I had no possibility whatever to circumvent them.

Q. I now come to the final questions — membership in the SS and SD.

Witness, we heard yesterday that in 1926 for a few months, lists were made of the members of the SS. What was the position after 1926 until 1936?

A. From the time 1926 to 1936 I had no immediate contact nor any immediate connection with the SS. I was not a member of the SS, either.

Q. By joining the SD, did you become a member of the General SS — the Allgemeine SS?

A. No. I did not become a member of the Allgemeine SS.

* * * * * * * * * *

Q. Witness, whom did you fight against in particular through the SD?

A. In particular the Reich Leaders Ley, Goebbels, and Bormann.

Q. Why these three in particular?

A. Because these three endangered the moral value of the human being like nobody else. Ley, because he interfered with the independent development of social existence and tried to


eliminate the private sphere of the human being. Goebbels, because he denied the independent mental development, the development of consciousness, and in that way, the inner freedom of the human being, and in questioning all absolute values he became one of the earliest exponents of modern existentialism and embodied actual nihilism; Bormann, because he eliminated the natural tension between individual and community to the disadvantage of the individual by trying to subordinate these individuals to a certain master clique within the Party. These three together then attacked the value of the human being as created by modern times.

Q. How did SD Inland (domestic affairs) fight this power machinery?

A. In two ways. One was — the SD supported all positive powers which opposed these tendencies — and secondly, it disavowed in its reports the measures of these persons, so far as they expressed their inner views in their measures. That way, in a great number of cases, the realization of these tendencies in their development, as I have noted, was hindered or eliminated altogether.

Q. How could the SD Inland develop to become an organization of opposition as you described it to us?

A. From the very beginning, it retained its independence; it refused any executive power and was prepared to show its power only by making reports, whose form and contents were beyond reproach.

Q. What was the aim of the SD?

A. The aim was the following: To measure our entire reporting activity by applying the same criterion — how do the authorities react to the individual and how does the individual react to the authorities — we attempted to waken hopes in the individual by giving them a chance for development into what we saw in them, namely, human beings who in their aim to gain consciousness and inner freedom found a way of living and results in all spheres of life and who were suitable to support these human developments.

Q. You used the words "inner freedom." What do you understand by the word "freedom"?

A. By "freedom" I mean the voluntary ties of the individual, the motives of his will and actions, the obvious will of God, in nature and history.

Q. You know that in public a different picture of the SD always existed and still exists, in particular, the SD was considered a great power which was omnipotent in a way. Will you please state your opinion on this?

A. In 1936 when I took over the economic section of the SD


this activity had to be camouflaged. My department was not called Economic Department but ST-4; meaning Staff Department No. 4. In 1937 I was not in a position to make any report at all without getting permission from Mr. Kranefuss* first who was the economic expert in the personal staff of the Reich Leader SS. In 1938 we made the first great report, the contents of which dealt with sabotage of the Railway Administration and further extension of the German communication network. This report was read by Heydrich and put in the files, that is, it disappeared in the safe because this mighty SD was not in a position even to inform a third person that they were dealing with such questions. In 1939, after the war had started, we had the courage to reveal obvious damages in the beginning of the war by making reports on them and here chance assisted us because Goering saw these reports and took them and used them in the sessions of the Reich Defense Council meeting as questions to the departmental representatives. He now desired to be informed in this way. Without knowledge of the connection, for the first and only time in the history of the SD, he permitted these reports to be distributed. In 1940 he confirmed them again, when a number of district leaders [Gauleiter] objected strongly to these reports. But this legalization did not last either and in spite of the importance of these reports the SD was only an illegitimate child which one did not like to see and wanted to hide as quickly as possible. As the development in 1942 and 1943 shows we were allowed to make official reports to the outside world no longer; Goebbels prohibited it. The power we had until the end was the result of the personal influence of my individual experts using their knowledge of their subjects to inform those who were interested in this knowledge. The SD never constituted an active power. My personal relations I need not repeat in this connection. I explained it in detail yesterday.

Q. I have finished my direct examination.

* * * * * * * * * *


MR. HEATH: Mr. Ohlendorf, to speed this examination I'd like to attempt to agree with you upon one or two points. First, we shall not quarrel about numbers. You have indicated that Einsatzgruppe D under your command slaughtered something less than 90,000 human beings. I understood you to suggest to the Court that this figure is exaggerated although it appears in an affidavit which you have given. I ask you now to give the Court the best estimate you possibly can of the minimum number of human
* Business manager of the "Circle of Friends" or "Himmler Circle". See Friedrich Flick, et al., Case No. 5, vol. VI and Ernst von Weizsaecker et al., Case No. 11, vols. XII. XIII and XIV.


beings who were killed under your command by Einsatzgruppe D.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: In my direct examination I have already said that I cannot give any definite figure, and that even the testimony in my affidavit shows that in reality I could not name any figure. Therefore, I have named a figure which has been reported "approximately". The knowledge which I have gained by this day through the documents and which I have gained through conversations with my men, make me reserve the right to name any figure and strengthen this reservation. Therefore, I am not in a position to give you a minimum figure, either. In my direct examination I have said that the numbers which appear in the documents are at least exaggerated by one-half, but I must repeat that I never knew any definite figure and, therefore, cannot give you any such figure.

Q. You cannot give us a minimum figure?

A. If the prosecution wishes I am, of course, prepared to give my reasons why I cannot give any figure.

Q. Well, let me ask you — perhaps I can help you * * *. In any event, I can indicate to the Court one reason why you might have doubts about the numbers. In 1943 the Reich Leader SS, Himmler addressed the SS major generals at Poznan. You are aware of that speech, are you not?

A. Yes. I have heard it myself.

Q. Perhaps you recall his complaint; I will read it to you —

"I come now to a fourth virtue, which is very rare in Germany — truthfulness. One of the greatest evils which has spread during the war is the lack of truthfulness in messages, reports, and statements, which subordinate departments in civil life, in the State, the Party and the services sent in to the departments over them."
Of course, that was in 1943. Did you exaggerate the reports which you sent to the Reich Security Main Office?

A. I certainly did not on my own initiative, but I had to rely on those things which were reported to me, and I know that double countings could not be avoided, and I also know that wrong numbers were reported to me. I have tried to avoid passing on such double countings or wrong statements, because the individual Kommandos did not know the figures of the neighbor units; nevertheless the reporting of wrong figures was not prevented — and especially the reporting of strange figures as for instance, the report from Chernovitsy. Here those figures are named for which the Rumanians in Chernovitsy were responsible.

Q. Will you tell the Court what bookkeeping and record-making system was maintained in Einsatzgruppe D to keep track of the people slaughtered?


A. In Einsatzgruppe D the various reports were received which were sent from the Kommandos to the Einsatzgruppe, and these reports were gone over and the figures contained in them were sent to the Reich Security Main Office.

Q. Well, it is quite obvious that that is what happened. But tell us now who reported for Einsatzkommando 12, say, during the first six months of its operations, the killings by Einsatzkommando 12, to you?
A. Einsatzkommando 12 itself.

Q. And who was the man who reported to you?

A. They were usually signed by the Einsatzkommando chief himself, in this case by the then SS Major [Sturmbannfuehrer] Nosske.

Q. Very well, you relied on Nosske for truthful reporting of the numbers killed by his unit?

A. I had no possibility to examine these executions because Nosske, was sometimes 200 or 250 kilometers away from me.

Q. Witness, I don't mean to cut you off, but I think if I ask you now to attempt to make your answers as responsive as possible, I shall attempt to make my questions as explicit as possible — and I believe we both shall benefit. So, I ask you again — not why you did not check up on Nosske, but simply the question — Did you rely on Nosske for truthful reports of the slaughters committed by Einsatzkommando 12?

A. I didn't understand the last part of the question.

Q. Did you rely on Nosske for truthful reports of the numbers of persons slaughtered by Einsatzkommando 12 while it was under his command?

A. I was of the opinion that these reports were truthful. In the case of Nosske, however, in one case it was brought to my attention that the report was not truthful. But that was at a relatively early stage of Nikolaev.

We found out that in this case Nosske reported figures which were not killed by his Kommando but by a strange unit.

Q. Then in one instance at least, you did find your subordinate exaggerating the number killed by his unit?

A. Yes. Q. Do you recall any other exaggerations by any other men in the unit under you?

A. Yes, for example, in the case of 10a.

Q. Yes. Do you recall an exaggeration in the case of l0a?

A. Yes. In the case of 10a.

Q. Any other Einsatzkommando do you recall exaggerating figures?

A. Not from my part, no.


Q. So within the limits of memory and the situation you find yourself in today, it should be possible for you to give us a minimum figure based on the reports of the men who were under you, should it not?

A. I can only repeat what I already have been saying for two and one-half years that to the best of my knowledge, about ninety thousand people were reported by my Einsatzkommandos. How many of those were actually killed I do not know and I cannot really say.

Q. Very well, we will leave this after one more question. This figure ninety thousand is the best estimate you can give at this moment. I take it we must continue to read that with the qualification that you gave in direct testimony, that you think there is a great deal of exaggeration in it?

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Mr. Heath, I do not understand the witness to say that he regarded the figure ninety thousand to be an exaggeration. He states, and he stated not only here but before the International Military Tribunal, that his estimate of the number killed by the Einsatzgruppe D during the time he was in charge was ninety thousand, and he comes to that conclusion from the reports and that is what I understand he says today.

MR. HEATH: I agree with your Honor. I had understood him to say that in the transcript his testimony was — go ahead.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I am not quite in agreement with this answer, your Honor, insofar as I said that the number ninety thousand was reported as having been killed. But I cannot really say whether that number had been actually killed and certainly not that they were killed by the Einsatzgruppen, because, apart from exaggerations, I also knew definitely that the Einsatzkommando reported the killings which were carried out by other units. Therefore, I could only repeat that ninety thousand were reported.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Witness, you may perhaps not agree to what I have stated, but you will have to agree to what you stated yourself on 3 January 1946; you were asked: "Do you know how many persons were liquidated by the Einsatzgruppe D under your direction?" And you answered: "In the year between June 1941 and June 1942 the Einsatzkommandos reported ninety thousand people liquidated."


PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Question: "That included men, women, and children?" Answer: "Yes." Question: "On what do you base these figures?" Answer: "On reports sent by the Einsatzkommandos to the Einsatzgruppen." Question: "Were those reports submitted to you?" Answer: "Yes."


MR. HEATH: Your Honor, please, if I may interrupt? I think I can clear up the difficulty. I have the advantage of having the transcript of his testimony before me.


MR. HEATH: I don't know that your Honor has had the opportunity to see it.


