The murder of General Mesny

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The murder of General Mesny

Post by David Thompson » 27 Dec 2004 07:20

Major General Gustave-Marie-Maurice Mesny (1886-1945) was the commander of the French 5th North African Division in 1940, when he was taken prisoner by the German armed forces. (Steen Ammentorp, Generals of WWII: France; ... rance.html ) He continued to be held as a POW until 19 January 1945, when he was shot and killed by a couple of SD officers while being transported by car to another POW camp near Koenigstein. At the time, the Germans claimed that the killing happened during an escape attempt.

After the war a collection of witness statements, as well as German correspondence and orders, told a different story. They indicated that Hitler had become enraged over the killing of Generalleutnant Fritz von Brodowski by French troops near Besancon in late Oct or early Nov 1944 "while attempting to escape," and in mid-Nov 1944 ordered the execution of a French General as a secret reprisal/revenge. Mesny was the chosen victim, and after much wrangling, he was subsequently killed.

Much of the documentary evidence on this matter is collected at Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 13: United States of America v. Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al. (Case 11: 'Ministries Case'), US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1952. pp. 32-49.

Here it is:

Document NO-076, Teletype from Himmler to numerous government and party offices, dated 28 September 1944, concerning transfer of custody of prisoners of war to the commander of Replacement Army, transfer by Himmler of affairs concerning prisoners of war to Defendant Berger, and related matters, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 13: United States of America v. Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al. (Case 11: 'Ministries Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1952. pp. 32-34.
Translation of Document NO-076, Prosecution Exhibit 1241.

Reich Security Main Office, Teletype Office.
Received: Time, Day, Month, Year, [by...through...]
FS.--No. 190331
Space for Receiver, Stamp, Telegram--Radiogram--Teletype--Telephone.
Forwarded: Time, Day, Month, Year, [to...through].
[All entries in the above table illegible]

KR SHDS NO 998 28/9 1400,
Top Secret.
To SRFS TM 12:
To SS Lieutenant General Pohl
To Race and Settlement Main Office
To SS Economic and Administrative Main Office
To Personal Staff--RF SS Berlin
To SS--Personnel Main Office
To SS General Heissmeyer Bureau
To Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germanism--Staff Headquarters
To Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germanism--Main office for Repatriation of Ethnic Germans
To Reich Physician SS--and Police
To Chief of Communications
To Institute of Statistics and Research of Reichleader SS
To Mechanical Control Institute for the Maximum Utilization of Manpower [Maschinelles Zentralinstitut fuer die Optimale Menschen Erfassung und Auswertung].

1. The Fuehrer has, under 25 September 1944, ordered as follows:

"The custody of all prisoners of war and internees as well as the prisoner-of-war camps and installations with guard units are turned over to the commander of the Replacement Army* as of 1 October 1944. For all questions in connection with the carrying out of the treaty of 1929, [Reference is made to the Geneva Prisoners-of-War Convention of 1929.] as well as for all the matters of the protective power and the societies for aid and all affairs concerning the German prisoners of war in enemy hands, the competence rests as before with the High Command of the Armed Forces. The details of the transfer and of the limitation of the mutual tasks are regulated by the Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces in direct agreement with the commander of the Replacement Army and the component parts of the armed forces."

2. In my capacity as commander of the Replacement Army, I transfer all affairs concerning prisoners of war to the SS Lieutenant General and General of the Waffen SS, Chief of Staff of the Volkssturm, [People's Militia assembled during the latter stages of the war, resembling
somewhat the wartime State Guard in the United States.], Gottlob Berger. [Other contemporaneous documents concerning positions held and functions performed by defendant Berger are reproduced below in section IX.]

3. The generals in charge of prisoners of war in the separate military districts are subject to orders from the Higher SS Leaders from 1 October 1944 onward.

4. The question (subj. 3.) will be discussed by SS Lieutenant General Berger with the deputy commander of the Replacement Army, SS Lieutenant General Juettner, the question of the labor allocation of the prisoners of war with the SS Lieutenant General Pohl, the reinforcement of the security of the camps with the Chief of Security Police, SS Lieutenant General Dr. Kaltenbrunner.

5. Details of the transfer will be discussed by SS Lieutenant General Berger with Lieutenant General (Infantry) Reinecke.

6. All camps and labor detachments have to be at once examined with regard to security and prevention of any subversive attempts, and all appropriate measures have to be taken. In this connection I order at once that all the food tins being received in parcels by the prisoners of war have to be cut open on their arrival, as they very often contain messages or tools, and have to be handed out to the prisoner of war cut open and cut through in the middle. In cases of food tins saved by the prisoners of war this measure has to be carried out additionally.

