NMT Einsatzgruppe testimony of Werner Braune

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NMT Einsatzgruppe testimony of Werner Braune

Post by David Thompson » 21 Sep 2004 20:19

Dr. jur. Werner Braune was the leader of Action Command 11b (Einsatzkommando 11b) on the eastern front between October 1941 and September 1942. He testified about his experiences to an American military tribunal at Neurnberg. Extracts from Dr. jur. Braune's testimony were reprinted in the Nuernberg Military Tribunal (NMT) proceedings, vol. 4, and are reproduced here, following this biographical sketch:

Braune, Dr. jur. Karl Rudolph Werner (11.4.1909-7.6.1951) [SS-Standartenfűhrer] -- b. Mehrstedt; NSDAP-Nr.: 581277 (joined 1 Jul 1931); SS-Nr.: 107364 (joined 18 Nov 1934); commander, Action Command 11b (Einsatzkommando 11b) Oct 1941-Sept 1942; service, German Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst – SD) Halle; service, Security Service (SD) Oslo {arrested and put on trial by an American military tribunal at Nuremberg on charges of ordering and participating in the mass execution of Russian Jews and POWs (the "Einsatzgruppe case"); convicted 10 Apr 1948 of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging (NYT 11 Apr 1948:9:1); clemency refused 31 Jan 1951 by US armed forces commander in Europe General Thomas T. Handy (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; Holo Ency 1792-1793; Field Men p. 46; Third Reich Historical Forum, "Landsberg Executions," http://www.thirdreichforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=23517).

The American military tribunal which sentenced Braune to death rendered this judgment:
"SS-Colonel Werner Braune received his law degree at the University of Jena in July 1932 and in 1933 was awarded the degree of Doctor of Juridical Science. He joined the SS in November 1934. In l940 he became chief of the Gestapo in Wesermuende. In October l941 he was assigned to Einsatzkommando 11b. As chief of this unit Braune knew of the Fuehrer-Order and executed it to the hilt. His defense is the general one of Superior Orders which avails Braune no more than it does anyone else who executes a criminal order with the zeal that Braune brought to the Fuehrer-Order.

Various reports implicate Braune and his kommando in the sordid business of illegal killings.

The Tribunal has already spoken of the Christmas massacre of Simferopol. Braune was the kommando leader in charge of this operation. He has admitted responsibility for this murder in unequivocal language:
"It took place under my responsibility. Once I was at the place of execution with Mr. Ohlendorf and there we convinced ourselves that the execution took place according to the directives laid down by Ohlendorf at the beginning of the assignment. I personally was there several times more and I supervised.... Furthermore, my sub-kommando leader Sturmbannfuehrer Schulz was always present, the company commander of the police company, and, I think, another Captain."
The Fuehrer-Order did not offer reasons or ask for explanations. Like a guillotine blade in its descent it did not stop to inquire into cause and premise. Nonetheless, the question was put to Braune as to why the Army, which apparently had immediately ordered this execution, was so anxious that the slaughter be accomplished before Christmas. Braune enlightened the Tribunal and simultaneously horrified humanity for all time as follows:
"The Fuehrer-Order was there, and now the Army said 'We want it finished before Christmas'. I wasn't able at the time to find out all the reasons. Maybe the reasons were strategic reasons, military reasons, which caused the Army to issue that order. Maybe they were territorial questions. Maybe they were questions of food. The Army, at that time, was afraid that hundreds of thousands of people might have to starve to death during that winter because of the food situation. ...."
There were also executions after Christmas. Einsatz-Order, dated January 12, 1942, speaks of an operation destined -- ".....to apprehend unreliable elements (partisans, saboteurs, possibly enemy troops, parachutists in civilian clothes, Jews, leading Communists, etc.)." Braune admitted that he took an active part in this operation. He was asked what happened to the Jews who fell into the dragnet which he had spread, and Braune replied:
"lf there were any Jews, Mr. Prosecutor, they were shot, just as the other Jews."
The question was then put if the Jews were given a trial, and the defendant replied:
"Mr. Prosecutor, I believe that it has been made adequately clear here that under the order which has been issued there was no scope to hold trials of Jews."
Document NOKW-584, describing the executions mentioned in that document carried this significant item:
"SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Braune gave orders on the place of execution for the carrying out of the shooting."
Although Braune denies that he actually gave the order to fire he does admit that he marched with the condemned men to the place of execution.

Speaking of the Ewapatoria action the defendant explained that he was convinced that "the whole lot of them had engaged in illegal activities", but he admitted that there was the possibility, theoretically, as he described, that among these 1,184 executees --
There were some people who had not participated in murdering the German soldiers or who had not participated in sniping activities."
The Tribunal finds from all the evidence in the case that the defendant is guilty under Counts I and II of the Indictment.

The Tribunal also finds that the defendant was a member of the criminal organizations SS, SD and Gestapo 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, pp. 176-178 (original mimeographed copy), http://www.einsatzgruppenarchives.com/t ... raune.html ).}
Here are the extracts of Dr. jur. Braune's testimony, taken 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'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1950. pp. 323-328:
[Complete testimony is recorded in mimeographed transcript, 11/25-26/1947 and 12/1-2/1947, pp. 3004-3054; 3060-3223.]

