IMT - Anti-partisan warfare testimony of Erich von dem Bach

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IMT - Anti-partisan warfare testimony of Erich von dem Bach

Post by David Thompson » 29 Mar 2005 23:50

This is the testimony of SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Erich von dem Bach[-Zelewski], given 7 Jan 1946 at the IMT proceedings. It can be found in the IMT proceedings, vol. 4, pp. 474-495, available on-line from The Avalon Project at:

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/imt.htm

474

7 Jan. 46

Afternoon Session

COL. TAYLOR: Will Your Lordship swear the witness?

THE PRESIDENT: What is his name?

COL. TAYLOR: Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski.

[The witness, Von dem Bach-Zelewski, took the stand.]

THE PRESIDENT: What is your name?

ERICH VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI (Witness): Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you take this oath: "I swear by God -- the Almighty and Omniscient -- that I will speak the pure truth -- and will withhold and add nothing." [The witness repeated the oath.]

COL. TAYLOR: May I remind the witness to speak very slowly, and to keep his answers as short as possible? Can you hear me?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL. TAYLOR: Were you a member of the SS?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL. TAYLOR: What was the last rank you held in the SS?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: SS Obergruppenfuehrer and General of the Waffen-SS.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you serve in the 1914-18 war?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes. I was at the front from 1914 to 1918, was wounded twice, and received the Iron Cross, First and Second Class.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you remain in the army after the end of the last war?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, I stayed in the 100,000-man army.

COL. TAYLOR: How long did you remain in the army?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Till 1924, when I took my discharge.

COL. TAYLOR: Did your military activities then stop?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, I was battalion leader in the Border Defense, and subsequently I took part in maneuvers with the Wehrmacht until the campaign against
Poland.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you join the Nazi Party?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL. TAYLOR: In what year?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: In the year 1930.

475

7 Jan. 46

COL. TAYLOR: What branch of the party did you join?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The Allgemeine-SS.

COL. TAYLOR: What were your activities in the SS prior to the outbreak of the war?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I established the Allgemeine-SS Border Defense in the districts of Schneidemuhl and Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, and from, 1934 I was Oberabschnittsfuehrer in East Prussia and afterwards in Silesia.

COL. TAYLOR: Were you a member of the Reichstag during this period?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, I was a member of the Reichstag from 1932 right up to the end.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you take any active part during this war, before the campaign against the Soviet Union?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, not before the campaign against Russia.

COL. TAYLOR: What was your rank at the beginning of the war?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: At the beginning of the war I was SS Gruppenfuehrer and lieutenant general.

COL. TAYLOR: And when were you promoted?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I was promoted on 9 November 1941 to SS Obergruppenfuehrer and general of the Waffen-SS.

COL. TAYLOR: What was your position after the beginning of the campaign against the Soviet Union?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Would you please repeat the question; it was not quite clear.

COL. TAYLOR: What was your position, your function, at the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: At the beginning of the campaign against Russia I served as Higher SS and Police Leader in the central sector of the Russian Front, in the rear zone of Army Group Center.

COL. TAYLOR: Was there a similar SS official in the rear zone of each army group?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, in each army group, North, Center, and South, there was a Higher SS and Police Leader.

COL. TAYLOR: Who was the commander of Army Group Center?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The commander of Army Group Center was, in the beginning, General Field Marshal Von Bock, and later General Field Marshal Kluge.

COL. TAYLOR: Who was the Armed Forces commander in the rear zone of Army Group Center?

476

7 Jan. 46

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: General of the Infantry Von Schenkendorff.

COL. TAYLOR: Was he directly subordinate to the commander of the army group?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL. TAYLOR: Who was your immediate superior in the SS?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Heinrich Himmler.

COL. TAYLOR: And who was your immediate superior in the rear zone of the army?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: General Von Schenkendorff.

COL. TAYLOR: What was your principal task as Higher SS and Police Leader in central Russia?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: My principal task was fighting partisans.

COL. TAYLOR: Are you generally familiar with the operations of the so-called Einsatzgruppen of the SD?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL. TAYLOR: Did these units play any important part in large scale anti-Russian operations?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No.

COL.TAYLOR: What was the principal task of the Einsatzgruppen?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The principal task of the Einsatzgruppen of the Sicherheitspolizei was the annihilation of the Jews, gypsies, and political commissars.

COL. TAYLOR: Then what forces were used for large-scale antipartisan operations?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: For anti-partisan activities formations of the Waffen-SS, of the Ordnungspolizei, and above all, of the Wehrmacht were used.

COL. TAYLOR: Please describe the nature of these regular army units that were used for anti-partisan operations.