Heil Hitler!
Signed: H. Himmler.

* Himmler at this time was commander of the Replacement Army
Last edited by David Thompson on 27 Dec 2004 07:49, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by David Thompson » 27 Dec 2004 07:23

Document NG-037, extracts of 13 documents from files of the German Foreign Office, 16 November 1944 to 18 January 1945, concerning the Mesny Matter, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 13: United States of America v. Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al. (Case 11: 'Ministries Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1952. pp. 34-46.

Partial Translation of Document NG-037, Prosecution Exhibit 1249.

Memorandum from Defendant Ritter to Horst Wagner, 16 November 1944, transmitting von Ribbentrop's instructions on the Brodowski matter.

Top Secret, Ambassador Ritter, No. 999.

To Senior Legation Counsellor Wagner[1]

To avoid uncertainty, I once more wish to state in writing that the Reich Foreign Minister instructed me on Saturday, 11 November 1944, to pass on to you the charge of insuring that nothing should happen in the Br. [Brodowski] matter[2] before the Reich Leader SS or the SD has agreed with you about the modalities and possible later manner of reporting.[3] I was able to pass on this instruction to you on Sunday, 12 November 730 hours.

The instructions are therefore addressed to you and not to me. I have merely been instructed by the Reich Foreign Minister to pass the instructions on to you. The Reich Foreign Minister also told me to see that the instructions be duly carried out.

Berlin, 16 November
[Signed] Ritter.

[Handwritten] Kaltenbrunner, Thadden beginning 17 November
[1] Horst Wagner was the chief of Department Inland II of the Foreign Office. He testified that "Inland II was a technical liaison department to maintain liaison between the Foreign Office and the agencies of the Reich Leader SS, with the Reich Minister of the Interior, and similar agencies." See the extracts from Wagner's testimony reproduced later in this section.
[2] Reference is to Major General Friedrich von Brodowski, a German military commander in France, who was killed by French resistance force in November 1944. To avenge his death, Hitler ordered the reprisal killing of a French general of equivalent rank.
[3] Concerning von Ribbentrop's connection to the killing of General Mesny, the IMT stated in its judgment: "In December 1944 von Ribbentrop was informed of the Plan to murder one of the French generals held as a prisoner of war and directed his subordinates to see that the details were worked out in such a way as to prevent it detection by the protecting powers." General Mesny was shot on 19 January 1945.
Undated and unsigned file note of von Thadden, Official of Department Inland II, concerning developments in the Brodowski matter on 13-14 November 1944.

Legation Counsellor First Class von Thadden, Inland II:

With reference to the affair of Major General von Podowski [Brodowski] Senior Legation Counsellor Wagner instructed me on the morning of 13 November range for a meeting on that very day between him, Ambassador Ritter, and SS Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner.

Kaltenbrunner's adjutant's offices gave the telephone information that a meeting on that date was out of the question, in fact not possible before Tuesday, 1600 hours.

Ambassador Ritter declared that Mr. Wagner would have to decide personally whether or not this date would still be acceptable. On the afternoon of 13 November or Legation Counsellor Wagner pronounced the date to be acceptable since he had already informed Kaltenbrunner of our request.

On 14 November in the morning, I checked the hour of the meeting, 1600 hours, with Kaltenbrunner's adjutant's office. I was thereupon told that it would have to be 1630 hours but that they believed the conference was now superfluous since the Fuehrer's order concerning reprisals had in the meantime been annulled.

I immediately informed Ambassador Ritter who declared:

a. that the Fuehrer's decree could not possibly have been repealed, since General Jodl had stated this to him on the telephone only last night at 12 o'clock.

b. he, being senior in rank, did not mean to go to Kaltenbrunner. In the interest of the Foreign Office, Kaltenbrunner should come to him.

I informed Kaltenbrunner's adjutant's office without delay that the communication concerning the repeal of the Fuehrer's decree could not be correct. Having made inquiries, SS Major Malz stated that the Fuehrer's order had not been submitted to Kaltenbrunner but to the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs, SS Lieutenant General Berger. SS Lieutenant General Berger was ill and his personal adviser, SS Colonel Klump, in answer to my telephone inquiry replied that only Colonel Meurer [1] knew about the order. He would see to it that the latter rang me up at once.

