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966th Fortress Regiment (909th and 910th Battalion)
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[Complete testimony is recorded in mimeographed transcript, 11/19-21/1947, 11/24-26/1947 and 12/1/1947, pp. 6320-6288.]
DR. SAUTER: Now, Witness, I come to the last individual count of the indictment, dated 5/12/947, as far as this concerns you. It concerns the case of the Italian general, Gandin. With regard to this case, in order to refresh your memory, I will show you the report concerned.
This is the report, Document NOKW-1354, Prosecution Exhibit 47 [Parts of this document are reproduced in section B.]. Have you got this report?
Now, please, would you state something about this incident?
DEFENDANT LANZ: This was at the conclusion of the fighting against the Italian division which was on the islands of Corfu and Cephalonia after the Italian capitulation.
Q. And when was this?
A. This was the second half of 9/1943.
Q. And before this incident, had you had anything to do with the Italian capitulation?
A. Yes, my connection with the Italian capitulation was more or less accidental. This was while I was in Athens at the beginning of 9/1943.
Q. That is before your arrival in the Epirus?
A. Yes, immediately before.
Q. And the negotiations at that time which you had to carry out in Athens - did they have anything immediately to do with the case of Gandin on Corfu and Cephalonia?
A. Yes, they were immediately connected.
Q. And what did you have to do at the beginning of 9/1943 in Athens with the Italian capitulation? Witness, I am asking you this question because at that time, as you told us yesterday and the day before, you hadn't yet had anything to do. You hadn't been in action.
A. Well, it happened like this. On 9/8/1943 in the afternoon, I was in my billet in Athens and I heard by chance on the radio about the Italian capitulation. Thereupon, I asked the ADC [aide-de-camp] who was with me to ask the army group whether I had anything to do with this matter at all, and I think it was the chief of staff at that time who told me that it was possible that I would perhaps be entrusted with the carrying out of the countermeasures as planned in an order called "Achse" [Axis].
Q. Witness, and why were you entrusted with this? At that time, you hadn't yet been in action.
A. I asked myself that question too at the time, because in itself I had nothing at all to do with these things, and also at that time I expressly asked that if possible I would not be bothered with this matter. Thereupon, I was told that shortly I would be told something else about it.
Q. It still is not quite clear to me, General, why you concerned yourself with the matter at all. From my point of view one could perhaps say the matter didn't concern you at all. Why then did you concern yourself with the matter?
A. As a precaution, I tried to find out whether this whole matter concerned me at all because, after all, this Italian capitulation altered the whole situation and I had to tell myself that in some way or other I would be concerned by this because I knew that the army group intended, if the Italians left, to intervene in my staff. Therefore, I was interested in it.
Q. And where were the other generals at that time, who had been in action, and why weren't they entrusted with this task?
A. If I was informed correctly, when the Italian delegation arrived, and this, of course, was counted upon, the German military commander was to carry out the necessary negotiations with the Italians; but just at that moment, on this day, that German commander was not in Athens - he was on an official trip somewhere - and the Commanding General of the LXIX Corps, stationed in Athens, was also not present there. I think he was in the Peloponnesus, so I was the only one there. General Loehr, my commander in chief, then told me on the telephone that unfortunately he could not comply with my request and had to commission me, as the senior general in Athens at the moment, to take up negotiations with the Commander in Chief of the Italian 11th Army and to take to him the orders for the disarming and surrender of the Italians.
Q. How did you cope with this request from your commander in chief, General Loehr?
A. First of all I told the so-called German chief of staff [Stabschef] at that time, who was the liaison officer with the Italian High Command, to see me; also my own chief of staff; and I discussed the whole matter with them which had come so unexpectedly upon me.
Thereupon, I asked the German generals who were in Athens at that time and also the admiral who was present to come to me, and I told them that the commander in chief had just given me the order to conduct the negotiations with the Italian Commander in Chief with regard to the disarming and the surrender and that I wanted to discuss this with the, that is, the gentlemen who were present then, and decide what was to be done. In addition, I wanted to get some information about the situation of the German troops and the Italian troops around Athens because these things were rather unknown to me. Up until then I had not had anything to do with them at all; until then I had been living as a kind of private individual in Athens.
Q. And then, after this discussion with the German officers in Athens, what picture did you get of the situation?
A. The impression I got was mainly that in Athens there were very few German troops and very many Italian troops. In any case, the ratio was approximately 1 to 5.
Q. Then what did you do in order to carry out the disarming and surrender of the Italian Army, which you had been ordered to do?
A. I based my hopes on the fact that I would be able to settle this matter peacefully with the Italian commander from the very beginning. I was determined that any kind of dispute or even fighting should be avoided. I told this to the army group too, and I told them that in any case I would try to do my very best to conduct this not very pleasant task in a friendly manner with the Italians and to bring it to a successful conclusion.
Q. Did you also make preparations in case the Italian commander in chief in Athens refused to surrender?
A. Of course we talked about that; that was fairly obvious; we did not know what his attitude was. It was a very vague and unclear situation - a very unpleasant situation. I ordered that all the German troops in and around Athens should be prepared to carry out further orders, and then I telephoned His Excellency Vecchiarelli, the commander of the Italians.
Q And then you thereupon probably visited the Italian commander in Greece, Vecchiarelli, and then what happened?
A. I went to him with my chief [of staff]. The impression I received I can never forget. The Italian staff headquarters was strongly defended with barbed wire and fortifications, and machine guns and guards and a large number of officers were collected in front of the building and inside the building. They lived in the villa of the Greek Crown Prince. Of course, I was greeted by Vecchiarelli; I did not expect anything else. It was a rather cool reception. I gave him the order for complete disarming - all the weapons had to be given up and he had to surrender; and I asked him to capitulate to us.