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: These units of the Wehrmacht were composed, in the first place, of the security divisions in the rear zone, just behind the battle front; then there were the so-called Landesschutzen battalions which were independent units under the orders of the Wehrmacht commanders; and there were also Wehrmacht formations used for the defense of certain installations such as railways and landing grounds and other military objectives. Moreover, as from 1943 or 1942, there were the so-called "alarm units" composed of formations in the rear zone.

477

7 Jan. 46

COL. TAYLOR: Until what date did you remain Higher SS and Police Leader for central Russia?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I was Higher SS and Police Leader for central Russia until the end of 1942, with occasional interruptions when I was at the front and with one interval of about 6 months when I had an illness. At the end of 1942 I was appointed Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units.

COL.TAYLOR: Was this position of Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units created specially for you?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL. TAYLOR: To whom were you directly subordinate in this new capacity?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Heinrich Himmler.

COL. TAYLOR: Were your functions in this new capacity restricted to any particular part of the Eastern Front?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No. My sphere of activity comprised the entire Eastern zone.

COL. TAYLOR: What was the general nature of your duties as Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: First of all, I had to establish an intelligence center at Himmler's headquarters to which all reports in connection with partisan activities were dispatched, where they were evaluated, and then forwarded to the competent authorities.

COL. TAYLOR: In the course of your duties did you confer with the commanders of army groups and armies on the Eastern Front?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: With the commanders of the army groups, not of the armies, and with the district commanders of the Wehrmacht.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you advise these commanders with respect to the methods which should be employed to combat partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL.TAYLOR: Will you name some of the commanders with whom you personally conferred?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I am quoting from memory, without giving a complete list: General of Cavalry Bremer, Wehrmacht commander in the East; General Field Marshal Kuechler, commanding general of Army Group North; the commanding generals of Army Group Center, Kluge and Busch; the Wehrmacht commander in the Ukraine, General of the Luftwaffe Kitzinger; General Field Marshal Freiherr van Weichs, commanding general in Serbia, at Belgrade; and General Kugler, Wehrmacht commander in the Trieste area.

478

7 Jan. 46

COL. TAYLOR: What proportion of Wehrmacht troops was used in anti-partisan operations as compared to Police and SS troops?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Since the number of Police and SS troops was very small, anti-partisan operations were undertaken mainly by Wehrmacht formations.

COL.TAYLOR: Were the anti-partisan troops usually commanded by Wehrmacht officers or by SS officers?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: It varied, depending mostly on the individual area; in the operational areas Wehrmacht officers nearly always commanded, but an order existed to the effect that the formation, be it Wehrmacht, Waffen-SS or Police, which supplied the most troops for a particular operation, had command of it.

COL. TAYLOR: Did the highest military leaders issue instructions that anti-partisan operations were to be conducted with severity?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL.TAYLOR: Did the highest military authorities issue any detailed instructions as to the methods to be used in anti-partisan operations?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No.

COL. TAYLOR: What was the result, in the occupied territories, of this lack of detailed directives from above?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: This lack of detailed directives resulted in a wild state of anarchy in all anti-partisan operations.

COL.TAYLOR: In your opinion, were the measures taken in anti-partisan operations far more severe than the circumstances warranted, or were they not?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Since there were no definite orders and the lower commanders were forced to act independently, the operations varied according to the character of the officer in command and the quality of the troops. I am of the opinion that the operations often not only failed in their purpose but even overshot their mark.

COL. TAYLOR: Did these measures result in the unnecessary killing of large numbers of the civilian population?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL. TAYLOR: Did you report these excessive measures to the commanders of the army groups and other Wehrmacht officers with whom you worked?
VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: This state of affairs was generally known. There was no necessity to make a special report about it, since every operation had immediately to be reported in all detail, and was known to every responsible leader.

479

7 Jan. 46


COL. TAYLOR: Were any effective steps taken by the higher military authorities or by the commanders of army groups to stop these excesses?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I remember that General Von Schenkendorff in particular made innumerable reports in this connection and discussed them with me; both of us forwarded them through our service channels.

COL. TAYLOR: Did these reports by General Von Schenkendorff have any effect?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No.

COL. TAYLOR: Why not?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Quartermaster General Wagner certainly attempted to effect a change by suggesting that more rigid supervision be imposed on the troops, but he did not succeed in his purpose.

COL. TAYLOR: Was an order ever issued by the highest authorities, that German soldiers who committed offenses against the civilian population were not to be punished in the military courts?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, this order was issued.

COL.TAYLOR: Was this order an obstacle to correcting the excesses of the troops?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, in my opinion this order prevented the orderly conduct of operations, since one can train troops only if one has adequate disciplinary powers and jurisdiction over them and is able to check excesses.