After waiting in vain for the call, I myself rang up Colonel Meurer, who told me that the order, strangely enough, had not been sent to the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs [defendant Berger] but to SS Lieutenant General Juettner. [SS Lieutenant General Hans Juettner, General of the Waffen SS, was permanent deputy to Himmler in Himmler's capacity as commander of the Replacement Army.] The latter had asked the Chief of Prisoners-of-War Affairs to hold in readiness, for eventual measures of reprisals, a French general whose name he mentioned. Subsequently SS Lieutenant General Juettner had yesterday informed his office that the anticipated conference in this matter had now become superfluous, the Fuehrer having repealed his order. So far he had not heard of a new order. He therefore considered the incident closed.

On 14 November 1610 hours, I passed on this information to Ambassador Ritter who asked to be connected by telephone with SS Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner. This request was directed to the SS Lieutenant General's adjutant's office, which immediately agreed to comply with it.

[1] Fritz Meurer was chief of staff to defendant Berger. Extracts from Meurer's testimony are reproduced below in this section.
File note of Wagner, 18 November 1944, submitted to von Ribbentrop through Defendants Ritter and Steengracht von Moyland, concerning developments in the Brodowski matter, noting that 'the approximate date was provisionally set for 27-30 November 1944', and transmitting enclosure.

Group Inland II, [Illegible Initials crossed out], Notes for Verbal Report:

I. Immediately upon receipt of the Reich Foreign Minister's directive in the case Brodowski, I contacted SS Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner and asked him to do nothing without the approval of the Foreign Office. SS Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner, on 12 November 1944 still unaware of a pertinent Fuehrer order, agreed.

II. It was found that, in transmitting the order, a number of points had been confused, which made it only today possible to establish who had actually been assigned to execute the order.

1. Field Marshal Keitel gave instructions to SS Lieutenant General Juettner without General Jodl's knowledge.

2. The adjutant of the Chief of the Wehrmacht Operations Staff issued a directive without General Jodl's knowledge.

3. SS Major General Fegelein's deputy had promised Ambassador Hewel and General Jodl to send a telegram. For reasons unknown it was never sent.

Inland II spent 3 days in inquiries to find out from Juettner, Kaltenbrunner and Berger who was assigned for this task.

On 17 November 1944, SS Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner notified me that he had just received the order, and requested me to come for a discussion, having also been instructed to contact the Foreign Office before taking action.

III. SS Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner informed me this morning that he had to leave immediately, and requested me to discuss the matter with SS Senior Colonel Panzinger [1] [the following words are crossed out in the original: "in the presence of SS Major General Mueller"] as he was the one who had been assigned for the task. The discussion took place today.

IV. In pursuance of this conference, at which modalities, press announcements, and possible later investigation by the protecting power were discussed, SS Senior Colonel Panzinger will submit to us the proposal of the SD for comment. Reich Leader SS has ordered that no decision be made without the approval of the Foreign Office. To allow for technical preparations, the approximate date was provisionally set for 27-30 November 1944. Rough outlines of the project are attached hereto [handwritten:] The final SD proposal will follow without delay.

Berlin, 18 November 1944
[Signed] Wagner.

Through Ambassador Ritter and the State Secretary,
[Initial] R [Ritter]
18 November 1944
[Initials] ST [Steengracht]
18 November 1944.

Submitted to the Reich Foreign Minister, [Stamp]. Has been submitted to Reich Foreign Minister. [Handwritten] The Reich Foreign Minister has personally read these notes. 11/19/1944. [Initial] SCH [Schmidt].

a. Modalities: 75 French generals are interned in Koenigstein camp. As can be seen from the dossiers, it has for a long time been intended to transfer these French generals, as Koenigstein is required for other purposes. So far this plan has not been carried out.

This transfer will now commence by a first batch of 5 or 6 French generals, each in a separate automobile, being taken to another destination. There will be a driver and a German one-man escort in each automobile. The cars will display Wehrmacht insignia. The two Germans in each car will wear Wehrmacht uniform. They will all be handpicked persons. During the trip, General de Boisse's car will have a breakdown, in order to separate it from the others. This will provide an opportunity of having the general killed by a shot aimed at his back, "while attempting to escape." The time proposed is dawn or dusk.