Q. How did the Italian Commander in Chief behave in the face of this demand?
A. Of course he was rather shocked by this demand and he made objections to it; mainly, and I remember this, he said the complete disarming of his army would not be in agreement with the honor of his army and therefore I should refrain from this. He realized the situation and also realized that he had to surrender to us, but disarming would be too harsh. Thereupon, of course, followed a discussion and during the course of this discussion, after we had learned to know each other a bit, Vecchiarelli then suggested to me, on his own initiative, that he would go on fighting, on our side, and that, therefore, the disarming would be without point, that is, his surrender and his capitulation to us. He obligated himself to go on fighting as before, but on our side.
Q. But did the Italian Commander in Chief say anything, perhaps, about what would happen if this suggestion was not agreed with?
A. He mentioned, during the course of this discussion, that if I insisted on a complete disarming, then there would be a possibility that the Italians would oppose this and there would be fighting. He stressed again and again and asked that his soldiers be allowed to keep their guns.
Q. Then what was your reaction to this suggestion of the Italian Commander in Chief, Vecchiarelli?
A. The situation was, of course, not very simple for me. On the one hand I had my order to demand a capitulation of the Italians; on the other hand, Vecchiarelli made the proposal to me that he wanted to go on fighting, on our side; and I was in the middle. Just try to imagine the situation - everybody was standing around and waiting for something to happen. Since it was my determination to come to peaceful and friendly conclusions with the Italians, and at all costs to avoid fighting and hostilities with the Italians, I said to him, "Well, if my army group agrees to that, which, of course, I do not know beforehand, then, Your Excellency, I agree with your proposal, that is, that you go on fighting on our side". I was of the opinion that that actually was the best solution. Thereupon, the faces around me were rather relieved and Vecchiarelli, of course, was pleased about it. I was too, and in the conviction that right had been done, I took my leave. That was about half past 12 or 1 o'clock.
Q. When was that?
A. That was in the night, 9/8-9/1943, about half past 12 or 1 o'clock.
Q. And then what happened further during this night? Did you report to the army group?
A. I then called up the army group, of course, and first of all told the chief of staff who was there and who came to the telephone, that I had done this and this. I did not know whether I was going to get praise or censure. He said that that was not the task I had been given. He did not think that the commander in chief would agree to my measures. Shortly afterwards, General Loehr came to the telephone and I reported to him. He rather attacked me and asked me very harshly how did I come to alter this order which had been given to me, to act on my own authority, and to oppose the order of the OKW. He could in no way agree to this. Then I answered that I had hoped that was the best way. That otherwise there was a danger there that fighting would take place with the Italians - there was a possibility; and I thought that I had done the best thing that could possibly be done. My objections were without success and General Loehr was very harsh towards me and told me, "I order that the agreements which you have made should be rescinded at once, and that you carry out the orders I have given you, that is, the Italian 11th Army is to be immediately and completely disarmed and is to surrender to us". That was the essential point of what he said to me.
Q. So thereupon you received again the same task which you had received before. Then what did you think about this new commission? Did you want to carry it out or did you want to remain by your, let us call it, disobedience? What was your intention then?
A. First of all I was very angry, of course, over the fact that good intentions had gone awry. Thereupon, I talked with the gentlemen and told them what the commander in chief had ordered me to do and told them that they must, of course, prepare now for fighting with the Italians, which was extremely undesirable, because of the population. I asked them about their opinions as to what one should do in such a situation but they did not know either what to say.
Q. Witness Lanz, you have just said that you talked about this to "the gentlemen". Were those the German generals present in your billet, whom you have mentioned before?
A. Yes; there was the German liaison officer with the Italian High Command and then there was my own chief of staff, who is now in Russia - I do not know whether he is living or not - and there was the Commander of the 11th Air Force Division, General Drum. He had some of his own troops in and around Athens. Then there was a Brigadier General Holle; he was a commander of the air force which was in Athens, and then there was Rear Admiral Lange, who had the so-called naval force under him. I asked these men what was to be done; they shrugged their shoulders. At any rate we were clear then; and I was absolutely determined that fighting should not take place. This was an absolute impossibility.
Q. But General Lanz, in the face of the order of your commander in chief, after all, you had to do something. What did you do?
A. I then called up General Vecchiarelli again on the telephone.
Q. That was still at night?
A. Yes, that was around about 3 o'clock in the morning. There wasn't anything else to do. I went again with my chief [of staff] by car to the Italian headquarters. When I arrived there there was, of course, a great shock. General Vecchiarelli had already gone to bed and had to be called. Of course it was terribly embarrassing for me. He himself did not speak very much German and everything had to be translated by an interpreter. General Vecchiarelli was, of course, terribly shocked that I had come back again. I told him that I regretted very much that I had to come back to him again but I had the strict and unavoidable order; that my commander in chief was not agreeable in any way to the preliminary agreement which I had made with him and he had definitely rejected it and had demanded that I should obtain the surrender and disarming of the 11th Italian Army; and this was the order which I had to bring him. I told him that I regretted very much that this had come about but there remained nothing else for me to do except transmit this order to him.
Q. What was the attitude taken by the Italian Commander in Chief, Vecchiarelli, towards this order which you had to give him on behalf of your commander in chief?
A. General Vecchiarelli said, first of all, that he was very sorry that the agreement we had made was ruled out and he objected again to the total disarming. He said it would be a dishonor for his troops to give up their arms. He could understand that the army had to surrender to us in the situation, but he really could not agree at all to the complete disarming. He then implied that if the complete disarming of his troops was ordered they probably would not obey an order of this kind and that there would be the possibility of fighting. I assured him that I wanted to do my very best.
Q. Perhaps you would begin the sentence again, Witness.
A. I told him that I certainly did not intend that fighting or hostilities should take place, and that I would do my best to avoid this. Then he kept on repeating his suggestion that his troops should be allowed to keep their guns so that the troops would not appear to be externally disarmed.
Q. Well, if I understand you correctly, Witness, during this second discussion General Vecchiarelli was in agreement with the surrender and the disarming, in principle, but he wanted this disarming to be carried out in a way which would be in conformity with the honor of the Italian Army. Did I understand you correctly?