COL. TAYLOR: What decorations did you win during the war?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: In this war I received the clusters to the Iron Cross I and II, the German Cross in gold, and the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross.

COL. TAYLOR: Your Lordship, the witness is available for examination by others.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the Soviet Prosecutor wish to ask any questions?

COL. POKROVSKY: With your permission, I wish to ask a series of questions. [Turning to the witness.] What forces of the Police and SS were at your disposal in 1941 and 1942, when you were Chief of the Police and SS in the rear zone of Army Group Center?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Directly under my command in 1941 were one police regiment of the Regular Police, and occasionally, for about 2 or 3 months at a time, one SS cavalry brigade.

480

7 Jan. 46

COL. POKROVSKY: Was the Einsatzgruppe B. headed by Nebe, under your command?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No.

COL. POKROVSKY: Did you or did you not receive Nebe's reports?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Not directly, but I managed to see them.

COL. POKROVSKY: What do you know of the activities of Einsatzgruppe B?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Einsatzgruppe B was located in Smolensk, and operated in precisely the same way as all the other Einsatzgruppen. One heard everywhere in conversation that the Jews were being rounded up and sent to ghettos.

COL. POKROVSKY: Did you report to the commands of the operational groups on the activities of Einsatzgruppe B?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I asked for information on the activities of Einsatzgruppe B directly through Schenkendorff, from the I. C. of Army Group Center.

COL. POKROVSKY: Did you know of the order issued by the commander of the 6th Army, General Reichenau, regarding the partisan movement?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Would you be good enough to repeat the name; was it General Von Reichenau?

COL. POKROVSKY: Yes.

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, I know of that. I think it was in 1941, but I am not certain -- it might have been in 1942 -- when General Von Reichenau sent to all the Wehrmacht commanders an order approving the actions taken against the Jews and partisans.

COL. POKROVSKY: In 1943 or later were there, under your command, units or companies specially selected to combat the partisan movement?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: In 1943, as Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units, I had no direct authority to issue orders, since I was head of the central office, but I did lead some operations wherever the authority of two commanders overlapped.

COL. POKROVSKY: Do you know anything about the existence of a special brigade consisting of smugglers, poachers, and persons released from prison?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: When all the troops really suitable for anti-partisan
warfare had been withdrawn, an anti-partisan battalion under the command of
Dirlewanger was formed and

481

7 Jan. 46

attached to Army Group Center at the end of 1941 or the beginning of 1942. This battalion was gradually strengthened by the addition of reserve units until it reached the proportions, first, of a regiment and, later, of a brigade. This "Dirlewanger Brigade" consisted for the most part of previously convicted criminals; officially it consisted of so-called poachers, but it did include real criminals convicted of burglary, murder, et cetera.

COL. POKROVSKY: How do you explain the fact that the German Army Command so willingly strengthened and increased its forces by adding criminals to them and then using these criminals against the partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I am of the opinion that this step was closely connected with a speech made by Heinrich Himmler at Wewelsburg at the beginning of 1941, prior to the campaign against Russia, when he spoke of the purpose of the Russian campaign, which was, he said, to decimate the Slav population by 30 million, and that it was in order to achieve this purpose that troops of such inferior caliber were introduced.

COL. POKROVSKY: Is it correct then to say that the character of the troops used by the commanders to fight the partisans had been given careful consideration? Did they receive precise instructions how to treat the population and how to fight against the partisans? I am now referring to the proposed and officially sanctioned extermination of the population.

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, I think this purpose was a decisive factor in the selection of certain commanders and formations.

COL. POKROVSKY: By what means and by what measures were Wehrmacht units brought in to fight the partisans? Were they specially recruited or were they used from time to time according to some set plan?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I think that on the whole there was no definite set plan. So-called large-scale operations were initiated, planned, and executed by headquarters. Anti-partisan fighting, however, was mostly of a spontaneous nature, since every lower commander was obliged to keep his own area free of partisans and thus had to act on his own initiative.

COL. POKROVSKY: You said that in very many cases generals and officers of the Wehrmacht personally headed the operations against the partisans. Can you give us some concrete facts and the names of some of the generals and officers?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I didn't fully understand the meaning of the question.
The names of commanders?