MR. HEATH: He did make this statement with respect to the affidavit which you just read.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: It is not the affidavit. This is testimony put to him in Court.

MR. HEATH: We can follow this up in the witness’ testimony in direct examination. Witness, this is from your testimony of last week. You said: "If, of course, the figure of ninety thousand was named by me, I always added that in this fifteen to twenty percent are double countings, that is, on the basis of my own experience. I do not know any longer how I could have remembered the number of just ninety thousand, because I did not keep a register of these figures. The ‘approximately’ must have meant that I was not certain. It is evident that I mentioned this number of ninety thousand by adding a number of other figures. I do not mention this in order to excuse myself, as I am perfectly convinced that it does not matter from the actual fact whether it was forty thousand or ninety thousand. I mention this for the reason that in the situation in which we are today, politically speaking, figures are being dealt with in an irresponsible manner." That is the qualification that I had referred to.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: But that still does not in any way take away from what he said on 3 January 1946.

MR. HEATH: I agree, sir, with you.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: That is the testimony of that day, and it still stands now as he gives this explanation and the Tribunal sees no difference between what he said then and what he said today, namely, that this estimate of ninety thousand is based upon the report which he personally saw.

MR. HEATH: Alright, Sir.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: With what was just read by the presiding judge of my affidavit of 3 January 1946 I agree completely.


DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Anything else which I have said on direct examination is merely a commentary to the testimony of 3 January 1946.


MR. HEATH: Very well, sir. Mr. Ohlendorf, I had begun to ask


you about the Karaims [Karaites]¹ and the Krimchaks,² I think you called them. I understood that you were confronted in the south of Russia with the question further to slaughter Krimchaks. Krimchaks I understood were human beings who had come by way of Italy to Russia, and they had Jewish blood. The directive which you got from Berlin was to kill the Krimchaks, is that correct?


Q. Now, I cannot pronounce it correctly, the Karaims were another sect whom you encountered in the south of Russia, and this sect had no Jewish blood, but it did share the religious confessions of the Jews. Is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. You submitted to Berlin the question whether the Karaims should be killed, and I understood you to say that the order you got from Berlin was you shall not kill them for they have nothing in common with the Jews except the confession?

A. Yes.

Q. Now during your direct examination you told this Court that you had no idea, and that you have no cause today to think that there was any plan to exterminate the Jewish race in existence, nor that you had any information of putting it into effect. Is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you explain to the Court, please, what difference there was between the Karaims and the Krimchaks, except Jewish blood?

A. I understand your question completely in reference to the eastern Jews, in the case of the Jews who were found in the eastern campaign. These Jews were to be killed — according to the order — for the reason that they were considered carriers of bolshevism, and, therefore, considered as endangering the security of the German Reich. This concerned the Jews who were found in Russia, and it was not known to me that the Jews in all of Europe were being killed, but on the contrary I knew that down to my dismissal these Jews were not killed, but it was attempted at all costs to get them to emigrate. The fact that the Karaims were not killed showed that the charge of the prosecution that persons were persecuted for their religion is not correct, for the Karaims had that Jewish religion, but they could not be killed because they did not belong to the Jewish race.

Q. I think, Witness, you answered exactly what I had antici- [pated]

¹ Sect which refused the Talmud and adopted the Old Testament as sole source of faith.
² Turkish Jews of mixed Semitic and Tartaric blood.


[partici...] pated in the last sentence, "They did not belong to the Jewish Race," is that right?

A. Yes, That is right.

Q. They were found in Russia?

A. Yes.

Q. But they participated in the Jewish confession in Russia?

A. The Karaims had the Jewish faith, yes.

Q. But your race authorities in Berlin could find no trace of Jewish blood in them?

A. Yes.

Q. So they came absolutely under the Fuehrer Decree or the Streckenbach Order to kill all Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. Because of blood?

A. Because they were of Jewish origin. For you must understand the Nazi ideology, as you call it. It was the opinion of the Fuehrer that in Russia and in bolshevism, the representatives of this blood showed themselves especially suitable for this idea, therefore, the carriers of this blood became especially suitable representatives of the bolshevism. That is not on account of their faith, or their religion, but because of their human make-up and character.

Q. And because of their blood, right?

A. I cannot express it any more definitely than I stated, from their nature and their characteristics. Their blood, of course, has something to do with it, according to National Socialist ideology.

Q. Let's see, if I can understand it; we've got a lot of time, I hope. What was the distinction except blood?

A. Between whom?

Q. Between the Karaims and the Krimchaks?

A. The difference of the blood, yes.

Q. Only the difference in blood, is that so?

A. Yes.

Q. So the criterion and the test which you applied in your slaughter was blood?

A. The criteria which I used were the orders which I got, and it has not been doubted during the entire trial, that in this Fuehrer Order the Jews were designated as the ones who belonged to that circle in Russia and who were to be killed.

Q. Very well, Witness, let's not quibble. Let's come back again. What you followed was the Fuehrer Order. Now, I leave you out of it for a moment, your own idea of what should be killed and what should not be killed.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I disagree with you, Mr. Heath, that the witness has quibbled. I think he has stated very clearly


that his orders were to kill all Jews, that was the criterion which he followed. If he was a Jew he was killed, if he was not a Jew then they might figure some other reason to kill him but he wouldn't be killed because he was a Jew.

MR. HEATH: Yes, your Honor, I am attempting to get him to say the word blood and not the word Jews. That is the reason I was saying he is quibbling, but I am perfectly happy to leave it where it is.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I think he has been rather forthright.

MR. HEATH: Very well. Let's see, Mr. Ohlendorf, let's go for a moment to this order which you got at Pretzsch in the spring of 1941. Did you have any knowledge whatever of the purposes of the Einsatzgruppen before you went to Pretzsch?

A. We merely knew that the Einsatzgruppen were to be set up.

Q. But you did not know what they were to do?

A. No. Apart from the fact that one has a definite idea about missions in which people of the Security Police and the SD were assigned. That is, of course, true.

Q. Did you, at that time, have any idea that the mission of the security police would be to slaughter Jews and gypsies?

A. I could no longer say today that I had such an idea, but I don't believe so. In my opinion the order about the killing of the Jews was made known to me for the first time in Pretzsch, that is, for the Russian campaign.

Q. If you had known that that was going to be the purpose of the Einsatzgruppen to kill all Jews and gypsies and certain other categories, you would remember it today — would you not, Mr. Ohlendorf ?

A. I can no longer say.

Q. You were ordered three times to join the Einsatzgruppen, were you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And twice you refused?

A. Yes.

Q. The order in the first instance came from Heydrich?

A. Yes.

Q. The second order for you to become a member of the Einsatzgruppe came from Heydrich?

A. Yes.

Q. You refused both the first and the second order?

A. Yes.

Q. Why?

A. For two reasons. For one thing, because I had not been a soldier and did not have any interest in the military; secondly,


because I was not a policeman, and had no interest for police work, and police work was against my nature; and third, because I had a genuine job to do in Berlin which I knew would not be replaced once I left it, and I wanted to do a job to which I had the best ability.

Q. How did you refuse the first time? Will you tell us the circumstances? Heydrich was your military superior, was he not?

A. Yes.

Q. You were fully convinced that every order, every military order must be obeyed without a question?

A. That is expressing it very generally.

Q. It is quite general, but to be specific, you killed all these people you have told us because you were ordered to do it, not because you wished to do it?

A. I said often enough that I personally did not kill any people. I would like you to remember that or to question me about this matter.

Q. I'll come to that in due time. I shall ask you now again how you refused the first Heydrich order to join the Einsatzgruppe?

A. Because I wanted to explain why it was not expedient for me to leave Berlin, and I said in my direct examination I was indispensable to the Reich Trade Group, that is, I had a note in my military passport which obligated me to work for the Reich Trade Group, and, therefore, Heydrich first had to consult me and remove this note. Therefore I had the chance to discuss these matters with him.

Q. And in your direct testimony you said: "Twice, I was directed to go to Russia, and twice I refused."

A. Yes.

Q. Did you go to Heydrich and say: "I don't want to go to Russia"?

A. Not in that form, of course, but we spoke about these matters, and I used the tact which is necessary when discussing such matters with a superior that is usually customary.

Q. On the second occasion what happened?

A. The same thing.

Q. Heydrich had selected you to go with the Einsatzgruppen, and twice you were able to persuade him to relieve you of that assignment?

A. When the last order came I could not evade it. How strenuously he insisted on this could be seen from the fact that Mueller and Streckenbach, Chief of the Gestapo and Chief of personnel, were of the opinion that it would not be expedient to give me an Einsatzgruppe, and they also protested to Heydrich about giving me the command of an Einsatzgruppe, but since


he wanted it, the third order came down, and there was no chance to evade it this time.

Q. I didn't follow you there. Who was it that insisted, Streckenbach?

A. Heydrich insisted on it against the vote of Streckenbach and Mueller.

Q. Heydrich, of course, knew at that time what the Einsatzgruppen were to do in Russia?

A. I don't know.

Q. I beg your pardon?

A. I don't know whether he did.

Q. Is it your idea that he organized these units without having any idea of what they were to do?

A. He had an idea, all right, for he wanted to take every security job away from the army, whereas, up to that time he had detailed personnel to the army, and the army worked without letting him in on this work; therefore, he expanded his domination to include the operational areas.

Q. This was a very secret preparation, was it not, of the Einsatzgruppen?

A. Yes, of course, these were negotiations between Heydrich and the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces and the High Command of the Army, and representatives of Heydrich and of these two agencies.

Q. Well, then, it is a fair assumption that when Heydrich selected you to go to Russia in command, he knew what work you were going to perform in Russia, did he not?

A. Whether he already had the Fuehrer Order I don't know. I only knew the fact that the Einsatzgruppen were being set up.

Q. Now at Pretzsch, Streckenbach told you, for the first time, you say, what the Einsatzgruppen were to do?

A. Yes.

Q. Now he had a special order?

A. Yes.

Q. In your direct examination you stated that the order read "as follows".

Did you see the order yourself?

A. No, I did not say, it read "as follows". I merely gave the contents, for I always said there was no written order.

Q. I misunderstood you; the transcript said, "Read as follows." So your understanding of the purposes of the Einsatzgruppen came from Streckenbach orally at Pretzsch?

A. Yes. That is correct.

Q. And you protested?

A. Not only myself, but as I said in direct examination, there was a general protest.


Q. What form did your protest to Streckenbach take?

A. I pointed out that these were missions which could not possibly be accomplished. It is impossible to ask people to carry out such executions

Q. Why?

A. Well, I believe there is no doubt that there is nothing worse for people spiritually than to have to shoot defenseless populations.