A. Yes, that is a correct description. We then talked about the possibility which then remained in this situation, with respect to what we could do. Then I told him that for my part I would do my best to see that, for the moment at least, his troops retained their arms in order to allay his fear of the dishonoring of his troops, I told him, and I said that I would do my best provided that he was in agreement that the 11th Army should surrender to the German Army, and that if the heavy arms - the heavy machine guns etc. - were to be given up immediately, so that at least a part of the disarming order was carried out.
Q. So, General, you deviated again from the order of your commander in chief?
A. Yes, that's correct. But in this situation I thought - I might even say - that that was the most tactful and most clever thing I could do. I was forced to do this.
Q. And then, Witness Lanz, after you offered to the Italian Commander, Vecchiarelli, that, to begin with, his light arms should be left with the troops, what did General Vecchiarelli say? Did he accept this offer or did he reject it?
A. Well, of course, we talked about the situation, and the matter was very clear. Then he convinced himself that the measures which I had asked him to take in the matter then in existence were correct, and it was a sign of my good will; so he declared himself to be in agreement with it. That is, the army should surrender and that the heavy weapons should be given up, and that he would distribute the orders for this to his troops if the guns [rifles] could be kept. That was his request.
Thereupon I told him that I would take notice of the fact that he was in agreement with the surrender and that the heavy weapons should be given up and that he should issue orders to that effect, and that I, for my part, would do my best to see that the rifles remained with the troops. That was the final result of our discussion. With this my task, that is the disarming had not been actually carried out, but the surrender had been completely carried out, and the Italian general was in agreement with this.
Q. But this mitigation of the conditions of the capitulation on your own initiative, with which you had agreed and which you had allowed General Vecchiarelli, did these things meet with the approval of your Commander in Chief, General Loehr?
A. I reported to the army group when I returned that I had now carried out the order, and that General Vecchiarelli had accepted the surrender and that he was in agreement with it, but he had urgently requested that, temporarily at least, the rifles should be kept; otherwise, his troops would feel that they had been dishonored. I said that I myself urgently requested that this suggestion should be complied with by the German High Command.
Q. And what did General Loehr say to that?
A. He was in agreement with that. He did not have anything against it; he agreed to it.
Q. And then subsequently, that is, now your task had been completed, did you have anything else to do with the question of the carrying out of the disarming?
A. The next morning, that is, after this very hectic night, at about 10 o'clock in the morning, General Felmy came to me in my billet and took over the measures to be carried out and, of course, I was very pleased that I was relieved of this unpleasant situation.
Q. And then did the Italian Commander in Chief, General Vecchiarelli, adhere to this agreement? In other words did he give the order to his troops for disarming and surrender?
A. I know only the following: that he had agreed with me that the disarming would be carried out. That's what I know. Therefore, I must assume that he issued the order because the troops would not give up their weapons by themselves. The disarming of the whole 11th Army was carried out on the Greek mainland during the next 14 days quite smoothly. I don't know of one single case in which there were any difficulties.
Q. You said, therefore, that the whole Italian 11th Army in Greece, under the command of General Vecchiarelli, as Commander in Chief, carried out the capitulation, the disarming, and the surrender without any great friction?
A. Even today I still don't know about any case in which resistance was shown. The whole Greek mainland did not resist at all or shoot within the sphere of my corps. This was, of course, with one exception. The people otherwise surrendered and gave up their arms. I have already described how the Italians were gathered together in collection centers. The Italians then marched in groups to the railroad station. Then they collected there. I don't know any case in which there was difficulty anywhere on the Greek mainland. No complications or difficulties were shown during this surrender.
Q. And in Ioannina, the capital of the Epirus where you went afterwards, the surrender of arms, on the whole, was carried out without friction. Is that correct?
A. I have already stated that the local corps staff there told me when I arrived that I was to remain there and that the disarming and surrender were to be carried out. This whole surrender and disarming was carried out completely and smoothly and I don't know of one single case in which resistance occurred The Italian corps headquarters had tried to get the people in Corfu and Cephalonia to be sensible about this. I will talk about this later. The Italian commander sent his own chief of staff in order to make Gandin surrender properly.
Q. And where was the one case in which there were difficulties, Witness?
A. Only with the one division which was on the islands of Corfu and Cephalonia.
Q. Corfu and Cephalonia. They are on the western coast of the Epirus. What was the situation on these two islands - Cephalonia and Corfu?
A. On those two islands there were troops of the Italian division which was under the command of General Gandin. This division, or rather parts of it, had refused to surrender and to give up their arms as they had been ordered to do by their own Italian superiors [officers].
Q. Can you tell us, Witness, how many German units, at that time, were stationed on those two islands and how large they were?
A. I'm in no position to give you an exact answer, but I can you an approximate answer. To the best of my recollection there were, on the island of Cephalonia, one regimental staff and called fortress battalions. The leader of the regiment was, at the same time, the German commander of the island. The Italian island commander was the commander of the Italian division. On Corfu there was approximately one-third of the Italian division of General Gandin. With respect to German troops there was one airfield command staff, consisting of about 100 members and, apart from that, there were a few naval engineers. Altogether there were very weak German forces there.
Q. The Italian fortress commander, you say, the commander of the island, was the commander of the division. That was the Italian general, Gandin, whose name has been repeatedly mentioned. Can you tell us the name of the German commander of the island?
A. First, that was Lieutenant Colonel Barge.
Q. Perhaps you would spell the name "Barge".
A. B-A-R-G-E. He is, at the moment, a British prisoner of war in Egypt.
Q. And do you know, General, in order to establish this right in the beginning, the name of General Gandin's division?
A. The division was called the "Division Acqui."
Q. I see. Perhaps you would spell it.
A. A-C-Q-U-I, Acqui.
Q. Perhaps you could, first of all, tell the Tribunal what conditions prevailed on the island of Cephalonia and what events took place. That was the island where General Gandin, himself, was stationed with the bulk of his division.
A. General Gandin was, at my request, asked by the German island commander to surrender his arms and to capitulate, as was done everywhere. General Gandin refused to do that. Thereupon General Gandin also received from his 11th Italian Army the order to surrender his arms.