There must be no local inhabitants in the vicinity. To play safe, in case there is an investigation, it is planned to burn the body and to take the urn to the cemetery of Koenigstein fortress. It would have to be decided whether or not the urn should be interred with military honors. A proper medical report, death certificate, and certificate of cremation must be obtained. A sketch of the scene of the incident and a detailed report will be prepared. There are no great objections against dispensing with cremation, but the question will be once more looked into in an internal SD discussion.

b. Press announcements: It will always seem suspicious that the fact of a French officer's attempted escape is given any press publicity at all. On the other hand, this step assures that the news of this measure, which is meant to be a reprisal also reaches the public. The text of the press announcement will be prepared after the question of modalities has been decided. Moreover, another check will be taken of the French general's traits of character. But otherwise the text of the communique will follow closely that of the Reuter message.

c. Investigation by the protecting power: The choice of participants and the preparation of all documentary evidence will assure that in the event of an investigation being demanded by the protecting power, such documents as are needed to bring about a dismissal of the case can be produced.

Berlin, November 1944
[Initial] W [Wagner].

[1] SS Oberfuehrer (Senior Colonel) Friedrich Panzinger at this time was Chief of Office V (Reich Criminal Police) in the Reich Security Main Office.
Note by Legation Counsellor Bobrick to Wagner, 20 November 1944, concerning a report from Dr. Wehrhahn of the Legal Division of the Foreign Office on the properties surrounding the burial of a General.

Inland II B Legation Counsellor Dr. Bobrik
[Handwritten] please discuss.

Dr. Wehrhahn (of Legal Division) informs me that, as a prisoner of war, a general is buried with military honors regardless of whether he is a French, British, or American prisoner of war. The fact that we have an armistice with France does not alter this. As an attempt to escape is not dishonorable, it would make no difference if the general were shot while attempting to escape. This has no bearing on the question of admitting a priest. Prisoners of war are on principle entitled to the free practice of their religion.

SS Senior Colonel Panzinger was informed by telephone.

Submitted to Group Leader Inland II.

[Initial] W [Wagner]

[Handwritten] to be filed, 30 November 1944.

20 November 1944,
[Signed] Bobrik.

Note from Bobrik to Wagner, 28 November 1944, submitted to Defendant Ritter on 1 December 1944, concerning developments in the preparations.

Inland II B, [Handwritten] please discuss. Legation Counsellor Dr. Bobrik:

1. SS Senior Colonel Panzinger reports that various changes have been made in the preparations for the matter discussed but that he has, nevertheless, spoken with Colonel Meurer once more in order to clarify the position definitively. He has promised us a plan for the elaboration of the project by the middle or end of this week.

Submitted to Group Leader Inland II,

[Initial] W [Wagner], 28 November 1944.
28 November 1944.

2. Submitted to Ambassador Ritter for information: 1 December 1944.
[Initial] R [Ritter]
1 December 1944

[Initial] B [Bobrik]
28 November 1944.

Note from Bobrik to Wagner, 6 December 1944, submitted to Defendant Ritter on 7 December 1944, concerning further developments in the matter of the 'Special Affair'.

Inland II B
[Handwritten] Concern Special Affair.
Official in charge: Legation Counsellor Dr. Bobrik:

SS Senior Colonel Panzinger reports that in the presence of those concerned with the matter, he had another detailed conference with Colonel Meurer the day before yesterday concerning renewed modifications chiefly in connection with the car question. He hopes to draft his final report before the end of the week.

He has informed the Reich Leader SS by way of his adjutant's office of the need for another modification of the plans.

Herewith submitted to Group Leader Inland II.

[Initial] W [Wagner]
6 December 1944.

[Signed] Bobrik.

Submitted to:
1. Ambassador Ritter, for information. [7 December 1944, [Initial] R [Ritter];
2. Herr Bobrik for further action. [Initial] B [Bobrik]

[Initial] W [Wagner] 7 December 1944.

Report of 13 December 1944, signed by von Thadden for submission to von Ribbentrop through Defendants Ritter and von Steengracht, concerning two alternate plans for killing the French General.

Group Inland II, Subject: French general. Personal. Strictly confidential.

[Handwritten marginal note] Through Lieutenant Colonel Senior Government Counsellor Dr. Schulze, 855456.

SS Senior Colonel Panzinger stated for our information that the preparations in respect to the French general had reached the stage where a report concerning the proposed procedure would be submitted to the Reich Leader SS within the next few days.

The French general will be transferred, together with four other younger generals, from the Fortress Koenigstein to a new PW camp. The transfer will be carried out in three automobiles, two of the younger ranking generals entering each of the first two cars, while the senior ranking general in question will ride alone in the last car in order to give him the special attention due to his rank. The cars will be driven by SS personnel in Wehrmacht uniform. The automobiles will bear Wehrmacht insignia.