Q. If I may be a little facetious in a grim matter, there is nothing worse than to be shot either, when you are defenseless?

A. Since this is meant ironically by you, I can imagine worse things, for example, to starve.

Q. It is not meant entirely ironically. I have read the whole of your testimony, and I am impressed by the fact that not once did you express any sympathy or regret.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Mr. Heath, I don't think that that observation is in place.

MR. HEATH: I withdraw it, your Honor.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: You are not to comment on the witness. Ask him questions, and he is to answer them. What you think about him is of no consequence.

MR. HEATH: I know that, your Honor, and I ask the Court's forgiveness for having put the question.

* * * * * * * * * *

MR. HEATH: Now I want to say this — you have told the Court repeatedly that to your knowledge there was absolutely no purpose to exterminate races. You are charged here, of course, with war crimes which is one kind of killing, and crimes against humanity which is another kind of killing. You have told the Court that you have no reason today to believe that these killings were part of an extermination program. I want to ask you further, you are aware of this speech which Hitler made in 1933 at the Party rally in Nuernberg, and I would like to ask you, when I have read you this quotation, to comment on it. "But long ago man has proceeded in the same way with his fellowmen. A higher race, at first higher in the sense of possessing a greater gift for organization, subjects to itself a lower race, and thus constitutes a relationship which now embraces races of unequal value. There thus results the subjection of a number of people under the will often of only a few persons, a subjection based simply on the right of the stronger, a right which, as we see it in nature, can be regarded as the sole conceivable right because founded on reason." Do you recall that or any of the similar outgivings of Adolf Hitler during the period from 1933 on?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I have read this remark repeatedly


here because it seems to please the prosecution especially. Despite repeated readings I have still not understood it to this date. Perhaps the last two sentences are reasonable, but the first two-thirds I cannot make any sense out of.

Q. You were in the same state of uncertainty with respect to a great deal of Hitler's statements, were you not?

A. It is very difficult to judge statesmen on their ideas about politics from various scattered quotations. If one were to do this it would be hard to find any statesman of whom one could say that he had ever any definite idea, for statesmen are in the difficult position of being in politics which is something changing and developing, and statesmen always adapt themselves to this changing characteristic of politics. This has not been only a quality of Hitler's but of all statesmen, until this very day.

Q. Let us leave the statesmen and the politicians then and go to the lawyer of the Third Reich, Carl Schmitt, whom you quote in your direct examination as the author of what you call the theory of "friend and foe". You pointed out to the Court that this theoretician of the Nazi movement, the top legal theoretician, had, in your opinion, an impossible doctrine. Schmitt was the top juridical commentator on the Nazi State, was he not?

A. In 1933 and 1934, yes, but then it was at an end after that.

Q. Now, in Schmitt's conception, man had the very power, which Hitler described here, to coerce his weaker brother, did he not, the moral right to do it?

A. That is why the SD for instance saw to it that Schmitt disappeared as the top jurist of the Third Reich because he credited such mistaken theories to National Socialism.

Q. Will you tell us the name of another man whom the SD destroyed because he opposed your view of National Socialism?

A. That is very difficult. You ask very much. National Socialism, unfortunately, had not time to work out its theory thoroughly and thus I looked in vain for even one book of principle on which National Socialism really was based.

Q. Let us go to Gottfried Feder.* When was his influence ended in Germany?

A. Already before Hitler assumed power, because when he became under secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture in 1933, this was the last honor which one gave him. Actually he didn't have anything to say in the Agricultural Ministry after 1933, nor did he have any political significance at all.

Q. Very well. He was free of political pressure, and it was he who said that the master race dogma was the emotional founda- [...tion]
* Early member of the National Socialist Party, author of the official party program.


founda...] tion of the Nazi movement. Do you care to comment on that, do you care to comment on the Herrenvolk, the importance of it to the Nazi movement?

A. If you were to know Gottfried Feder you would assume that he arrived at the idea of the master race from his own vanity. Outside of him and Ley and two other people, there was certainly no logic in the leadership for raising this nonsense of the master race. The office for racial politics dealing with such racial problems never represented this theory.

Q. Let us move then to some other representatives and at later dates. In August 1942, we find Rosenberg,¹ spokesman, saying "The Slavs are to work for us. Insofar as we do not need them they may die. Therefore compulsory vaccination and Germanic health services are superfluous. The fertility of the Slavs is undesirable." Now, Rosenberg, would you classify him as the spokesman for the National Socialist State?

A. Certainly, but I don't believe that he expressed this in this form for I knew him personally. He was anything but a man who would even say such a thing; certainly not act accordingly. I never could consider him an enemy of the Slavs.

Q. Very well. He himself, I believe, came from Russia, did he not?

A. Yes, he was a Balt. Q. Well, let's see about Hans Frank.² How do you place him in the Nazi hierarchy in 1941 at the time you were in Russia?

A. Frank is a pathological case and no one who knew the conditions in the Reich considered him anything else, not even Hitler.

Q. Well, for what it is worth * * *. I beg your pardon, proceed.

A. The same thing would go for Frank as what I said before. You might quote from him about the "Rechtsstaat" [legal state] as it could not have been formulated any better by the best Democrat, and you could list him as the greatest enemy of the SS and of the police, but he was taken seriously neither as the one nor as the other, and the fact that he came to the General Government was the result of the fact that Hitler did not want to make him Minister of Justice, even though the Minister of Justice was deceased and no one had been found to replace him. The General Government was not considered to be a permanent organization and therefore the Governor General, the title of the Governor
¹ Defendant before International Military Tribunal. See Trial of the Major War Criminals, Vols. I-XLII.
² Governor General of Poland, defendant before the International Military Tribunal. See Trial of the Major War Criminals, Vols. I-XLII.


General was considered to be honorary, and even a Frank was not considered to be able to mess it up because he had no spiritual strength.

Q. That is one of your protests against the course of National Socialism, is it not, that psychopaths and irresponsibles were given power in this personal staff?

A. I don't think that it is a single case, but this has happened time and again in politics.

Q. I understood you to say to the Court that most of your difficulties in the Party came from your opposition to those men who advocated total destruction of the objective or institutional state, is that right?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. You had been convinced by a year's study of Mussolini's personal autocracy that Italian fascism was a bad thing?

A. Yes.

Q. And it was bad because Mussolini had completely destroyed institutional restraints on men who wielded power?

A. I would rather express it positively, because this was an unrestricted dictatorship in the form of a totalitarian state.

Q. Very well. I think we say the same thing in different words, do we not?

A. Yes, from the positive side.

Q. In 1933, when Hitler, after he was made chancellor, had legal power to legislate by himself without the restraint of any constitution, was he not in precisely the same situation and did he not have the same power to act that Mussolini had acquired, from the legal standpoint?

A. Yes, I understand you completely. The difference is that the one was National Socialist and the other was Fascist. Hitler for himself did not make up a constitution for an absolute state, but because he had a different opinion of the state he had himself given power for a definite period of time. And this was nothing else but a constitutional means, which during the parliamentary period of the Weimar Constitution was also used then, especially in the years 1931 and 1932, when paragraph 48 of the Weimar Constitution was the basic support of the government. This law giving a government the power must not let one conclude that Hitler wanted to establish a dictatorship, but he took a constitutional means, and I know that during the entire time of the Hitler government, even during the war, it was the idea to build a senate, a kind of parliamentary system; and I know that several times Hitler complained to acquaintances that he still had not found any man who could rebuild the state for him and who could give


the state the appropriate legal form. I don't believe that Hitler wanted a dictatorship.
* * * * * * * * * *

Q. Well, you went to Poland with Himmler in 1940?

A. 1939.

Q. 1939. All right. And Heydrich sent you along with Himmler, you say? Disputes arose between you and Himmler in 1939?

A. They really were monologues because Himmler —

Q. That's all right, whether it was monologue or not. He reproached you that members of the SD in Poland had not been able to treat the Jews in a manner in which he had wanted, and that, you say "was a product of my education". What was it he wanted done to the Jews in Poland which he said you had failed to do?

A. That is connected with the actions about which I have answered to the prosecutor on his previous questions. It was in the same city where differences between Streckenbach and Himmler occurred. It concerned the same actions.

Q. You mean the actions under a Fuehrer Order, an order similar to the order which controlled you in Russia?

A. Yes. During the direct examination I already answered the questions by the presiding judge, and today I answered your questions, that the contents were not the same, but a directive which was only given once concerning certain definite single actions.

Q. Tell us how orders that you operated under in 1941 in Russia differed from the order which controlled killing of Jews in Poland in 1939?

+A. In Poland individual actions had been ordered, while in Russia, during the entire time of the commitment, the killing of all Jews had been ordered. Special actions in Poland had been ordered, whose contents I do not know in detail.

* * * * * * * * * *

Q. You have told the Court that the army was perfectly aware of this decree, or this order to kill, and that it had the obligation also to execute the order within its ability? Is that right?

A. Yes, but I do not know that in this order insane persons were mentioned; but I would have considered the insane persons just like anybody else because they would have come under the order if they, owing to their condition, would have endangered security — but not only because they were insane — for that reason I rejected this request.

Q. You don't mean to say that the persons you killed had to endanger security in order to be killed, do you?

A. In the sense of the Fuehrer Order, yes.

Q. Well, let's not say about the sense of the Fuehrer Order.


Let's talk about reality. Did the people you killed in fact endanger security in any conceivable way?

A. Even if you don't want to discuss the Fuehrer Order it cannot be explained in any other way. There were two different categories; one, where those people who, through the Fuehrer Order, were considered to endanger the security were concerned and, therefore, had to be killed. The others, namely, the active Communists or other people were people whose endangering of security was established by us and they were only killed if they actually seemed to endanger the security.

Q. Very well. I repeat my question: Apart from the Fuehrer Order, and not because the Fuehrer Order assumed that every man of Jewish blood endangered the security of the Wehrmacht, but from your own experience in Russia, from your own objective witnessing of the situation in Russia, did every Jew in Russia that you killed in fact endanger security, in your judgment?

A. I cannot talk about this without mentioning the Fuehrer Order because this Fuehrer Order did not only try to fight temporary danger, but also danger which might arise in the future.

Q. Well, let us get back to it immediately, and let us see if we can't talk about it without the Fuehrer Order. I ask you the simple question * * *. From your own objective view of the situation in Russia, did the Jews whom you killed, and the gypsies, endanger the security of the German army in any way?

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 22761
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Postby David Thompson » 21 Sep 2004 04:05

Part 4 of 5:

A. I did not examine that in detail. I only know that many of the Jews who were killed actually endangered the security by their conduct, because they were members of the partisan groups for example, or supported the partisans in some way, or sheltered agents, etc.