Q. Witness, how did things proceed on 9/13/1943, which is the day from which the radio message just read from Barge is dated; did any fighting start then, or can you remember?
A. On 9/13/1943 the Italians opened hostilities against us very suddenly [which was] surprising to us, although not a single shot was fired before that. Two of our ships were shot at, and there were [personnel] wounded and killed, and the Italian batteries fired at the place, Lixuri, which is also shown on the map which is in the possession of the Tribunal. This place Lixuri [Lixourion], situated on a peninsula, was the headquarters of the German commander
Q. Just a minute, General, the place Lixuri, as you can see, is situated along a bay on the Island Cephalonia, to the left on the bottom of the map next to the letter "A" of Cephalonia, this is the place, Lixuri, just mentioned by the defendant. You can continue now, General.
A. After our discussions in Cephalonia had, strangely enough, remained without any result and the Italians for some incomprehensible reason started open hostilities against us -this was the only such case in Greece - I flew by seaplane to Cephalonia.
Q. When was that?
A. On 9/13/1941, toward noon.
* * *
A. At that time I was of the optimistic opinion that I might succeed in achieving, in a discussion with General Gandin, an adequate solution of the affair. I could really see no reason why that should not be possible. There no longer could be any doubts that the 11th Italian Army had surrendered or troop units had surrendered. The Italian supreme command had agreed to this surrender, and had also addressed the order to General Gandin to surrender. I could, therefore, see no reason why the same thing should not apply for Cephalonia, and this is why I flew to Cephalonia with the intention to visit General Gandin and to talk to him. As my plane approached the town of Argostolion, which is also on the map - this is the capital of the island where General Gandin's staff was located - my plane was shot at. Therefore, it was not possible for me to land there. That is, I could not go down on the water. It was a seaplane. Consequently, I flew to the northern end of the large bay, about 5 kilometers distant from Argostolion and I landed there. From there I went to Lixuri to the German commander of the Island. When I arrived there I still saw the marks of grenades which had been caused before that by the Italian artillery. I remember quite clearly one of these marks was on the building where the Italian island commander with his staff was quartered. I then asked Lieutenant Colonel Barge to inform me about the situation, because the whole situation as not quite clear to me. After he had informed me, I asked him whether I could in some way contact General Gandin. That, after all, had been the purpose of my trip, merely to discuss things with General Gandin. Barge told me that he had a telephone connection with Gandin. Then I asked him to put me into contact by telephone with Gandin.
Q. Can you perhaps tell us what kind of a telephone connection that was?
A. I believe it was a sea-cable between Argostolion and Lixuri.
* * *
A. Yes, there was water between, of course.
Q. You reached General Gandin by telephone?
A. Yes, and I talked to General Gandin
Q. Just a moment. Will you tell us as clearly and precisely as possible what was said during your telephone conversation with General Gandin?
A. Today, after 4 years, I cannot of course remember verbatim what was said, but I can still recall certain trends of thought. Substantially, I told General Gandin that I regretted not to be able to come to Argostolion, as I had intended to, because to my intense surprise I had been shot at while going there. Further, I told him that I was surprised that on that day, in the morning, he had opened fire against German troops and against Lixuri. I believe I said that I couldn't understand the meaning of such action. I then told him - I always mean along those lines - that it should be known to him that his army under General Vecchiarelli had capitulated and had surrendered its arms, and that he himself had received an order from the Italian Army to surrender his arms. I asked him why he didn't do that. Gandin replied, which I still remember, "the orders which I received were not clear". I believe that is the way he put it, his orders were not clear. He asked me, as I also remember, to give him a clear order, telling him what he was supposed to do. That is what he told me. I said to him, "You will immediately receive the order from me, but I would like to point out to you that if the orders which you have are not carried out you and those responsible for this fact will be taken to account in a very severe manner". That is what I particularly stressed. He gave me to understand that if he received an order from me everything would be in order and that he would arrange for the necessary steps to be taken. That is in substance the course of my conversation with General Gandin.
Q. Witness, did you subsequently send such an order to General Gandin as you have said, an order such as he asked you to send?
A. Yes, on the very same table where I telephoned I, myself, wrote this order in my own handwriting and had this order transmitted by telephone to General Gandin. He received this order, and the text of this order is among the documents.
DR. SAUTER: May it please the Tribunal, we have no opportunity to prove through documents what General Lanz has said here because he and his officers lost all their documents and their baggage on the retreat. In spite of this we are still in a position to submit to you this order, thanks to the ruling of the Tribunal that the war diaries of the XXII Mountain Corps and General Lanz were to be brought here. In these war diaries we find this order, we managed to trace it there, and I am now in a position to submit this order in documentary form, which of course, is of great importance. That the order was not created now but in 1943 is quite obvious, because it came from Washington. This order can be found in document book 5 for Lanz on page 16. It is Document Lanz 166, Lanz Exhibit 64. This order, which is a part of the war diary of XXII Mountain Corps, General Lanz's corps, has the following text. I quote:
"9/13/1943, The Commanding General of the XXII Mountain Corps, To: The Commanding Officer of the Italian Division 'Acqui' i.e., Gandin.
"1. The Division Acqui is ordered, effective immediately, to surrender all weapons, except the officers' small arms, to the German commander of the island, Lieutenant Colonel Barge, as has already been done by all parts of the Italian VIII and XXVI Army Corps.
"2. If the weapons are not surrendered, the German armed forces will enforce this surrender.
"3. I hereby state that the division under your command, which fired at German troops and two German ships this morning at 0700 hours causing casualties of 5 killed and 8 wounded has committed an open and unmistakable act of hostility".
The document is signed "Lanz, Lieutenant General, Mountain Troops."
Q. Witness, in consideration of the concluding sentence that Gandin's division had committed an act of hostility, I would make an interpellation; do you know when the declaration of war of Italy to Germany was issued?
A. I gathered that from the documents that were given to us in Nuernberg. According to these, the declaration of war was issued on 10/13/1943.