Dr. Mayer (Counsel for defendant Braune): When were the Jews, gypsies, and Krimchaks executed in Simferopol, with which you are charged?

Defendant Braune: In the first half of 12/1941.

Q. How did these executions come about?

A. On one of the first days of 12/1941 in the evening, the liaison officer of the 11th Army came to see Mr. Ohlendorf and told him that the army demanded the carrying out of the executions before Christmas.

Q. Were you present yourself when the liaison officer of the 11th Army told this to Mr. Ohlendorf?

A. Yes. I was personally a witness and a few more officers were present too.

Q. How did you conduct yourself in the face of this army order?

A. I immediately told Mr. Ohlendorf that for my weak forces it would be impossible to carry out these executions before Christmas.

Q. Witness, at this point, please tell the Tribunal about the strength of your unit.

A. When I left Odessa my Kommando had a strength of about 100 men, but all told, including drivers, interpreters, auxiliary forces, etc. In Simferopol, outside of an administrative officer and two aides on my staff I had no other people, except an officer who took care of the SD reports temporarily for 2 months and at times I had a noncommissioned officer who helped me in the handling of partisan questions which had become so extensive that I could not handle them myself. Everything else was assigned to the Teilkommandos, that is, the Teilkommando Simferopol, including the guard personnel and drivers who were necessary. Certainly it was not more than 25 to 30 men strong and the other Teilkommandos also were about the same strength. Yevpatoriya was a little stronger than Karasubazar and Alushta. I know that in the Teilkommando in Simferopol there were about three or four trained police and interrogation officials. With these forces it was practically impossible for me to carry out the required executions in Simferopol.

Q. What did Mr. Ohlendorf do when you told him that your forces were too weak to carry out the execution which was demanded by the army?

A. Mr. Ohlendorf recognized my objections as justified and with his agreement I went to see the G-2 of the army, Colonel Hanck, and described the situation to him.

Q. What was the result?

A. The result was that he managed to put at our disposal a large number of trucks with drivers, to furnish the gasoline, and a certain number, I don't remember how many, of field police, all of whom were placed at the disposal to help in this execution.

Q. Another question, Witness. Isn't it a mistake on your part when you say that Colonel Hanck was the G-2 of the army?

A. I beg your pardon. I made a mistake. Colonel Hanck was the Chief Quartermaster of the army.

Q. Therefore, he was the IIa?

A. No. In the German army his name was OQu [Oberquartiermeister], Chief Quartermaster. Whether he was the IIa, I do not know.

Q. Did you tell your superior, Mr. Ohlendorf, about the result of your conference with the G-2?

A. Yes. I reported about the conference.

Q. As for the forces furnished by the army as a result of this conference, did they also take part in the executions?

A. I cannot say specifically.

Q. Who then carried out the executions?

A. My Teilkommando chief, Sturmbannfuehrer [Major] Schulz, was responsible for carrying out the details. He had at his disposal the people furnished by the army, the newly arrived police company who was to relieve the company so far in operation and who had not yet been distributed among the Teilkommandos. Furthermore, I think I recall that Kommando 11a or 10b, or even both, furnished forces by order of Ohlendorf. Finally there were the forces of the Teilkommando and my guard personnel.

Q. Who carried out the execution itself?

A. The execution Kommandos were, as far as I recall, furnished mostly by the police company, but here I cannot give any specific details as to who was used for the transport, who was used to block off the area, and who was used to do the shooting. I believe that people rotated.

Q. Witness, did you supervise the execution?

A. Yes, I did. It took place under my responsibility. Once I was at the place of execution with Mr. Ohlendorf and there we convinced ourselves that the execution took place according to the directives laid down by Ohlendorf at the beginning of the assignment. I personally was there
several times more, and I supervised. As I heard, the adjutant of Ohlendorf was there once, and saw that everything was carried out according to the instructions. Furthermore, my Teilkommando chief, Sturmbannfuehrer [Major] Schulz, was always present, the company commander of the police company, and, I think, another captain.

Presiding Judge Musmanno: Who was the adjutant, please?

Defendant Braune: That is the co-defendant Schubert, your Honor.

Dr. Mayer: Witness, did your supervision extend to blocking off the area and the transporting of the victims?

Defendant Braune: I think I have already said that I supervised the entire process, that is the blocking off and the transport too.

Q. In these executions were Krimchaks shot also?

A. Yes. On this occasion the Krimchaks living in Simferopol were also shot.

Mr. Walton: Dr. Braune, it is true, is it not, that you joined the SD voluntarily?

Defendant Braune: Yes. I joined the SD voluntarily.

Q. And that was in 1934, was it not?

A. It was exactly on 11/18/1934.

Q. Is it not further true that as a result of this voluntary entry into the SD you became a member of the SS?

A. I already said this in my direct examination. By joining the SD I became a member of the SS special formation called SD.

Q. Now as an old National Socialist and an SA-man you, of course, knew that when you entered the SD you, as a matter of course, became at the same time a member of the SS, did you not?