Q. Let's put the partisans or those who were aiding the partisans completely aside.

A. I will assist you, Mr. Prosecutor. Of course, at a certain time there were persons of whom one could not have said at that moment that they were an immediate danger, but that does not change the fact that for us it meant a danger insofar as they were determined to be a danger, and none of us examined whether these persons at the moment, or in the future, would actually constitute danger, because this was outside our knowledge, and not part of our task.

Q. Very well. You did not do it then because it was outside of your task. I want you to do it today for this Tribunal. Will you tell us then whether in your objective judgment, apart from the Fuehrer's Decree, all of the Jews that you killed constituted any conceivable threat to the German Wehrmacht [armed forces].

A. For me, during my time in Russia there is no condition


which is not connected with the Fuehrer Order. Therefore, I cannot give you this answer which you would like to have.

Q. You refuse to make the distinction, which any person can easily make — you need not answer that. Let me make it clear then, in the Crimea — no, I believe near Nikolaev, Himmler came to see you in the spring of 1942, did he not, or fall of 1941?

A. Beginning of October 1941.

Q. You had then been working in that area a considerable number of Jewish farmers, is that right, and you had determined not to put them to death?

A. Yes.

Q. You made a determination then that those men did not then constitute any security threat whatever to the German armed forces?

A. No; I did not make such a determination but, in the interest of the general situation, and of the army, I considered it more correct not to kill these Jews because the contrary would be achieved by this, namely, in the economic system of this country everything would be upset, which would have its effect on the operation of the Wehrmacht as well.

Q. Then, I ask you the question again. Because these people were farmers, you concluded that it was wiser to get the grain they produced, than to put them to death?

A. Also because of the danger that they might shelter partisans, yes; I was conscious of this danger.

Q. What danger, that they might shelter partisans in their houses?

A. That these Jews might have contact with the partisans.

Q. So the only threat you saw to security was the possibility that the Jews would conceal partisans in their houses?

A. No; I only named this as an example. There might have been agents against us who could endanger us in every way. I only mentioned this as an example.

Q. The same situation would exist in the case of the Krimchaks, wouldn't it, or what do you call them, Karaims.

A. Karaims.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Mr. Heath, I must confess a confusion here. I understand the witness to say, or perhaps you said it, that the reason the Jewish farmers were not executed is that they were used to bring in the harvest. Then a discussion ensued as to the possible threat that these Jews could bring to the security because they could house partisans. There must be a contradiction there; in one instance, they were a threat and, therefore, were subject to executions. Were they saved, or were they not saved? If they were saved, why, and if they were killed, why?


which is not connected with the Fuehrer Order. Therefore, I cannot give you this answer which you would like to have.

Q. You refuse to make the distinction, which any person can easily make — you need not answer that. Let me make it clear then, in the Crimea — no, I believe near Nikolaev, Himmler came to see you in the spring of 1942, did he not, or fall of 1941?

A. Beginning of October 1941.

Q. You had then been working in that area a considerable number of Jewish farmers, is that right, and you had determined not to put them to death?

A. Yes.

Q. You made a determination then that those men did not then constitute any security threat whatever to the German armed forces?

A. No; I did not make such a determination but, in the interest of the general situation, and of the army, I considered it more correct not to kill these Jews because the contrary would be achieved by this, namely, in the economic system of this country everything would be upset, which would have its effect on the operation of the Wehrmacht as well.

Q. Then, I ask you the question again. Because these people were farmers, you concluded that it was wiser to get the grain they produced, than to put them to death?

A. Also because of the danger that they might shelter partisans, yes; I was conscious of this danger.

Q. What danger, that they might shelter partisans in their houses?

A. That these Jews might have contact with the partisans.

Q. So the only threat you saw to security was the possibility that the Jews would conceal partisans in their houses?

A. No; I only named this as an example. There might have been agents against us who could endanger us in every way. I only mentioned this as an example.

Q. The same situation would exist in the case of the Krimchaks, wouldn't it, or what do you call them, Karaims.

A. Karaims.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Mr. Heath, I must confess a confusion here. I understand the witness to say, or perhaps you said it, that the reason the Jewish farmers were not executed is that they were used to bring in the harvest. Then a discussion ensued as to the possible threat that these Jews could bring to the security because they could house partisans. There must be a contradiction there; in one instance, they were a threat and, therefore, were subject to executions. Were they saved, or were they not saved? If they were saved, why, and if they were killed, why?


MR. HEATH: As I understood the witness, your Honor, he said he was balancing the desirability of getting in the harvest as against a potential threat.


MR. HEATH: He exercised discretion.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: And came to the conclusion that there was more to be gained by not liquidating.

MR. HEATH: Precisely, so I understand it.


DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I think it is even simpler. They were not farmers, they were craftsmen, who when there would be no longer work for them to do would endanger considerably the interests of the Wehrmacht. I never considered this problem in discussion but now Himmler came to me and ordered that these Jews were to be treated according to the Fuehrer Order, without any further discussion, and without any further consideration of circumstances.

MR. HEATH: What about the gypsies. I believe you have no idea whatever as to how many gypsies your Kommando killed, have you?

A. No. I don't know.

Q. On what basis did you kill gypsies, just because they were gypsies? Why were they a threat to the security of the Wehrmacht?

A. It is the same as for the Jews.

Q. Blood?

A. I think I can add up from my own knowledge of European history that the Jews actually during wars regularly carried on espionage service on both sides.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: You were asked about gypsies.

MR. HEATH: I was asking you about gypsies, as the Court points out, and not Jews. * * *. I would like to ask you now on what basis you determined that every gypsy found in Russia should be executed, because of the danger to the German Wehrmacht?

A. There was no difference between gypsies and Jews. At the time the same order existed for the Jews. I added the explanation that it is known from European history that the Jews actually during all wars carried out espionage service on both sides.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Well, now, what we are trying to do is to find out what you are going to say about the gypsies, but you still insist on going back to the Jews, and Mr. Heath is questioning about gypsies. Is it also in European history that gypsies always participated in political strategy and campaigns?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Espionage organizations during campaigns.



A. The gypsies in particular. I want to draw your recollection to extensive descriptions of the Thirty Year War by Ricarda Huch and Schiller —

Q. That is going back pretty far in order to justify the killing of gypsies in 1941, isn't it?

A. I added that as an explanation, as such motive might have played a part in this, to get at this decision.

Q. Could you give us an illustration of any activity of a band of gypsies on behalf of Russia against Germany during this late war?

A. Only the same claim that can be maintained as with regard to Jews, that they actually played a part in the partisan war.

Q. You, yourself cannot give us any illustration of any gypsies being engaged in espionage or in any way sabotaging the German war effort?

A. That is what I tried to say just now. I don't know whether it came out correctly in the translation. For example, in the Yaila Mountains, such activity of gypsies has also been found.

Q. Do you know that of your own personal knowledge?

A. From my personal knowledge, of course, that is to say always from the reports which came up from the Yaila Mountains.

Q. In an instance in which gypsies were included among those who were liquidated, could you find an objective reason for their liquidation?

A. From Russia I only knew of the gypsy problem from Simferopol. I do not know any other actions against gypsies, except from the one in Simferopol.


MR. HEATH: May I proceed, your Honor?


MR. HEATH: Mr. Ohlendorf, you say the gypsies are notorious bearers of intelligence? Isn't it a fact that the nationals of any invaded state are notorious bearers of intelligence. Didn't the Americans bear intelligence, and the Germans bear intelligence, and the Russians bear intelligence for their countries when they were at war?

A. But the difference is here that these populations, for example, the German population, or the American population have permanent homes, whereas gypsies being unsettled as people without permanent homes are more prepared to change their residence for a more favorable economic situation, which another place might promise them. I believe that a German, for example, is very unsuited for espionage.

* * * * * * * * * *


Q. Mr. Ohlendorf, on the question of the order which you say you felt you had to honor and fulfill, the Fuehrer Order. It is a fact, is it not, that you could have failed in your duty as a soldier and escaped this without any penalty, in short, you could have played sick.

A. I have already had this question addressed to me in the direct examination because I expected it.

Q. Let's see if you expect the next one — I suppose you do. At one juncture you were told by the Chief of Staff of the army above you, down there, in the south of Russia, that unless your collaboration with the army improved, he, Colonel Woehler — I forget his name — he would recommend your immediate dismissal in Berlin, so there was a way, was there not, where you could have avoided service merely by refusing to be agreeable with other military gentlemen. Is that right?

A. This discussion with Woehler did not concern our debate but factual reproaches which were unfounded. And I did not do anything else than rectify untrue reproaches.

Q. I am sorry, I didn't understand that. Is it true that you were threatened with a recommendation for dismissal unless your collaboration with the army improved?

A. No. It was the first word of the Chief of Staff, "If your cooperation with us does not improve, we will request that you be dismissed," and then a number of factual reproaches which were untrue, and I was merely given the chance by the Chief of Staff to reject these untrue charges. Nothing else was being discussed. I do not think that you expect that, in order to be relieved, I should have let myself and my men be wrongly accused.

Q. No, no, I had no idea that you would do any such thing. I simply wanted to find out whether it was possible for you to win a dismissal from this job or task that you had by disagreeing with the military and you have said that it was.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Witness, I understand that there was a conference at Pretzsch when you first learned of this mission. How many of the defendants were present at that conference?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I cannot say that for certain.

Q. At the conference in — I am sure I will mispronounce this word — Nikolaev — how many of the defendants were present if you recall?

A. Merely Seibert was present then.

Q. Who?

A. Only the defendant Seibert was present.

* * * * * * * * * *

MR. WALTON: General, did you ever have the feeling that the


Fuehrer Order, about which so much has been said here, was an illegal order?


Q. Have you ever heard, during your career, of the recognized laws and customs of war?

A. Of course.

Q. Have you ever heard of the Geneva Convention?

A. Of course.

Q. And have you ever heard of the Hague Convention?

A. Naturally.

Q. From your study of law, and your high rank in an organization subject to military law, did you not know that the killing of civilians in occupied areas, without any trial, is considered by both international law and the laws and customs of war to be plain murder, and nothing else?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was it, in one of your Kommandos, who had the power and the authority to decide whether a person was a Jew, or gypsy, or a Communist, and to order his execution?

A. That was up to the Kommandos.

Q. By that am I to presume that it was the Kommando leader, the commanding officer of that unit?

A. He was responsible for what happened in his field.

Q. Was there any one else in a Kommando, the second in command, or the leading noncommissioned officer — could he decide whether a man was a Jew or a gypsy and order his execution?