Q. On the 13th?
A. On 10/13/1943; that is what I understand.
Q. And we are here dealing with the date of 9/13/1943?
* * *
Q. At that time there was not yet a declaration of war from Italy to Germany, is that correct?
A. Yes, it is.
Q. Did you believe, General Lanz, that this order which General Gandin received from you on his request would once and for all straighten out this rather difficult situation?
A. At that time I was optimistic enough to believe that, especially after General Gandin had, as I have described, told me on the telephone that he would act in this way. He, himself, asked me to give him such an order. I had described the situation to him and now there could be no doubt about anything. He knew his army had surrendered. He had an order from his own army. He, furthermore, had an order from me. He knew my attitude that I wanted to deal with the situation without applying force, and he gave me to understand that everything would be in order. I flew back to Ioannina and told my officers that everything would be all right. I was firmly convinced that that was so.
Q. And that was on 9/13/1943?
A. Yes, it was.
Q. You flew back to Ioannina, and what did the Italian General Gandin do?
A. He contacted Lieutenant Colonel Barge and continued negotiations with him. If I recollect correctly, he agreed on a surrender of arms in three different stages. I believe on 9/14, 9/15 and 9/16/1943; Lieutenant Colonel Barge reported this to me and asked me whether I would agree to this procedure. I did not want to start a dispute, and had Barge informed of my agreement to the procedure that General Gandin undertook his surrender in three stages. I said that I had to demand, however, that it be started on the very next day. If he agreed to do that, I would consent to the procedure and General Gandin was to be informed that his division, as well as all other Italian divisions, would be eventually transported to Italy. If he surrendered and delivered his arms, as was done by all others, nothing would happen to him. That is what I asked to be told to him. All was bona fide, because I believed everything would be in order.
Q. General Lanz, how did the events on Cephalonia develop after this, did General Gandin keep his promise or did he not?
A. General Gandin, unfortunately, did not keep his promise. The arms were not surrendered. It was reported that a part of the Italian island occupation forces refused to surrender their weapons, and it was further reported that three Italian commanders, who wanted to give up their arms, were shot at by their own troops. Therefore, the situation was that a resistance group, or whatever you want to call it, was in existence in Cephalonia which dominated the situation there and refused the delivering up of arms and retained their hostile attitude toward us.
After this report had been received, I had to make a decision. In the meantime, my superior agency had rather unpleasantly taken me to account and pressed me continuously to take action and kept after me as to what was the matter with Cephalonia and General Gandin, why this matter was not in order, why I did not take any steps against them, and why I did not take any decisive action. The army group in turn was being pressed by the OKW and in the final analysis by Hitler, himself.
Thus, there was an increasing nervousness among all present because the affairs on the Island of Cephalonia and later Corfu could not be put in order, as expressed by the army group. In this matter I was more or less held as the responsible person who was too slack to put matters in order there. In actual fact, all I had tried was to endeavor in my negotiations with General Vecchiarelli to deal with the situation without any dispute or hostility.
I now had, whether I wanted to or not, to make a decision to take steps against the Italians in Cephalonia. I informed myself [from] among my staff, which of the troops were at my immediate disposal [and] whether there was sufficient shipping space to transport troops to Cephalonia. That was not very easy as the island is in the Adriatic Sea and there could be no doubt that the two fortress battalions and one company, which were also stationed on Cephalonia, would be suppressed by the Italians, and that was what almost happened. I therefore ordered the 1st Mountain Division to send two battalions, one mountain and one artillery battalion, and the 114th Rifle Division to send one rifle regiment immediately to the collecting point from where the troops were to be provisionally transported to Cephalonia.
That happened in due course. I reported to the army group which in the meantime became rather unpleasant and unfriendly, that the troops had been sent to Cephalonia and that as soon as they arrived there the Italian surrender of arms would be enforced.
Q. Did any fighting come about later and if so, who started the attack?
A. On the basis of the relation of strength, the Italians were the ones who attacked. The Italians first of all attacked our troops, the two fortress battalions stationed there. One battalion on the northern part of the island faced a very difficult position, so that for some time we thought that battalion was lost. At first, there was nothing I could do because I had no forces. When the troops, which I mentioned before, arrived on the island they landed on the southwest corner of the peninsula Lixuri. The Italian coastal batteries fired heavily at the landing troops and considerable losses were suffered. The area of the landing had to be transferred to another spot, but eventually we managed to land the troops. The troops were collected and were first of all committed, so as to relieve the Germans on the northern part of island and to defeat the Italians who were there.
Q. Witness, when did you learn for the first time that General Gandin at the very last moment stated that he had been made many promises by a lieutenant colonel of the air force and what did you learn about this? Did you take General Gandin's statements seriously or, if not, what did you think about the whole thing?
A. I cannot remember the details of the Busch affair. I only recall the whole affair through reading the documents here. At the time, I had been under the impression that General Gandin tried to find a pretext not to surrender his arms. Even today, after examining the whole affair thoroughly, I feel inclined to still assume this attitude of Gandin's. He gave new reasons continuously in order not to surrender his arms, although he knew quite well what the situation was. His army had ordered the surrender, his army had surrendered, and I had issued an order to surrender his arms. He could not help being aware of these facts, but he always tried to find a reason not to have to surrender his arms. Eventually, he simply forced me to use force against him. Originally, I did not want to do that.
Q. Was the Island Cephalonia stormed by German troops after that?
A. I said that the German troops, one battalion, which on the north island was stuck there between rocks and the sea was relieved and the Italians were defeated. I, myself, later inspected that area. That gave me the hope that the Italians would realize everything was quite senseless, which it was. When I flew to Cephalonia the second time I took leaflets along which were especially produced in Ioannina, many thousands of leaflets, in order to drop them over the Italian front and to try and make these people reasonable at the very last moment if possible. In the meantime, after 4 days, there had been an uncertain state of affairs; pressure was exerted by the army group and all of a sudden a Fuehrer order arrived
Q. Just a moment, Witness. Perhaps before you come to that chapter you can tell us whether you, yourself, led the battle of Cephalonia or did you commission another officer to do that, and if so who was the officer who was in charge of this? I am asking you this question because it is a question which will play a part on later occasions.