A. Yes, I can only repeat what I said before: I became part of the special formation of the SS which was called SD.

Q. You knew that would happen before you even went into the SD, didn't you?

A. Of course I knew that.

Q. Now, the defendant Biberstein testified here that the SS was known in 1936 as the most ideal and most unselfish representative of National Socialism and was highly regarded by the population. May we assume that you also were of this opinion?

A. Yes. I had the same opinion, Mr. Prosecutor.

Q. Have you, between 1934 and 1945, changed your opinion about the SS?

A. I can only talk about the field where I was active myself, and from my own knowledge. I have no reason to change this opinion basically at all. I believe that in the last years before the end of the war many people would have liked to join the SS and become SS leaders who don't want to have anything to do with it now.

Mr. Walton: Doctor, let us pass to some of your specific activities. In your statement, Document No-4234, Prosecution Exhibit 163, in paragraph 3 thereof, you relate one instance of the execution of a number of Jews. Who rounded up these Jews?

Defendant Braune: Under direct examination I said that prior to my term of office, identification and registration were carried out, that is to say, before I assumed office, and it was the commander of 10a that dealt with it; when orders had been received from the army for the commander to concentrate the Jews, they were rounded up.

Q. Did I understand you to say that the commander of 10a--what is this designation? Will you go a little further into details?

A. Under direct examination I said that at Simferopol a Teilkommando, which was part of Kommando 10a, a few days after arrival was subordinated to me. The way I remember it is that originally it was Kommando 10a.

Q. Thank you. The translation came over in better shape that time. Well, approximately how many Jews were there in this number which were executed?

A. I have already said here that I cannot give you a definite figure. As far as I remember, I gave you the exact number of Jews present in peacetime in Simferopol. I also told you that at least half of them had escaped, but I cannot give you the exact figures.

Q. Can you give me an approximate figure?

A. No. I cannot do that either, unless I can just work it out this way. There were approximately 10000 before, half of whom had escaped and from that I can deduce that in all circumstances there must have been fewer than 4000 to 5000, but I cannot give you an exact figure.

Q. Then there were more than 1000 executed during this one instance, is that what I am to gather?

A. I think I am certain that there were more than 1000.

Q. Were women and children included in this number in this incident?

A. Yes, but I have to add that on account of the rumors and on account of people escaping I think there were only a very few children. Anyway, I myself never saw children being shot, but there were women among them for certain.

Q. Do you remember approximately how large the execution squad was that performed this execution?

A. They were detachments, I believe, of 10 men. In each case there was a military commander. The exact number of these squads I cannot give you.

Q. Were they composed of regular police or state police, army, and Gestapo?

A. I have already told you that the majority of them were companies from the regular police, but I cannot give you any details as to their composition, all the more so because I believe that I remember that they were being relieved at the time.

Q. Am I to assume that these executions were ordered by the army?

A. Mr. Prosecutor, it happened the way I described it to you.

The liaison officer came and told Mr. Ohlendorf the army demanded the execution to be carried out before Christmas. Naturally, above all, there was the Fuehrer Order, unchanged and valid as before.

Q. Well, why didn't you include this fact, since it was so important, in your affidavit, or, I am sorry, in your statement?

A. Mr. Prosecutor, I believe I can remember perfectly well that I told Mr. Wartenberg at the time that the things which he had put into the affidavit only constituted a small fraction, but I believe, I am certain I told him that it was the army which gave that order. In fact, I believe that I can remember just now that that is contained in my statement. Perhaps I can just have a look. Yes, I have found it. May I quote--

"The 11th Army had ordered that the execution at Simferopol was to be finished before Christmas."

That is in my own statement which I deposed at the time. It is on page 2, Mr. Prosecutor, and it is the last paragraph.

Q. By that you meant that the army ordered all executions of Jews in Simferopol to be finished by Christmas, is that correct? Was it this one that you specifically state, or all others?

A. Mr. Prosecutor, the Fuehrer Order was there and now the army said "We want it finished before Christmas." I wasn't able at the time to find out all the reasons. Maybe the reasons were strategic reasons, military reasons, which caused the army to issue that order. Maybe they were territorial questions. Maybe they were questions of food. The army at that time was afraid that hundreds of thousands of people might have to starve to death during that winter, because of the food situation, but all those are suppositions on my part and I cannot tell you what was the ultimate reason for that order given by the army.

Q. Are you trying to tell us now that the execution of all undesirables was ordered because there might not be enough food for them?

A. No, Mr. Prosecutor, all I wanted to say was that might have been the reason for the army to issue that order at that particular time. The overall principles of the matter were not affected by that.

Q. Were there any executions carried out in Simferopol after Christmas 1941?

A. Certainly, executions were carried out after Christmas, 1941, Mr. Prosecutor.

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Post by bsdwork » 22 Nov 2007 20:21

Thanks for the extracts !

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Post by David Thompson » 23 Nov 2007 21:40

A commercial site link in bsdwork's post was removed by the moderator as a violation of the forum's spamming rules -- DT.

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