The order will be carried out during the drive, by either of the following methods:

1. By shooting during escape: on the way, the car will stop at a suitable spot while the other two cars will continue their journey. The general will be killed while trying to escape, "by well-aimed bullets from behind." Examination of the body, also an eventual later post-mortem, will confirm that the general was fatally hit while attempting to escape.

2. Through poisoning by carbon monoxide gas: A specially built car which has already been constructed, is required for this purpose. The general will sit alone in the back seat. The doors will be locked in order to prevent him from jumping out during the drive. The windows, on account of the cold winter weather, will be closed. The window between the back and the front seat, where the driver and the attendant will sit, will be closed. Possible air holes will be specially sealed. Odorless carbon-monoxide gas will be introduced during the drive into the inner compartment through a special apparatus to be controlled from the front seat. A few breaths will suffice to ensure death. The gas being odorless, there is no reason for the general to become suspicious at the decisive moment and break the windows in order to let in fresh air. Cause of death will be recognizable beyond question by the color of the skin as a typical characteristic. It will be established that, through leakages from the exhaust pipe, gases from the engine entered the interior of the car, thus imperceptibly leading to his death.

After the report to the Reich Leader SS has been dispatched, a carbon copy of it is to be placed. at the disposal of the Foreign Office herewith by way of Ambassador Ritter to the State Secretary for presentation to the Reich Foreign Minister.

13 December 1944.
Signed: [crossed out] Wagner
[Signed] von Thadden.
[Illegible handwriting]
[Initial] B [Bobrik] 13 December 1944.

Note from Bobrik to von Ribbentrop's Office, 18 December 1944, concerning developments on the subject 'French General' and noting that the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs had signed a r5eport to be submitted to Himmler.

Inland II B
Subject: French general
Strictly confidential.

The Fuehrer order explicitly allows for various methods of execution, as has just been confirmed to me by the official in charge, Senior Government Counsellor Dr. Schulze. The only thing that has been fixed, is the subsequent press announcement.

The report to be submitted to the Reich Leader SS has been signed by the chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs and is at present before SS Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner for his cosignature. It will then go to the Reich Leader SS. Inland II will receive a copy for the information of the Reich Foreign Minister.

The assurance is given that the Reich Leader's decision will not be carried out before the Reich Foreign Minister has been consulted.

Through Group Leader Inland II submitted to Legation Counsellor Brenner of the Office of the Reich Foreign Minister.

18 December 1944
Signed: Bobrik.
[Initial] B [Bobrik].

[Handwritten] To be filed, 18 December 1944.

Letter from Kaltenbrunner to Himmler, 30 December 1944, concerning discussions of Kaltenbrunner, Defendant Berger, and the Foreign Office concerning proposals for killing a French General.

Berlin SW 11
Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8
Telephone 12 00 40.
30 December 1944

The Chief of Security Police and SD
VCB NO. 831/44 top secret:

Please quote above reference in your reply.
[Stamp] Express letter--Secret Reich Matter.

To Reich Leader SS, Field Headquarters.

Referring to PS Field HQ Staff Gmund NO. 460 and PS intermediate report of 4 December 1944.

Reich Leader!

The discussions about the matter in question with the Chief of Prisoner-of-war Affairs and the Foreign Office have taken place ordered and have led to the following proposals:

1. In the course of a transfer of five persons in three cars with army identification, the escape incident will occur when the last car has a flat tire, or --

2. Carbon monoxide is released by the driver into the closed interior of the car. The apparatus can be installed by the simplest means and can be removed again immediately. After considerable difficulties a suitable vehicle has now become available.

3. Other possibilities, such as poisoning by food or drink have been considered but have been discarded again as too unsafe.

Provisions have been made for proper attention to subsequent routine matters, such as report, abduction, death certificate, and burial.

Convoy leader and drivers are to be supplied by the Reich Security Main Office and will appear in army uniform and with pay books delivered to them.

Concerning the notice for the press, contact has been established with Privy Councillor Wagner of the Foreign Office. Wagner reports that the Reich Foreign Minister would like to discuss the matter with the Reich Leader.

In the opinion of the Reich Foreign Minister, this action must be coordinated in every respect.

In the meantime, it has been learned that the name of the man in question has been mentioned in the course of various long distance calls between Fuehrer headquarters and the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs, therefore the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs now proposes the use of another man with the same qualifications. I agree with this and propose that the choice be left to the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs.