A. I have mentioned that originally the German island commander, who was the commander of the two fortress batteries, Lieutenant Colonel Barge, had been the man in charge. Barge honestly tried to cope with General Gandin, but he did not succeed. I am sure it was not his fault that he could not deal with him. After the troops had to be sent to Cephalonia, which I have just described, a commander of these troops arrived with them, a Major von Hirschfeld. For tactical reasons among others, I appointed Major von Hirschfeld island commander of Cephalonia and Lieutenant Colonel Barge, after that time, only had the area of the peninsula Lixuri left to him. Later on, Barge left Cephalonia and was transferred because they were not satisfied with him because he did not take strong enough measures. He was later in Crete, where he was taken as a British prisoner of war. I believe he is in Egypt today.
Q. Witness, a few minutes ago you touched upon a subject with which I shall deal now. You said that during these days you received a Fuehrer order. What kind of an order was it?
A. During those days a Fuehrer order arrived. I can no longer say whether it was a teletype or a radio message. To the best of my recollection, it was a very short order which expressed that all Italians of Gandin's division were to be shot for mutiny. This is an order which, if not in the exact text, at least in substance, has been mentioned here by General Foertsch. This Fuehrer order put me into a very difficult conflict of loyalties. For me, I might almost say it was impossible to have all these Italians shot. It was not feasible. When I received the order, therefore, I refused in front of my officers to carry out such a order. I was shocked by such a request. For at least 2 day I didn't quite know what I should really do.
Q. Witness Lanz, you have already talked about this Fuehrer order and about the fact that you opposed this Fuehrer order, perhaps you would like to tell us again what in the main, without quoting literally, was ordered in the Fuehrer order; who was to be shot according to the original Fuehrer order?
A. The Italians belonging to Gandin's division were to be shot as mutineers.
Q. Did I understand you correctly that the Fuehrer order stated originally that all Italians were to be shot?
A. Yes, to the best of my recollection.
Q. And you protested against this as you have told us and as also can be seen from the war diaries; how many Italians would have had to be shot, according to the Fuehrer order - how many approximately?
A. Well, I should estimate, in Cephalonia there were about 6000 to 7000.
Q. And you refused to do that?
A. Yes, I refused to do that.
Q. You repeatedly rejected it and refused to do it, as you said?
A. I can only say I refused to do it. I cannot confirm it in more detail, but in any case I refused to do it.
Q. I am only asking you if you did it repeatedly, because this can be seen from the document, which I have just read, and you could perhaps use this to aid your memory?
A. Yes, that resulted from my attitude.
Q. Witness, and then how did the matter go on?
A. I objected to this Fuehrer order, and I expressed the fact that I could not carry out this order. And then, as far as I remember, the decision came that the men could be spared but that only officers should be shot because of mutiny. I thought that this decision also went too far, and I expressed my point view again that only the guilty should be punished and that some kind of a category should be fixed so that only the guilty came into the question. And, as far as I know, I didn't get any further decision from the OKW with regard to this renewed objection of mine.
Q. And then did you, yourself, again fly to Cephalonia?
A. Yes, on 9/17 or 9/19/1943 - at any rate about this time - I flew back again to Cephalonia in order to talk future steps over with the island commander there. In the meantime, as I have reported, the Italians in the northern part of the island had been defeated, on the battle field, of course, and then I discussed with the island commander what had to be done tactically in case the Italians did not refrain from resistance. I brought the leaflets with me, and on my return flight I dropped them over the front myself. There was still a certain hope that the Italians would then stop fighting because this fighting was, in my opinion, quite senseless.
Q. Witness, did you talk with the new island commander Major von Hirschfeld, also, about this order?
A. Yes, of course, I talked to him because I was caused a lot of trouble by this matter. The situation in which I found myself, at that time, was very soul torturing and difficult. As a result I did not only talk with the officers of my staff about it, but also with Major von Hirschfeld. I also told him that it was simply not possible to do anything of this kind, and Hirschfeld completely agreed with me. I said to him that I had objected to this order and I hoped that the objection could be sustained. I said that I would tell him what decision was reached about it, but I told him, at the same time, that as soon as possible he should check and investigate this Gandin affair and find the responsible people for this mutiny, and that they should be sentenced according to court martial. He agreed with this and said he would do his very best.
Q. And did your request to Major von Hirschfeld coincide with the second suggestion which you made to the army group, and to which you did not receive an order?
A. Of course it coincided with the application which I had made, namely, that the guilty people should be found and made responsible for the matter. I said that some category of men, fixed for some formal reason, should not be sentenced or shot.
Q. An intermediate question, Witness. You said, with regard to this second proposal, in which you suggested that only the guilty officers concerned in the mutiny should be shot - not a whole category - that you didn't get any answer to this. Did you find out why you didn't get any answer to this second suggestion?
A. I can't remember, but perhaps this suggestion didn't get through or wasn't passed on or got stuck somewhere.
Q. Therefore, you don't know whether this second proposal was passed on by the army group or whether it was rejected by Hitler? You don't know anything about this?
* * *
Q. You said you didn't get any answer, if I understood you correctly. You then gave Major von Hirschfeld the direction based on your second proposal. You dropped a large number of leaflets. The affiant Doeppenschmitt has confirmed that. Did these leaflets have any kind of an effect, and how did the situation on the island develop?
A. Unfortunately these leaflets had no effect at all, or perhaps I should say that they had the absolute opposite effect apparently, because it was reported, as far as I can remember, that new reserves from the southern part of the island were brought up to the front. That is, in order to continue the fighting, and the fighting was actually continued. Our expectation that the fighting would stop was not fulfilled.
Q. Well, General Lanz, how did the affairs continue? The order of the Italian general, Gandin, dated 9/20/1943?
A. On 9/20/1943, after the hopelessness of our efforts became clear to us; we finally prepared ourselves for the attack, and on 9/21/1943 this attack started. As far as I can remember, it lasted about 1&1/2 days. The tactical details are of no interest here. In any case, after rather difficult and violent fighting, we were successful in driving over the mountains into the southern part of the island, and when the town of Argostolion was reached, the Italians finally surrendered.