A. Before answering this question concretely I wish to point out that in considering the question of discretion as to how to carry out the order — the entire situation should be considered. For example, concerning the Jews, it was usual that the Kommandos called the Jewish elders to determine who was Jewish and who was not. The possibility to go beyond this decision was not given to the Kommandos. Therefore, they had to accept the statements of the Jews themselves as a basis of their orders. The Kommando chief could not go beyond this and carry out the executions independently but he had to rely on his officers who were, for instance, chiefs of Teilkommandos for these assignments. As the Tribunal knows, this question had already been decided before the war by order of the Fuehrer, through Keitel, insofar as individual officers had the opportunity to arrive at a decision whether or not a person was suspicious, and whether he might endanger the security. In my direct examination I have already explained that this statement went too far, in my opinion, and therefore, I gave the order that the suspicion must be confirmed. But to ask for more, for example, concerning the Jews,


than, to believe the statements of the Jewish elders could not have been expected of the Kommandos because there was no possibility of doing more. Doing more would have meant questioning the task.

Q. Then the registration list of the Jewish population handed to the Kommando leader by the Jewish Council of Elders was sufficient to denominate those named as Jews?

A. In order to complete it, the Jewish elders themselves took the Jews to the registration place or the collection place.

Q. Now, was the denouncement of a gypsy by a civilian sufficient identification that could cause his execution by Einsatzgruppe D?

A. No. I remember cases in Simferopol where to identify gypsies the certification of two witnesses, at least, was required by the Kommando there.

Q. These witnesses came, of course, from the civilian population of the area in which this man was arrested?

A. Yes. Q. And these witnesses claimed to have known it?

A. Yes. That was the difficulty, because some of the gypsies — if not all of them — were Moslems, and for that reason we attached a great amount of importance to not getting into difficulties with the Tartars and, therefore, people were employed in this task who knew the places and the people.

Q. Then there was more investigation in the case of gypsies than there was in the case of a Jew, is that right?

A. There were fewer gypsies than there were Jews and, as I said yesterday already, I only remember one great action in Simferopol.

Q. You stated in your testimony last Wednesday, did you not, that you personally never issued execution orders. Am I correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Who issued orders for these executions?

A. The procedure cannot be explained in one sentence because the order for execution as such had been given from the start in Pretzsch, and also later by the Reich Leader SS. But the Kommandos took it for granted that when they came to a larger city the solution of the Jewish question would be the first problem to be solved, and therefore, the executions developed, not from an order, but as a consequence of a number of occurrences — such as the consultation of a Council of Elders, registration, etc., until the final operation resulted. The same happened in the case of the executions themselves, where a number of organizational occurrences took place one after the other; a definite order was only given, really, at the moment when an officer stood before a


military unit and gave the order to shoot. Everything else develops, one occurrence following another.

Q. In your direct testimony, and yesterday in some of your cross-examination, reference was made quite frequently to "the army". To what army, or army group, were you referring?

A. In my case, to group 11, 11th Army.

Q. Now, who commanded the 11th Army when you were in command of Einsatzgruppe D?

A. First, General Ritter von Schobert. He was killed. After that, there was a temporary assignment; and then later, Field Marshal von Manstein.

Q. Did you ever have any contact — that is, official contact — with Army Group South during your career as commander of Einsatzgruppe D?

A. With the army Group South itself? No. Only with the army. The reason was that the 11th Army was independent, relatively. It had been intended as a nucleus for a new army group which was to operate in the Caucasus Mountains. The army units, at that time, were still in the Baltics in readiness.

Q. How often were you in contact with General von Schobert, and later Field Marshal von Manstein?

A. I reported to General von Schobert, as shown in the documents, on 12 June. Then I saw him again in the army casino once or twice. And von Manstein, I mostly saw in the Crimea on duty, as well as privately; for example, he put me in charge of recruiting Tartars. I also had personal discussions with him about the question of military commitments of my unit. Contact with the army became closer in time because the difficulties of the first months proved some officers so wrong that they had to apologize to me and now the other officers tried to eliminate these former differences. It took longest with Manstein. Not before the spring 1942 was I invited by him personally, for the first time, to his castle on the south coast, which he had set up for recuperation. There I was, together with my successor von Alvensleben, and three or four officers of the army, invited to his place one evening and I stayed there the night. The next morning I had breakfast with him, and then I travelled on. The second time I was privately invited was for the celebration when Sevastopol had fallen. Apart from that, there was constant contact with the army, owing to the fact that there was a liaison officer with the army who shared his billet with the counterintelligence officer; and beyond that, Herr Seibert, at least once a week, visited the Chief of Staff, the intelligence officers, or the chief of partisan warfare with whom arrangements were made. Naturally, I had more to do with the Chief of Staff than with the commander in chief. And for that


reason I visited him officially, repeatedly. Finally, after the winter of 1941, a very lively personal relation with the staff officer of the army took place in my casino. For example, during the Christmas celebration the staff of the army was completely represented, and also during my farewell party.

Q. General, I think the translation came through incorrectly. The way I heard it when you were mentioning the commanders of the 11th Army, the name von Alvensleben came through as your successor.

A. I want to complete this. Einsatzgruppe D was given to Colonel [Oberfuehrer] Bierkamp, but he was with Einsatzgruppe D only for a short time in the Crimea. The Crimea was given over to the civil administration and Alvensleben became SS and Police Leader for the Crimea, and in this he became my successor for that area and not in my position as chief of the Einsatzgruppe.

Q. Then, from what you have just said in answer to the question, your personal and official contacts with the army under Field Marshal von Manstein were more frequent and more friendly than with his predecessor, General von Schobert?

A. Yes. I believe he was only with the army for four weeks before he died in battle.

Q. Can you remember now when Field Marshal von Manstein succeeded General von Schobert, that is, the approximate date?

A. I cannot remember the exact date, but I think that von Manstein became successor of von Schobert in September 1941 at the latest.

Q. Did General von Schobert or Field Marshal Manstein ever issue orders to your Gruppe concerning executions?

A. That question is too definite, Mr. Prosecutor. Such orders existed in various forms. For example, he told the defendant Seibert, who is present here, that retaliation measures which he had ordered were not sufficient, and for that reason he would have to take a hand himself, or, as I described concerning Simferopol, where the army requested that the liquidation of Jews be carried out immediately. Apart from that, there was the idea of killing certain persons like, for example, the insane people but I cannot always say, of course, that this was of the army itself. But the Einsatzkommandos were assigned to units or divisions, so that contact with the Kommandos, and, therefore, the issuing of individual orders were settled in the individual areas to smaller units rather than in the central offices.

Q. Then Field Marshal von Manstein did personally issue instructions or orders concerning the executions in Simferopol about which we have spoken?

A. No, I cannot say that, but an instruction came — so far as I


remember after discussing it with Braune — from the Quartermaster General, then Colonel Haack, but in the organization of the army, it is natural that the Quartermaster General on his own authority cannot do such things without the approval of his commander in chief. I, therefore, cannot say that von Manstein knew about it, or that he ordered it. I am merely considering it to be so owing to the military situations.

Q. It is highly probable that Field Marshal von Manstein did know and did instruct his staff officer to issue orders, is that correct?

A. In any case, I cannot imagine that a staff officer can make such demands on his own authority.

Q. General, who were the army officers with whom you usually had conferences about the activity of the Einsatzgruppen D ?

A. That was the intelligence officer.

Q. Can you give me his name?

A. First, Major Ranck, later his successor, Major Eisler, or Lieutenant Colonel Eisler; the counterintelligence officer, Major Riesen, and the chief of partisan warfare was Major Stephanus. The other staff officers I think are not of such great interest in this connection, that is, the operations officers, Colonel Busse, and another one, von Werner. They are the most important names I know of.

Q. You say all of these were on the staff of General von Schobert, or Field Marshal Manstein.

A. Yes.

Q. Did these same officers whom you have named hand down to you orders for the execution of Jews?

A. No. I cannot say that.

Q. For the execution of gypsies?

A. No. I cannot say that, either.

Q. For the execution of the insane?

A. As I said before, I do not definitely know whether this order was given by the central office, or from the medical offices, or from the regional offices.

Q. Who issued the orders for the killing of active Communists and Soviet officials?

A. For these groups the order was contained in the general Fuehrer Order.

Q. I believe you testified a few moments ago that the liaison officer of Einsatzgruppe D with the 11th Army was the present defendant Seibert?

A. No, the liaison officer was another man. Seibert belonged to my staff, and was in my billets, while the liaison officer was another


officer, who was in the staff of the army, and also shared his billets with the army.

Q. Now, General, you have admitted here that during the time you commanded Einsatzgruppe D, an unidentified number of persons were executed by the units under your command, and I believe you testified further that the responsibility for the actual executions generally was with the Kommando leader, am I correct?

A. Responsibility is a word which can be interpreted in different ways — those who gave the order were responsible. They were responsible for the carrying out.

Q. Just as a matter of information, will you state in detail what normal channel the order went through from the authority issuing it to the man who actually pulled the trigger?

A. I believe my entire examinations show that this order was given once, namely, in Pretzsch; there the initiative was given, and, therefore, no new initial order was given in my time. I never received an initial order unless one would consider the order to segregate prisoners of war such an additional order. The original order, as I have said, was sent to the chiefs of the Einsatzgruppen, and to the Kommando leaders who were assembled.

Q. This in effect is true. Because of the difficulty of communications in the area in which you found yourself, your Kommando leaders were largely, because of poor communications, independent units, were they not?

A. The Kommando leaders were independent, there is no doubt about that. They had to be able to act independently for reasons as you gave just now.

Q. And they made a great many decisions without having to consult either you or higher authorities, did they not?

A. These decisions, Mr. Prosecutor, have to be stated more definitely. In this general form I cannot answer, yes or no.

Q. I apologize. They created tactical situations without consulting higher headquarters, did they not?

A. Of course.

Q. Now to select these commanders, great care had to be exercised as to their ability. Their initiative and their general ability to do the job?

A. Of course.

Q. And they were entrusted with the command of a subunit of yours?

A. It is rather difficult to answer this.

Q. I will repeat, General. I shall rephrase the question. Because of their careful selection, you relied on their judgment in given situations, did you not?

A. The Kommando leaders had certain tasks. These tasks they


had to carry out. I did not choose the Kommando leaders, or else they would have been quite different ones, but they were appointed by the Reich Security Main Office and they had to carry out the tasks which they had been assigned to do; I had to rely on it, that according to their best ability they would fulfill these tasks. But since I did not rely on it completely, I tried, by inspections, to find out whether the Kommandos were in order, and whether the tasks were carried out. Unfortunately, it was not possible to inspect them all; some I could not visit even once within six months, because it was very difficult to get there. Unfortunately, I had no influence on the choice of Kommando leaders.