Expecting your instructions,

Heil Hitler!
Your obedient servant,
Signed: Dr. Kaltenbrunner.
Note by Wagner, 4 January 1945, submitted to von Ribbentrop through Defendant Ritter, transmitting a copy of Kaltenbrunner's letter of 30 December 1944 to Himmler.

Subject: French general, Personal, Strictly confidential.

SS Senior Colonel Panzinger has submitted attached copy of SS Lieutenant General Dr. Kaltenbrunner's report for the Reich Leader SS, dated 30 December 1944, [Kaltenbrunner's letter is reproduced immediately above.] with the request to submit it to the Reich Foreign Minister.

Assurance has again been given that the Reich Foreign Minister will be informed of the reply of the Reich Leader SS prior to execution of the plan.


Herewith (channeled through Ambassador Ritter for his information upon [his] return) [Crossed out] to State Secretary, [Handwritten] to Minister Schmidt personally for submission to the Reich Foreign Minister. Has been submitted to the Reich Foreign Minister.

[Initial] SCH [Schmidt]
Berlin, 4 January 1945
[Initial] B [Bobrik].

Note from Schmidt of von Ribbentrop's Office to Wagner, 6 January 1945, concerning von
Ribbentrop's views on further handling of the matter after considerations of Kaltenbrunner's letter of 30 December 1944.

Office of the Reich Foreign Minister, Personal, strictly confidential!

In confirmation of the verbal notification, the Reich Foreign Minister asks to discuss the subject matter of the express letter of the Chief of Security Police and Security Service, dated 30 December 1944--VGB No. 831/44 top secret--with Minister Albrecht so as to find out precisely what rights the protecting power would have in this matter, and to be able to adjust the plan accordingly.

The Reich Foreign Minister thinks that the announcement of the incident to be published in the press should as far as possible be phrased in the same way as the notice of the occurrence which provoked the above mentioned plan, so that the responsible-persons on the other side may thereby clearly recognize the answer to their own move.

Herewith submitted to Senior Legation Counsellor Wagner,
[Initial] W [Wagner].

6 January 1945
[Signed] Schmidt.

Note by Bobrik to Legation Counsellor Krieger, 12 January 1945, concerning the legal rights of the Protecting Power in connection with the plan to kill a French General.

Personal, Strictly confidential.
Legation Counsellor Dr. Krieger--Legal Division, Section XV.
Hildebrandstr 5.

With reference to telephone conversation:

French prisoner-of-war general is going to die an unnatural death by being shot while escaping or by poisoning. Provisions have been made for proper attention to subsequent routine matters, such as report, post-mortem examination, death certificate, and burial.

The Reich Foreign Minister's instruction states that "the matter is to be discussed with Minister Albrecht in order to determine exactly what legal rights the protecting power could claim in this matter, and to coordinate the plan accordingly."

I should be grateful therefore, if after discussing the matter with Minister Albrecht, you would draw up the desired information to be submitted to the Reich Foreign Minister.

In my opinion allowance would, among other things, have to be made for possible legal rights of General Bridoux's Commission, [1], for those of the International Red Cross and other authorities; as for example, that of exhumation, post mortem examination by a court pathologist, etc., also a notice to the Armed Forces Information Office, a report to Bridoux, filling up of questionaires for the International Red Cross Committee in connection with the forwarding of possible personal effects and the like.

12 January 1945
[Signed] Bobrik.

[1] Reference is to the French Armistice Commission in Wiesbaden.
Answer of Krieger, 18 January 1945, to Bobrik's Note of 12 January 1945.

Memorandum: Personal, Strictly confidential.
To Legation Counsellor Bobrik, Inland IIC:

In the event of a PW's death, we, as the detaining power, are, according to the Prisoner-of-War Convention of 27 July 1929, under the following obligations:

Every case of death must be reported to the Armed Forces Information Office which, in its turn, passes on this report, inclusive of enrollment number, personal data, day of death, and place of burial to the Central Information Office of the International Red Cross in Geneva for notification to the country of origin. The cause of death -- without detailed account -- will be mentioned only if disclosed on the death certificate.

The Armed Forces Information Service is further under the obligation of collecting all articles of personal use (valuables, letters, paybooks, identification, and so on) belonging to deceased prisoners of war and of dispatching them to the country of origin.

On the other hand, unless there has been an additional, definite arrangement to this effect as, for instance, in the case of the Anglo-German convention, we are under no obligation to bring to the knowledge of the protecting power cases of violent or unnatural death.