Q. With General Gandin?
A. Yes, also General Gandin.
* * *
Q. Witness, how often did you personally fly to Cephalonia because of this matter?
A. As far as I remember, I was there three times.
Q. Three times, personally?
* * *
Q. And then what did Major von Hirschfeld tell you about the investigation of the Gandin affair, after you had entrusted him with this investigation?
A. Major von Hirschfeld reported to me that the resistance originated from Gandin, principally from the chief of staff and obviously with the agreement of General Gandin. A large number of officers had joined this resistance group.
Q. Did he report to you, as a result, whether individual officers or individual parts of troops of the Italians were in favor of the regular carrying out of the capitulation?
A. Well, this can already be seen from former reports which we have already discussed. It was also similar, as on Corfu, that there was a resistance group there which organized its resistance despite all requests to stop fighting. In spite of the previous capitulation and orders which we sent them they did not stop their resistance but the fighting was continued to the uttermost. There can be no doubt that at this stage this was a completely irregular fight.
Q. Now, Witness, what was the task you gave Major von Hirschfeld with regard to the judicial settlement of the case of Gandin?
A. I have already stated that on my second visit to Cephalonia I said that the affair had to be investigated, and that the guilty people had to be sentenced according to a court martial. As far as I know, I repeated this commission again to Major von Hirschfeld when I was there the third time.
Q. And did the court martial sit in order to sentence the guilty officers?
A. I remember that when the sentence of the court martial was announced against the guilty men, General Gandin, as far as I remember, asked that he be allowed to speak either to Field Marshal Keitel or to General Jodl. He referred again to his connections which have already been mentioned. This, however, was turned down by the island commander, since General Gandin, by his whole conduct, had no right to do this; he had been given sufficient time.
Q. Witness, the prosecution maintains that all officers of the Gandin staff were shot. Is that correct?
A. I tried, in the files which were available to me, to find material to repute this assertion, but I could not find any figures. I, personally, can say that as far as I recall that is not correct. Gandin and his chief of staff and several officers were shot, but I do not know that all the officers were shot.
Q. You mean all the officers of the staff?
A. Yes. But unfortunately I could not find any proof of this.
Q. Even if you are not a legal man, can you give us some indication as to the basis, the paragraphs, or the point of view on which the sentencing of General Gandin and guilty officers was carried out? I mean, according to the court martial proceedings, of what had they made themselves guilty?
A. Of course we thought a lot about these things at the time. The legal position, the position on which we based our assumptions was, as far as I remember, the following: After General Vecchiarelli's army had capitulated, the members of this army were therefore prisoners of war. Whether they wanted this or not was not important from the legal point of view. Well, then, if these prisoners of war, in spite of the orders which we sent to them, and in spite of the negotiations which were carried on with them, and in spite of the summonses which were given to them, goodness knows that was done in this case, in spite of all this, continued their resistance with their weapons in their hands, then of course that is mutiny. If a prisoner of war fights with his weapon in his hand against the detaining power, in this case German troops, then, of course, this is mutiny according to German conception, and probably also according to other conceptions.
Q. General, you have already said that only General Gandin and the guilty officers who had committed this mutiny or this revolt were sentenced and shot. What happened to the other officers?
A. Well, there were several thousand Italians on the island who actually, according to the order mentioned, were supposed to have been shot. The Italians were transported away in ships.
Q. With the officers?
A. Yes, of course. All the Italians who were taken prisoners, apart from the officers who were sentenced, were transported away as prisoners of war. As far as I know, first of all to Patras and then after that to Piraeus. As far as I remember, there were over 5000.
Q. What were the German losses during this fighting which - you have just described to us - was caused by the Italians, I mean the German losses?
A. Of course I don't know the details any more. I could not say anything about this, unless I had not found an indication in the files. It said there were about 50 to 60 dead, about 150 wounded, and some missing, that is more than 200 losses.
Q. Witness, you told us before that General Gandin and those officers who acted together with him, according to your personal opinion as a soldier, not as a legal man, had made themselves guilty of mutiny or revolt. Are you convinced that this conception of law of yours was also shared by your superiors, not only by your collaborators but by your superiors, or did you, at that time or later on, hear any kind of counter opinion on the part of your superiors?
A. What I heard from my superior officers rather went along the lines which I have already stated today, that I did not intervene enough, that is, that I was much too lenient. Also among the superiors, the army group or the OKW, there was only the one idea - that the whole thing was a revolt or mutiny. All the orders which I received, or which I can remember, talked about the revolting Italians and of insurgents and similar things. The opinion which I have mentioned here was, without doubt, fundamentally the same as that of my superior officers.
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Having been reminded of the significance of an affidavit and of the consequences of a false affidavit made knowingly or negligently, I herewith declare upon oath the following for submission to Military Tribunal V.
1. Ad Personam: My name is Wolf Christian von Loeben; I was born on 1/26/1914 in Bautzen; I live in Bremen Metzerstrasse 18, c/o Lange; and I am a German citizen.
2. Ad Rem: The following statements refer to my official position of operational staff officer (Ia) of the XXII Mountain Corps during the period from 8/24/1943 until 6/25/1944.
As to the events in Cephalonia, I make the following statement:
Owing to a case of papadaci-fever, I did not arrive from Athens at the Ioannina headquarters of the XXII Mountain Corps until 9/13/1943. At that time the situation in western Greece was about as follows:
The Italian forces in Epirus had complied with the orders given by the 8th Italian Army and the Italian corps headquarters and laid down arms, which was done without any incident. Solely the Italian division "Acqui" under General Gandin, which was stationed on the isles of Corfu and Cephalonia, refused to surrender these islands to the German forces stationed there. General Lanz had left by plane for Cephalonia on the morning of 9/13/1943 in order to make arrangements for the surrender through a personal discussion with General Gandin.