Q. In your direct examination you have explained your position and relationship with the chief of the 11th Army. My question in connection with this topic may be, therefore, in a sense a little repetitious, but nevertheless, I would like you to answer this for the information of the Tribunal. Which were the special tasks which were assigned to you by the army on the basis of the so-called Barbarossa Decree?

A. The basic task surely was to supply information and to look after the police tasks and the security of the army. Beyond that, the army gave definite detailed tasks, and these changed according to the situation. For example, in July and August, the harvest had to be brought in, and the rear had to be guarded; in November and December and January, to make inquiries about the partisans, and to fight them; immediate military commitments, and then again the information service. These changed according to the situation.

MR. WALTON: At this time, may it please the Tribunal, I should like to submit to the witness for his examination the Document NOKW-256, Prosecution Exhibit 174. There are copies in the German language ready for distribution just as there are in the English now.

* * * * * * * * * *

MR. WALTON: Have you ever received this or a similar document containing this decree?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I should think that this is one of the drafts for the so-called Barbarossa Decree. I do not think that this draft actually constitutes the Barbarossa Decree, but considerable parts are contained in it. I believe that there are not a great number of differences in the contents.

Q. Was there anything said in the Barbarossa Decree outlining the collaboration of the Sonderkommandos, and the army in the rear areas?

A. I just forgot one thing. This text shows in this draft the Einsatzgruppen in the operational areas and also Einsatzgruppen


in the rear areas. There were no such double assignments. Only one Einsatzgruppe was assigned to the army, to each group, and the army group decided how they were to be used.

Q. Whether they were to be used in the rear areas, or in the forward areas, the army decided that?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, isn't it true, that this Barbarossa Decree, that Himmler's orders based on it made it plain that the Sonderkommandos should carry out their missions under their own responsibility?

A. That is not clear here, either, because the expression "own responsibility" I presume, means that the chief of the Security Police and the SD could give instructions to these Kommandos, which then were carried out on their responsibility; but it never meant that this happened beyond the authority of the army, or rather of the army group; and this limitation is shown in this draft. Because every time it says that the instructions are to be passed to the army and the army can make restrictions. The army can exclude areas; it can make restrictions if the operational situation requires it. Later in the Barbarossa Decree, it says that operational necessity can cause the army to give instructions or to change them. This sense is revealed clearly in this draft, "own responsibility" never means beyond the actual authority of the Commander in Chief of the army, as contained in his task. This is shown in the assignment of the Einsatzgruppen and in the instructions of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces for the competence of the Commander in Chief.

Q. Then, General, in short, within the broad framework of the order, the Fuehrer Order, subject to the tactical situation at any time, which was the responsibility of the army, it was entirely up to the decision of the Einsatzgruppe as to how to carry out these missions, was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Now then, did the responsibility mentioned in this draft of the Barbarossa Decree include executions?

A. The Einsatzkommandos had the order, and the tasks to carry out certain executions, of course.

Q. By the Barbarossa Decree?

A. No. I did not say that. At least, I did not intend to say that. I do not know that in the Barbarossa Decree this order for extermination is contained. To repeat it: I do not know that in the Barbarossa — Fuehrer Order — anything was contained about the killing of certain groups of the population.

Q. General, I won't quarrel with you, but the testimony is very clear on your orders for execution. I leave that point at this time. Now, General, did it ever happen that the order of the commander


of the 11th Army, or his staff, was given directly to the Kommandos — these units which were subordinate to you?

A. Which orders?

Q. Any orders?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. How did you obtain knowledge of such orders, since they did not pass through your headquarters?

A. For example, in a written order I was mentioned on distribution lists, therefore a written order to a Kommando was passed on to me. This of course, was only the case if they were orders by the army. Orders by a corps, or by the division I did not see, of course.

Q. But you were informed of it through other distribution lists, after the order was actually given?

A. Yes, so far as it was given by the army.

Q. Were you ever informed if an army group, or an army corps gave an order to a subunit of yours?

A. Whether I was informed?

Q. For instance, if the chief of Einsatzkommando 11b was detached from your headquarters, and attached to the army corps? Do you follow me?

A. Yes.

Q. And the tactical situation was such that the Einsatzkommando 11b should be committed for a certain specific task, the army group commander issued an order directly to the commander of the Einsatzkommando 11b?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, were you later, through official correspondence or through reports of your Kommando, informed that that actual order was given?

A. Of course, in writing or orally if the Kommando leader considered it necessary that I should know about this event.

Q. Then your information did not come from a copy of that order sent to you through official channels, but through the report of your Kommando leader?

A. In that case, if the army had not given a written order, only that way, of course. If they had given a written order, on the whole, they would have given me a copy.

Q. Then you obtained your knowledge of this type of orders from a report submitted to you by your Kommando leader?

A. Yes.

Q. General, was it the task of the liaison officer of the different units of the Einsatzgruppen to transmit such orders?

A. I believe I must ask a preliminary question. By liaison officer You mean the officer who was in the staff of the army?

Q. Yes.


A. In the document book such an occurrence is mentioned, the case of Romanenko. There, the document shows that the liaison officer got an order from the commander in chief and gave it to the Kommando itself immediately. This shows that the Kommando was in the place where the commander in chief was, while I was with the staff of the Einsatzgruppe about two hundred kilometers to the west. Therefore, if the commander in chief wanted to hand something to a Kommando, he could easily give such instructions to the liaison officer.

MR. WALTON: Now I shall have to avail myself of the privilege of forgetting one or two questions. Your Honor, I should like to draw the witness' attention back to some moments ago when I was asking him about who had the authority to make selections for executions. It is entirely out of the context now, but my attention has been called to it. I ask permission to go back and ask him.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I recall that you did go over that subject, but there is no reason why you can't go back to it.

MR. WALTON: There is one class which I forgot to ask who made the selection. General, who made the selection of Communist and Soviet officials for execution?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The procedure was that certain persons were arrested and these persons were taken to be examined, as is usual, by the police. The interrogating officer, mostly together with the Kommando leader, determined the result of the examination, and with that they determined whether the man endangered the security, or whether he did not, and they passed a judgment on this person.

Q. It usually turned out, did it not, that a member of the Communist Party and a Soviet official of the Communist Party or of the civil administration were considered a definite threat to the security of the German Armed Forces?

A. Yes. PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Witness, in carrying out the procedure which you have just indicated, I assume that in many, if not all of the towns, that you would find yourself liquidating the governing authorities, the mayors, the councils, etc., because naturally they would be members of the Communist Party, is that true?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: So far as I know the conditions in the cities or districts where the Einsatzkommandos entered, there was no administration any more, but the leading personalities had escaped or were hidden.

MR. WALTON: General, how were the condemned people assembled for an execution?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: In detail I cannot describe that.


Q. I believe you stated in the matter of the Jews that the registration through the Council of Elders stated who was a Jew. Now, if it was determined that so many would be executed, were the Council of Elders instructed to assemble so many people?

A. To assemble the people, yes.

Q. Now, was there any pretext given, either by the Kommando leader or by the Jewish Council of Elders, to get these people to assemble?

A. Yes. For example, on the resettlement question.

Q. They were told that they had to move or they would be moved to a place for resettlement, is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Now then, what disposition was made of these people after they had assembled in the market square or at the place designated?

A. It was tried, for example, to compare whether registration lists were the same as the persons present. The persons were then assembled and then were taken to be executed.

Q. Were they sometimes marched to the place of execution?

A. No. They were taken there by trucks. I just described how in Simferopol the army gave trucks for this purpose.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Did the council of Jewish elders know what was the real purpose of the demanding of this list of the Jews?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Certainly not in my Einsatzgruppe.

Q. Well, after the first contingent had been marched away or transported away, was it not then very obvious what the purpose of the obtaining of this list was?

A. In a city the Jews were then assembled all at once, at one time, for example in barracks or in a large school or in a factory site.

Q. Do I understand then that no executions took place until the council of Jewish elders had completed their work of making up the lists?

A. Yes. MR. WALTON: Now, did you have any army directives or any orders stating the minimum distances from army headquarters where these people could be executed?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: In the case of Simferopol the army decreed that shootings should take place at a certain distance from the city. The same occurred at Nikolaev.

Q. By certain distance do you mean a certain distance from the headquarters, or from the army installation, or from the city itself ?


A. In Simferopol, from the city; in Nikolaev, from the headquarters.

Q. Now, what was the general method used in execution?

A. Only one method was used by me. That was the military manner.

Q. Am I to infer from that: execution by shooting?

A. Yes.

Q. In what position were these victims shot?

A. Standing up or kneeling.

Q. What disposition was made of the corpses of the executed victims?

A. They were buried in that same place. The Kommando who carried out the executions had to prepare the burying so that no signs of the executions could be seen afterwards.

Q. What was done with the personal property of the persons executed, General?

A. The personal property was confiscated. The valuables, according to orders, were given to the Reich Ministry of Finance or rather to the Reich Bank. The personal property was at the disposal of the local Kommando and the city, except for exceptions in Simferopol where a group of the National Socialist Peoples’ Welfare Organization was assigned to the army who took care of the textile items.

Q. Were all the victims, including the men, the women, and the children, executed in the same way?

A. Until the spring of 1942, when by Himmler's order it was determined that women and children be killed by gassing in gas vans. Your Honor, I ask to make a remark about a question in yesterday's examination. I think a mistake arose to the effect that your Honor asked me whether from the reports from the Kommandos the fact that children were shot could be seen. If I have answered to the effect that this opinion was confirmed, that would be wrong. My confirmation in the IMT that men, women, and children are contained in the figures is merely a conclusion from the fact that Jewish men, women, and children were to be shot. In the reports which came from the Kommandos no such difference was made. Actually I do not remember any report where children — or figures of children — are mentioned. I repeat, the statement which I confirm: It was a conclusion I came to, based on the order.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I understand then that a report indicating that 5,000 Jews had been killed would not specify so many children, so many women, but just 5,000 persons?


MR. WALTON: Let me refresh your memory, General, please. I believe you stated in answer to the last question that executions


were entirely in the form of shootings until the spring of 1942 when you received an order to have women and children executed by gas van. I am sorry I missed your statement as to where this order originated, or from whence this order came.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The order of the gas vans came from Himmler immediately and was given to special units who had these gas vans.

Q. These units who had charge of the operation and the maintenance of the gas vans stayed with the vans all the time?

A. Yes. I only saw it myself for a short time because it occurred shortly before I resigned, but the drivers remained there while the officer who had come along originally left later on; but the reason for this was mainly that the vans were refused by the Kommando leaders, and I was not prepared to force the Kommando leaders to use these vans. The vans were practically not used.