In view of the fact that the country of origin is naturally interested in detailed information in cases of unnatural or violent death, especially where the supposition of an infringement of the agreement seems justifiable, it has become a mutual practice to notify the protecting power of all such cases with the additional result of a relevant investigation by the Foreign Office. In this connection a decisive role has been played by the fact that, on account of its conventional right of correspondence and verbal intercourse with the prisoners of war, the protecting power is in a position to collect information of this kind elsewhere, subsequently demanding an explanation in the case of a violation of the agreement.

In any case the protecting power, in the absence of witnesses or detailed data in particular, will have to content itself with the result of the official investigation as submitted by the Foreign Office and it is, moreover, not entitled to demands such as exhumation, subsequent post-mortems by government pathologists, etc.

With reference to French prisoners of war, following this procedure, notice is sent to General Bridoux's French section for Prisoner-of-War Affairs. On the other hand the de Gaulle government receives notifications of death only in the already mentioned routine manner through the Armed Forces Information Office or the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The de Gaulle government, not being in the charge of a protecting power, can direct inquiries only through the International Red Cross, and we are under no obligation to answer them.

18 January 1945
[Signed] Krieger.

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Post by David Thompson » 27 Dec 2004 07:24

Affidavit of Horst Wagner, Chief of Division Inland II of The German Foreign Office, 26 November 1947, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 13: United States of America v. Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al. (Case 11: 'Ministries Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1952. pp. 47-49.
Translation of Document NG-3658, Prosecution Exhibit 1250.

I, Horst Wagner, Senior Legation Counsellor, retired, herewith declare the following under oath:

I was born in Poznan on 17 May 1906. After attending the Realgymnasium in Steglitz, the University in Berlin (the College for Political Science and the College for Physical Training), I worked in the German press and in 1936 entered the England Section of Ribbentrop's office to entertain foreign guests of honor. In 1938 I became scientific coworker in the Protocol Division of the Foreign Office, later on received a commission and in 1943 took over direction of Inland II; in this position I was appointed Senior Legation Counsellor.

On 12 November 1944 at 1730 hours, Ambassador Ritter called me into his office and informed me of the following: A German general of the Wehrmacht, named Brodowski, had been murdered by French resistance forces. Following this the Fuehrer had decreed corresponding countermeasures and the Foreign Office was ordered to assert its opinion based on the point of view of international law. I was to arrange immediately for a discussion between SS Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner and ourselves, concerning the form the plan was to take and concerning later speech directives, and to ensure that the order would not be carried out until then. Furthermore he informed me that he would exercise full supervision in the matter, that the affair would have to be kept strictly secret, and that references may be forwarded only in sealed envelopes when submitting the matter.

Akin to the character of Ambassador Ritter, the discussion was very brief. Since it was impossible for me on Sunday to contact Kaltenbrunner, I asked Legation Counsellor von Thadden to arrange for a meeting between myself, Ambassador Ritter and SS Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner. This was done on 13-14 November 1944. This discussion however did not take place since Ambassador Ritter was of the opinion that Lieutenant General Kaltenbrunner as the person lower in rank, would have to call on him. After SS Lieutenant General Berger, the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs, was dealing with the execution of the plan and after Colonel Meurer on 14 November 1944 expressed the opinion that the Fuehrer decree had been rescinded, I sent Thadden to Ritter so as to inform him about closer details, who then ordered that Kaltenbrunner be contacted.

On 16 November 1944 I was called by Mr. Ritter who reproached me for not having done anything in the matter yet. He told me again that he had been ordered by the Reich Foreign Minister to see to it that the order was carried out properly. Thereupon he sent me a written confirmation of our discussion. On the following day I was again called to Ambassador Ritter, who now told me that his discussion with Kaltenbrunner would not take place. At the same time Ambassador Ritter explained in detail the incident in France, the decree issued by the Fuehrer, and the order to the Foreign Office to examine the matter from the point of view of international law. Now I was to receive an official of the Security Service; this official was to inform me of the measures planned and he was to discuss with me the speech directives and points on international law.

On 18 November 1944 I was informed by Kaltenbrunner's adjutant that SS Senior Colonel Panzinger would be sent for a discussion. During the discussion Panzinger outlined the intended measures by the SD and I put them down verbatim; then the press release and points of international law were discussed. I could not understand the purpose of a press release, since it seemed illogical to camouflage the whole affair on the one hand and to publicize it on the other as a means of intimidation. In addition the SD set the date for the period 27-30 November 1944. As ordered, I then made certain that nothing would happen in the matter until approval of the Reich Foreign Minister had been obtained.