Late in the afternoon of 9/13/1943 General Lanz returned from Cephalonia with the following result:
His plane, in the process of landing, had been fired upon by Italian troops and therefore been forced to land in another place. He had been able to speak to General Gandin on the telephone from the command post of the German island commander, Lieutenant Colonel Barge, at Lixuri.
General Gandin, who alleged not having received so far any clear orders, requested an order from General Lanz for the surrender of the island, which was thereupon given to him and with which he promised to comply. General Lanz was thoroughly convinced that the surrender of the island would be effected without further incident and had given Lieutenant Colonel Barge directives accordingly.
Contrary to expectation, however, General Gandin did not accomplish the surrender of the island at the fixed time. He managed to put off the German island commander for a day or two by cleverly-conducted negotiations, finally declared that he no longer had his officers under control, and launched a sudden attack against the two German fortress battalions stationed on the island, placing them in an extremely difficult position.
About 9/15/1943, after having discussed the matter with the chief of staff of the corps headquarters Colonel Dietel, General Lanz decided to land on Cephalonia, hastily assembled elements of the 1st Mountain Division and the 104th Light Division under the command of Major von Hirschfeld with the task to relieve the German garrison of the island, and to have the latter occupied by German forces. Upon landing on Cephalonia, Major von Hirschfeld was appointed German island commander and Lieutenant Colonel Barge was placed under his command. During the fighting, which resulted in heavy losses on both sides, the Italian forces offering resistance in the northern part of the island were defeated in the following days, without causing General Gandin's surrender. General Lanz after that went to Cephalonia again to initiate further measures. Since signal communications between the island (Major von Hirschfeld) and the mainland (corps headquarters) were extremely poor - there was but one radio at the disposal of the still inadequately organized corps headquarters - General Lanz left an officer of corp headquarters, Major Zeidler, on Cephalonia with the task to keep corps headquarters well informed about the happenings.
Shortly afterwards, the decisive attack on the southern part of the island began, which ended with the occupation of the capital Argostolion and the capture of General Gandin, his staff, and a the body of Italian troops. As far as I remember, General Gandin's chief of staff, who was the chief organizer of the fight against the German forces, was killed in the course of the last engagements.
During the days of the fighting, General Lanz had received radio or teletype, via the army group, a "Fuehrer order" to the effect that all Italians on Cephalonia who had taken up arms against the German forces were to be shot. Telephone communications between the army group and corps headquarters were not yet existent at that time. General Lanz, who was greatly excited over this order, sent, as far as I remember, a teletype to the army group with the request to bring about at higher headquarters a cancellation of this order, recommending that only the guilty persons should be held responsible. Thereupon, a new "Fuehrer order" was received, saying that all the Italian offices were to be shot. General Lanz, in my presence and in the face of the chief of staff, voiced his opinion on this in a very sharp form, and declared: "Being a decent soldier, I cannot be expected to carry out such an order. I shall not carry out this order".
After the fighting on Cephalonia had ended, General Lanz immediately left for Argostolion again, in order to discuss with Major von Hirschfeld the occupation of the island, as well as the concentration and the evacuation of the captured Italians. As far as I remember, he charged the commander of the 1st Mountain Division, General von Stettner and Major von Hirschfeld [The adjutant of Major von Hirschfeld, Kurt Hepp, gave an affidavit affirming many of the statements in this affidavit by von Loeben, which was offered in evidence as Document Lanz 194, Lanz Exhibit 181.] with investigating the events at the Italian divisional staff. This investigation completed, General Gandin and several of his officers were shot according to martial law [standrechtlich erschossen].
I declare upon oath that the foregoing statements are correct.
[Signed] W. C. Loeben
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Festungsgrenadierregiment 966 (Festungsgrenadierbataillone 909 und 910)
2./Sturmartillerieabteilung 201 – Batteriechef (Battery Commander) Oberleutnant Fauth
Plus after September 8th, 1943
III./Gebirgsjägerregiment 98 (1. Gebirgsdivision) – (Commander) Major von Hirschfeld
I./Jägerregiment 724 (104. Jägerdivision)
Gebirgsjägerbataillon 54 (1. Gebirgsdivision)
Source: Gert Fricke, Das Unternehmen des XXII. Gebirgsarmeekorpsgegen die Inseln Kefalonia und Korfu im Rahmen des Falles »Achse« (September 1943) - Ein Dokumentarbericht (Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen 1967, n. 1)
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... pened.html
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It is a website dealing with the massacre of the Acqui Division in the Ionian Isles in 1943. It is the brainchild of Massimo Filippini, a lawyer and retired Italian Air Force officer whose father, Maggiore Federico Filippini, is himself a victim of the atrocity.
The pages detail the facts, inquiries and trials from the early days, and contain a very large press release.
Filippini Jr. maintains that the official version on the Cefalonia massacre (the unanimous vote of all officers and men for the fight against the Germans) was a façade conceived in the immediate postwar period to hide the responsibility of actual culprits for political reasons: some junior officers with sympathies for the ELAS communist underground movement and disobeyed General Antonio Gandin's orders by first firing on the Germans. In fact, the whole Division was plunged into battle by the Comando Supremo in Brindisi, which wired the order to fight despite the obvious impossibility to provide any back-up or reinforcements while the rest of the Italian military was coming apart.
After the war, the mutineers proclaimed themselves "partisans" (in a time, September 1943, when the Italian Resistance movement was still to come) to censor that, while Greek guerrillas vanished after they'd been given Italian rifles, various hundreds of Italians stayed on the island as German "collaborators" for over a year; they were repatriated after the Wehrmacht evacuated Cefalonia in Fall 1944.
Also, the webmaster does not spare criticisms to most of the fictional literature, movies and TV series inspired by the historical facts, and also tackles the issue of the casualty count. Despite being officially reported in various occasions as 10,000 (more than the full complement of the Division), 8000 (i.e. the full complement with no survivors), or 5000, a more recent enquiry of his own shows that the number of dead, wounded or missing is much lower.
He is very willing to communicate with visitors and to send any of his books to anybody who requests it. Both the website and the books are entirely in Italian language.
The books can be ordered directly from the publisher (IBN) through this address: info at ibneditore.it