Q. General, have you yourself ever seen a gas van?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you give a short description of the physical appearance of a gas van to the Tribunal?

A. It is an ordinary truck just like a box car. It looks like that, like a closed truck.

Q. No windows in the gas van?

A. I beg your pardon?

Q. There were no windows?

A. That is possible.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 22761
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Postby David Thompson » 21 Sep 2004 04:07

Part 5 of 5 (final):

Q. The back of the gas van, did it have a thick door which led into the interior of the gas van?

A. Of course.

Q. And this door was narrow where only one person could enter at a time?

A. No. I believe it was an ordinary door as any other truck has.

Q. Now were the people selected for execution induced to enter these vans?

A. One could not see from the van what purpose it had, and the people were told that they were being moved, and, therefore, they entered without hesitation.

Q. The same information was given them that they would be moved for purposes of resettlement?

A. Yes.

Q. General, could you estimate how many persons could be accommodated at one time in these vans?

A. There were large vans and small vans. The small one might have taken 15 persons and the large one 30.

Q. Did you even learn how long it would take to execute persons by the use of these lethal gas vans after they were subjected to gas?


A. As far as I remember about 10 minutes.

Q. Did all of your Kommandos use these vans?

A. No, because there were more Kommandos than vans. Apart from that one van was no good. They had come from Berlin. One van was sent to Taganrog immediately without my seeing it and never came back, and the other two vans remained in Simferopol.

Q. Did Sonderkommando 10a ever use one of these vans?

A. I already said that one van was sent to Kommando
10a immediately.

Q. I apologize, I missed it.

Did 10b ever use one of these vans?

A. No. I am not sure whether they did use it. I cannot swear to it, but I don't think so.

Q. I accept your answers as the best of your recollection and belief. Did Sonderkommando 11a use one?

A. No. As I said, the two vans were in Simferopol.

Q. 11b, did it ever use one?

A. 11b would have used it I think.

Q. And Einsatzkommando 12, do you recollect that it ever had one?

A. No. They certainly did not have one.

Q. How many people do you estimate — I am sure that you do not remember the exact number, but how many people do you estimate were executed by these vans by Einsatzgruppe D?

A. Please save my mentioning these figures because I don't know anything about 10a and concerning 11b the van may have been used two or three times, I am not sure. I myself hardly saw the van, but only the first time, together with the physician, I had a look that the people went to sleep without any difficulties, and then I must have left. I don't know whether it was used again.

Q. Then some people were executed by means of the gas vans by your subunits?

A. Yes.

* * * * * * * * * *

MR. HEATH: Mr. Ohlendorf, you have just said that you felt that you must respect this order unto your own death.

A. Yes.

Q. You have asked the Court to accept that coercion. Will you now tell the Court what your present judgment is of the order? Do you think it was a moral order or do you think it was a wrong order which you received from the head of the German State?

DR. ASCHENAUER: I object to this question, your Honor. Only facts can be asked about and not opinions.

MR. HEATH: May I answer, if your Honor please. A man who claims mitigation because of superior orders is putting himself in the position of saying, morally, I had no choice. If, in fact, he


morally approved of a superior order and, therefore, would have acted without the coercion of it, if, in fact, he did not object to the coercion but merely lent himself to the course of action which he would have to follow without coercion, then a plea of mitigation fails entirely, and so here, if the defendant did these killings because of the coercive effect of an order, with which he disagreed, that is one thing, but if Ohlendorf was himself in full agreement or in partial agreement with the purpose which Hitler had, then the mitigating effect of the coercion order is fully or almost fully lost.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Dr. Aschenauer, do you follow that argument?

MR. HEATH: The plea is bad, if it is done willingly.

DR. ASCHENAUER: I wish to point out that these are merely argumentations which have nothing to do with the testimony by the witness.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: The Tribunal has indicated that this is not the time for argument, but it would appear that the purpose behind the question is not in the nature of argumentation, but for the purpose of determining whether there can be any mitigation in the offense as charged by the prosecution in the indictment and for that purpose the question will be permitted. The objection is overruled.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Mr. Prosecutor, I have already replied to that question during my direct examination by stating that I considered the order wrong, but I was under military coercion and carried it out under military coercion knowing that it was given in a state of emergency and the measures were ordered as emergency measures in self-defense. The order, as such, even now, I consider to have been wrong, but there is no question for me whether it was moral or immoral, because a leader who has to deal with such serious questions decides from his own responsibility and this is his responsibility and I cannot examine and not judge. I am not entitled to do so.

MR. HEATH: If your Honor please, that is exactly the state of the record and I respectfully submit that we yet have no answer. For this reason the witness has said he thought it was an unjustified order, because it was difficult or impossible of execution, when he was told —

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I didn't say that.

MR. HEATH: When he was told about it at Pretzsch, he thought it was impossible of execution. I think the very issue which he seeks to avoid is the crux of this question, namely, not whether it was a difficult order, or a wise order, from the standpoint of his, but whether it was right or wrong. The issue is a moral one. The


coercion of superior orders goes to the moral coercion and not to the wisdom of the order.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: But, Mr. Heath, hasn't he answered your question?

MR. HEATH: He has said — he said it was a wrong order.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Now, what more do you want? Put another specific question and we will see if he hasn't answered. It appeared to the Tribunal that he has answered, but put the question to him.

MR. HEATH: You have said it was a wrong order. I want you only to tell me whether it was morally wrong or morally right.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: May I correct beforehand that in my reply I never said whether it was a difficult or not a difficult order. That is an assumption which I don't want to have in the record.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Then it must have been an error in transmission, because the Tribunal is under the impression that yesterday you stated in your original protest against the order that it was impossible of fulfillment or very difficult of fulfillment. Are we in error in that impression?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I said "inhuman", your Honor.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I see, very well. The record indicates just what was said. Now, do you want to put another question?

MR. HEATH: I put the same question — Was the order a moral one; was it morally right, or was it morally wrong?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I have just said that I do not think that I am in a position to decide on the moral issue, but I considered it to be wrong because such factors are able to bring such results which may have and, in my opinion, are bound to have immoral effects. But I do not think I am in a position to judge the responsibility of a statesman who, as is shown in history, rightly saw his people before the question of existence or nonexistence, or to judge whether a measure in such a fight against fate, for which this leader is responsible, is moral or immoral.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Do we extract from all that you have said, this thought that you are not prepared to pass upon whether the order was morally right or morally wrong, but you do say that the order could only lead to very bad circumstances which would be injurious to Germany itself.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: Not only to Germany itself, your Honor. I consider this to be much more serious even. I see the order which Hitler gave, not as a first cause for this order, but I already consider it as a result of logical developments which may have started — or at least became very obvious — when in 1935, in our opinion, Germany was encircled. Such measures must further


such developments, for example, to the effect that instead of an understanding, hatred, revenge, and an exaggerated effort to gain security will become very strong and, therefore, the general insecurity of the world will be increased. For example, causing effects, as can be described with the name "Morgenthau Plan" or requests, such as that Germany is being weakened in its greatness and strength so that this people will no longer endanger the security of anyone. That is what I meant by "effect" which might result from such factors, because they are intended for this, while I believe that throughout historical development at some time a chain of hatred or mistrust has to be broken in order to start anew somewhere, and that, for example, I hoped would be achieved through National Socialism which owing to its national basis, must be respected by each individual people, but here the chain is continued, a sequence is continued, which instead of reconciliation breeds more hatred, and increases the craving for security. That is my opinion on this.

MR. HEATH: May I put the question once more, if your Honor please?

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Yes, you may put the question and then the witness may answer it directly, or, if he feels he has already answered it, he may so indicate, or he may refuse to answer it. We will see what happens.

MR. HEATH: I do not ask you for a judgment of Hitler's morals; I ask you for an expression of your own moral conception. The question is not whether Hitler was moral; but what, in your moral judgment, was the character of this order — was it a moral order, or an immoral order?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: The question concludes itself, because you are not asking abstractly for a moral estimate of nothing — but a moral estimate and judgment about a deed of Hitler. And for that reason the judgment which I may make is a judgment on the deed of Hitler.

Q. Then I may ask one more question, and this is the last one, your Honor. You surrendered your moral conscience to Adolf Hitler, did you not?

A. No. But I surrendered my moral conscience to the fact that I was a soldier, and, therefore, a wheel in a low position, relatively, of a great machinery; and what I did there is the same as is done in any other army, and I am convinced that in spite of facts and comparisons which I do not want to mention again, the persons receiving the orders — and all armies are in the same position — until today, until this very day.

Q. It was not the coercion of the Hitler Order which overcame


your moral scruple. It was the fact that you had surrendered to Hitler the power to decide moral questions for you — is that right?

A. That is an argumentation on your part which I never said. No, it is not correct. But as a soldier I got an order, and I obeyed this order as a soldier.

Q. Well, as a soldier you still had a moral conscience — I suppose you did — which required, if you had a moral conscience, you had to judge the orders that came to you. You got an order from Adolf Hitler, and you tell us you accepted his moral judgment absolutely, whether right or wrong — is that right?

A. That I accepted a moral judgment I certainly did not say. I think my answer will not be changed by the fact that you want me to make a certain reply.

Q. Let us put it in the negative, then. You refused to make any moral judgment then, and you refuse now to make any moral judgment?

A. The reason is —

Q. I am not asking you the reason. I am asking whether you refuse to express a moral judgment as to that time, or as of today.

A. Yes.


PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Yesterday Mr. Heath put a question to you which perhaps we did not allow to be answered — but in view of what has now been stated perhaps we might go back just a moment. He asked you whether, when you received this order, any question arose in your mind as to its authenticity, namely, was the order of such a nature that it caused you to hesitate as to whether there could have been an error in it and would cause you to go higher than the officer who had given you this mission, in order to determine, positively, whether it was authentic or not. You remember that discussion?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, when you received this order — it did not come from Hitler, that is, it was Hitler's, but he did not give it to you, it came from Streckenbach.

A. It was handed on, yes.

Q. Yes, very well. And his rank was not so high that an incredible statement by him could be questioned?

A. Yes.

Q. When this order was first presented to you, did it shock you to such extent that you wanted to inquire whether it truly was an order given by Hitler or not; or were you so satisfied that Hitler


knew what to do, and the circumstances were such that even that order could be a logical one, that you accepted it without misgivings, without questioning, without doubts, and without investigations?

A. It was a shock and was dispersed, as I explained yesterday, through reaction towards Streckenbach, and Streckenbach argued on all those questions which your Honor just mentioned. So that during this discussion all the questions have been worked on already, and finally. No other solution was left to us than to accept Streckenbach's experience who knew through his discussion with Hitler that it was quite obvious that there was a Fuehrer Order here which under no circumstances could be cancelled.