Immediately after the discussion I drew up a memorandum which was sent sealed to Ambassador Ritter and State Secretary Steengracht for initialing and then submitted by me to Minister Schmidt for the Foreign Minister in a sealed envelope. In doing so I gave special instructions. All information which then reached us in the matter was immediately forwarded to Ambassador Ritter and the more important points of the matter to the Foreign Minister via State Secretary Steengracht.

On 13 December 1944 a discussion took place between Thadden and Panzinger in which the latter stated that preparations concerning the French generals had been concluded and that a report on the intentions of the SD would be submitted. This report was forwarded to Ambassador Ritter and State Secretary Steengracht via myself for the purpose of submitting it to the Foreign Minister.

On 4 January 1945 Kaltenbrunner's report to Himmler was sent to me by Panzinger and submitted to the Foreign Minister via Ambassador Ritter and Minister Schmidt. In order to close the affair I was asked by Minister Schmidt upon instruction of the Foreign Minister to discuss with Minister Albrecht what rights the protecting power would have in the matter. Simultaneously Minister's instruction concerning a press release was given. As already mentioned, it was to be attempted to intimidate the enemy.

Since, as far as I recall, and for reasons which I do not remember at present, a discussion between myself and Albrecht never took place. Bobrik, in order to obtain the approval of the Minister as ordered, asked Dr. Krieger of the Legal Division for an opinion concerning the rights of the foreign protecting power.

I cannot say for the moment when I learned that the special order had been carried out. It is certain that I knew nothing of it until 19 January 1945. Only the Legal Division could inform the protecting power of this incident.

I had always hoped that the Minister would prevent the carrying out of this murder plan. Since I have been disappointed in my justified assumption I must characterize this incident as a crime under international law.

These statements are true and were made without any coercion. I have sworn to them, read, and signed them.

26 November 1947
[Signed] Horst Wagner
Senior Legation Counsellor, retired.

Ostuf Charlemagne
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Post by Ostuf Charlemagne » 27 Dec 2004 23:51

Interesting .Congratulations ,Thompson .

I just wonder why those stupid german Gestapo/SD guys put everything on papers ? Death squads ops get VERBAL orders only .
German amateurs .......

David Thompson
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Post by David Thompson » 28 Dec 2004 00:00

Ostuf -- You remarked:
I just wonder why those stupid german Gestapo/SD guys put everything on papers ? Death squads ops get VERBAL orders only .
German amateurs .......
Note that it isn't the Gestapo/SD's files that those documents came from, but those recovered from the Reich Foreign Office. They were pioneers in the death squad business, and that required a certain amount of trial and error (in this case both, and not in that order).

60 years later, we now know that it's always better to learn from the experiences of others, and overconfidence is usually a mistake, especially when it involves a prominent victim. Even 40 years later, think of the awkwardly mishandled death of Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. at the Manila international airport in 1983 in the Philippines, just as an example of how badly these things can still go awry.

michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 28 Dec 2004 00:44

Were the circumstances of the death of General Brodowski elucidated?

David Thompson
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Post by David Thompson » 28 Dec 2004 00:49

Michael -- You asked:
Were the circumstances of the death of General Brodowski elucidated?
Not in the documents I've seen on General Mesny's murder. Here's what I have on the man in my own files:

von Brodowski, Fritz (1886-1944) [Generalleutnant] – Reichswehr service; commander, 16th Mounted Regiment (R.R.16); Inspector, Armed Forces Replacement Inspectorate Stuttgart (Insp.W.E.J. Stuttgart) 1 May 1938-26 Dec 1941; commander, Field Replacement Division B (Feld Ers. Div. B) 1 Jun 1942; commander, 404th Division 25 Sept 1942-14 Mar 1943; commander, 398th High Field Command (Oberfeldkommandantur [O.F.K.] 398) summer 1943; commander, 588th High Field Command (Oberfeldkommandantur [O.F.K.] 588) 15 Apr 1944; commander, Battle Group (Kampfgruppe) "von Brodowski" 1 Sept 1944 {captured by French troops near Jussey in Haut-Saone (NYT 27 Oct 1944:6:6); taken to Besancon and executed "while attempting to escape" c. 6 Nov 1944 (NYT 8 Nov 1944:19:3; Set Europe Ablaze p. 219); or KIA 20 Oct 1944 at Besancon, France (ABR-Croisier-H; ABR-H).}

I've posted an inquiry about his death in the ABR section of the forum at:

David Thompson
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Post by David Thompson » 30 Dec 2004 18:39

For more on von Brodowski see JEROME Georges' post at ... 398#609398

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