Q. You indicated a lack of desire to answer Mr. Heath's question on the moral issue. You indicated that it wasn't for you to decide the moral question at all. But with every order, with every demand, or request, there instinctively goes a moral appraisement — you may agree with it or not — so when this order was given to you to go out to kill, you had to appraise it, instinctively. The soldier who goes into battle knows that he must kill. But he understands that it is a question of a battle with an equally armed enemy. But you were going out to shoot down defenseless people. Now, didn't the question of the morality of that enter your mind? Let us suppose that the order had been — and I don't mean any offense in this question — suppose the order had been that you should kill your sister. Would you not have instinctively morally appraised that order as to whether it was right or wrong — morally, not politically, or militarily, but as a matter of humanity, conscience, and justice between man and man?

A. I am not in a position, your Honor, to isolate this occurrence from the others. I believe during my direct examination plenty of questions of this kind have been dealt with. Probably with the occurrences of 1943, 1944, and 1945 where with my own hands I took children and women out of the burning asphalt myself, with my own hands, and with my own hands I took big blocks of stone from the stomachs of pregnant women; and with my own eyes I saw 60,000 people die within 24 hours — that I am not prepared, or in a position to give today a moral judgment about that order, because in the course of this connection these factors seem to me to be above a moral standard. These years are for me a unit separate from the rest. Full of ruthlessness to destroy and to be inhuman — until today, your Honor, and I am not in a position to take one occurrence or rather a small event of what I experienced and to isolate it and to value it morally in this connection. I ask you to understand that from a human point of view.

Q. Your answer gave a certain date. You mention the years


1943, 1944, 1945. Naturally, these were years following 1941, when you were confronted with that issue.

* * * * * * * * * *

MR. HEATH: The Court made inquiry on which it got no response from the witness, which was, I think, the ultimate question which your Honor was putting to him, namely, if you get an order from Hitler to kill your sister, would you have acted on the order, or would you have had any conflicting moral judgment about the nature of the order? There was no response, and I don't know whether the Court thinks we have gone far enough with the questioning, or, whether we may ask for a response to that question?

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: The Court would not insist on the question being answered because of its very nature, but it seems to me that it is a relevant question, but the witness may or may not answer, as he sees fit.

MR. HEATH: May we then put the question to him, if your Honor please? Witness, if you received an order from Adolf Hitler to kill your own flesh and blood, would you have executed that order, or not?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I consider this question frivolous. The question is being put to me here by the prosecution, it deals with people — with life and death of people, and of millions of people who are near starvation even today, therefore, I can only state that the question is frivolous.

Q. Then I understand you to say that if one person be involved in a killing order, a moral question arises, but if thousands of human beings are involved in it, you can see no moral questions; it is a matter of numbers?

A. Mr. Prosecutor, I think you are the only one to understand my answer in this way, that it is not a matter of one single person, but from the point of departure events have happened in history which among other things have led to deeds committed in Russia, and such an historical process you want me to analyze in a moral way. I do, however, refuse moral evaluation with good reasons as outlined so far as my own conscience is concerned. I am not refusing to answer this last question because it is just one person, in order to bring morality on the basis of numbers, but because the prosecutor now addresses me personally —

Q. I shall not address you personally. Suppose you found your sister in Soviet Russia, and your sister were included in that category of gypsies, and she was brought before you for slaughter because of her presence in the gypsy band; what would have been your action? She is there in the process of history, which you have described?

DR. ASCHENAUER: I object to this question and I ask that this


question not be admitted. I think the subject has been dealt with sufficiently so that no other questions are necessary. This is no question for cross-examination.

MR. HEATH: Your Honor, I believe we have met tests which we applied by putting one of his own flesh and blood in exactly the alleged historical stream in which he can form no judgment. I asked him now whether if he found his own flesh and blood within the Hitler Order in Russia, what would have been his judgment, would it have been moral to kill his own flesh and blood, or immoral.

DR. ASCHENAUER: I ask for a ruling of the Tribunal upon my objection.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: The question indubitably is an extraordinary one, and ordinarily would not be tolerated in any trial, outside of a trial like this, which is certainly an extraordinary and a phenomenal one. We are dealing here with a charge, which to the knowledge of this Tribunal has never been presented in the history of the human race of a man who is here charged with the responsibility for the snuffing out of lives by the hundreds of thousands — not hundreds of thousands, but ninety thousand. If he were not charged with anything so monstrous as that, it would not seem to me necessary for him to answer the question on a moral issue, but if he is presented with an order by Hitler to dispose of his own flesh and blood, whether he would regard that as a moral issue, or not, I believe that is a question that is entirely relevant and is not frivolous, and the witness will be called upon to answer it.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: May I please answer this question in the way it was put by the prosecutor, and the way it was originally put. I had not finished my statement why I considered this question frivolous, when the prosecutor interrupted me.

MR. HEATH: The Court has ruled that the question is not frivolous, and it calls for an answer. I urge the Court or respectfully request the Court to ask the witness to answer the question.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: The ruling disposes of this, and the witness will answer the question, so that you do not need to urge or demand.

MR. HEATH: I should have added your Honor, "or refuse to answer it, one way or the other."

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: I am disposed to believe that he will answer it. Let's see whether he will answer it, or not.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: I consider this question frivolous, because it brings a completely private matter into a military one; that is, it deals with two events which have nothing to do with each other.



MR. HEATH: Your Honor —

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Let's just keep in mind this situation. You are a defendant in a trial, and very serious charges have been brought against you. Your whole life and career are before this Court for scrutiny and examination. A question arises regarding an order which you received, and that order calls for the execution of defenseless people. You will admit that in normal times such a proposition would be incredible, and intolerable, but you claim that the circumstances were not normal, and, therefore, what might be accepted only with terrified judgment was accepted at that time as a normal discharge of duties. It is the contention of the prosecution, that regardless of the circumstances, the killing of defenseless people involved a moral issue, and that under all the circumstances you were to refrain from doing what was done. Now by way of illustration he advances, suppose that you had in the discharge of this duty been confronted with the necessity of deciding whether to kill, among hundreds of unknown people, one whom you knew very well. It seems to me that that is a relevant comparison. Now, let's direct our attention to that very question, if you will, please.

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: If this demand would have been made to me under the same prerequisites that is within the framework of an order, which is absolutely necessary militarily, then I would have executed that order.

MR. HEATH: That is all, sir.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Witness, I would like to ask one question. Were the men in your command entitled to any increase in pay because of the nature of the operation, or were they paid the regular salary which went to all soldiers?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: At no time was there any advantage connected with that operation. Not at any time.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Now you were travelling in a territory which must have been very strange to you, and you had indicated that you had interpreters, but you must have been confronted with many language difficulties, because of dialects, and so on. Do you suppose that because of these language barriers that any errors might have occurred, so that even individuals under the broadest interpretation of that order were killed who should not have been killed?

A. I don't think so. The interpreter whom I had, for instance, my own interpreter was from Russia himself, and he knew the language and the conditions.

Q. Very well. You stated yesterday the only reason why you did not wish your command was that of a fear your successor might


not be so considerate of your men as you were. In what way did you regard that considerate; in what respect?

A. Because I had experience from other Einsatzgruppen.

Q. Well, you were considerate of them, but the Tribunal does not understand in what respect. Was it with regard to accommodations, with regard to food, with regard to the manner in which they had discharged this unpleasant duty?

A. It was part of the complaints which I personally presented to Himmler in Nikolaev; that, for example, the Higher SS and Police Leader Jeckeln had organized special detachments which had to carry out nothing but executions, and it is understandable that this would ruin these people spiritually, or make them completely brutal. This is an example of what I meant.

Q. Very well. How much time did you spend, generally, in each community. I presume you were travelling all the time?

A. I personally, or with my staff?

Q. With your staff. With your unit, the Einsatzgruppe?

A. I changed my headquarters when the headquarters of the army moved. I always joined the headquarters command of the army.

Q. Now you said that you tried to avoid excesses. Just what do you mean by that?

A. That, for example, an individual would carry out an execution on his own.

Q. You mentioned this morning apropos something else, that there was a Christmas celebration in your organization. Did you have a Christmas celebration regularly every year?

A. Yes.

Q. Yesterday, you stated that you had attended three executions, and in each one of these executions the subjects were singing the International and that they were shouting their allegiance to Stalin, and you took from that their solidarity to the Bolshevist cause, and, as I understood your answer, you drew from that a justification for the order, namely, that these individuals had in effect declared their hostility to Germany, and, that, therefore, as a matter of security and self-defense, or as a war measure in itself, it was justifiable to dispose of them in the way they were disposed of?

A. No, your Honor, I did not mean it that way.

Q. I see.

A. I was asked whether I saw any signs that the Fuehrer Order really was based on objective facts, and I meant these facts as one example to show that in these cases the victims actually expressed this attitude. This was not a basis for my action, only an example of what I saw myself.


Q. Did you take from their singing and from their shouts at that moment, that this reflected an attitude on the part of all that race, which called for aggressive measures on the part of the Reich?

A. No. I was merely impressed by the fact that my three incidental visits always were attended by the same demonstrations on on the part of the victims. It was not a cause for me to act in any way. It was merely an illustration of the actual situation.

Q. Now just one more question on this incident. When you observed this demonstration, did you feel any sense of relief that here indeed were enemies of your country, and, therefore, the order which you were executing did have some justification in fact?

A. I have already expressed it a little more carefully yesterday, your Honor, because in any situation it is difficult to comment on this. I said that I watched this demonstration with respect, for I respected even this attitude, and I never hated an opponent, or an enemy, and I still do not do so today.

PRESIDING JUDGE MUSMANNO: Any further questions, Dr. Aschenauer?


DR. ASCHENAUER: Your Honor, I only have two more questions. They concern the document which was submitted by the prosecution. I believe it is Document NOKW-256, Prosecution Exhibit 174. There are two sentences "we received your directives from the Chief of the Security Police and the SD, and we are informed that we are under your command as far as restricting our mission on the part of the army is concerned." I want to ask one question. Did you ever have any responsibility of your own about these missions, including the executions, which went higher in responsibility than that of the Supreme Army Commander, as the executor of supreme command and which would have excluded the responsibility of the army commander in chief over life and death?

A. No. This activity was carried out under the responsibility of the Supreme Commander. He alone had the executive power of command, and therefore he disposed over life and death. This responsibility was never limited.

Q. Then do I understand you correctly if you say that your responsibility refers to the manner and type of the execution of the order?

A. Yes, that is right.

DR. ASCHENAUER: I have no further questions.

* * * * * * * * * *


Return to “Holocaust & 20th Century War Crimes”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users