482

7 Jan. 46

COL. POKROVSKY: You have told us that certain operations during the struggle against the partisans were conducted by officers and generals of the Wehrmacht, and I now ask you if you can name some of the officers and generals?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, some of the generals I have already mentioned. In addition I remember Major General Hartmann, in central Russia. One large-scale anti-partisan operation was either led by him or at least directed by him from his headquarters. I also remember Colonel General Reinhardt in whose rear zone there were important partisan groups. I might even say that there was not a single general in the rear zone who did not participate in the struggle against the partisans. I cannot, of course, remember all the names; but if I hear them mentioned, I can tell you whether or not they participated.

COL. POKROVSKY: Could you tell us what undertaking was commanded by General Ackmann?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, I cannot remember that.

COL. POKROVSKY: Were there any general orders relating to prisoners of war, the civilian population, or the partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Unfortunately there were no general instructions which clearly stated how the partisans or the population were to be treated. That was the complaint I made: That no instruction was issued on the treatment of the partisans and that we were not even told who was to be considered a partisan. When anything happened and the German Wehrmacht was attacked, there were never clear orders on what was to be done by way of reprisals.

COL. POKROVSKY: Am I to understand that in the absence of direct orders commanders were given a clear field and had the right to declare any person they wished a partisan and treat him accordingly?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The commanders certainly had to and could act and decide independently. No precise control was possible in individual cases, but the activities of all the troops used were always clearly known to the High Command; because the individual reports of the troops contained all details of the counter measures taken against the partisans-that is, they had to contain the number of partisans killed in combat, the number of partisans shot, of partisan suspects shot, and the number of our own losses. At the same time captured weapons had to be listed in detail, so that each leader could therefore see clearly how an operation worked out in practice.

COL. POKROVSKY: That means that each commander decided for himself whether there was any reason to suspect a man and to execute him?

483

7 Jan. 48

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL. POKROVSKY: Do you know of any order prescribing the seizure of hostages and the burring of villages as a reprisal for abetting the partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No. I do not think that written orders to that effect were ever issued, and it is precisely this lack of any orders which I considered a mistake. It should, for instance, have been definitely stated how many people could be executed as a reprisal for the killing of one, or of 10 German soldiers.

COL. POKROVSKY: Am I to understand that if certain commanders burned villages as a punitive measure against the local population, they, the commanders, would be acting on their own initiative?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes. These steps would be taken by a commander on his own initiative. Nor could his superior officers do anything against it, since orders emanating from the highest authorities definitely stated that if excesses were committed against the civilian population in the partisan areas, no disciplinary or juridical measures could be taken.

COL. POKROVSKY: And can we assume that the same applied to the seizure of hostages?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Well, I think that the question of hostages did not arise at all in the anti-partisan struggle. The hostage system was more common in the West. At any rate the term '`hostage" was not used in anti-partisan warfare.

COL. POKROVSKY: Do you know anything about the forcible abduction and deportation to Germany of minors between 14 and 18 years of age?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Naturally, I do not remember details such as the age groups, but when I was appointed Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units, I welcomed an order, issued at my suggestion, forbidding indiscriminate reprisals of the troops and decreeing that in future captured partisans and partisan suspects would no longer be shot but would be brought to the Reich by the Sauckel organization.

COL. POKROVSKY: If I understood you correctly, you replied to a question of my colleague, the American Prosecutor, by saying that the struggle against the partisan movement was a pretext for destroying the Slav and Jewish population?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

COL. POKROVSKY: Was the Wehrmacht Command aware of the methods adopted for fighting the partisan movement and for destroying the Jewish population?

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7 Jan. 46

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The methods were known generally, and hence to the military leaders as well. I do not, of course, know whether they were aware of the plan mentioned by Himmler.

COL. POKROVSKY: Did you personally take part in any conferences with generals of the Wehrmacht during which the methods of anti-partisan warfare were clearly and plainly discussed?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The methods as such were discussed in detail and knowledge of them was taken for granted, but it was not mentioned at these discussions that such and such a number of persons were to be shot. That would be a wrong conclusion.

COL. POKROVSKY: You have told us that the Germans intended to destroy the Slav population in order to reduce the number of Slavs to 30 million. Where did you get this figure and this order?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I must correct that: Not to reduce to 30 million, but by 30 million. Himmler mentioned this figure in his speech at the Wewelsburg.

COL. POKROVSKY: Do you confirm the fact that actually all the measures carried out by the German commanders and by the Wehrmacht in the occupied Russian territories were directed to the sole purpose of reducing the number of Slavs and Jews by 30 million?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The meaning of that is not quite clear to me. Did the Wehrmacht know that the Slav population was to be diminished by 30 million? Would you please repeat the question, it wasn't quite clear?

COL. POKROVSKY: I asked: Can you actually and truthfully confirm that the measures taken by the Wehrmacht Command in the district administrative areas then occupied by the Germans were directed to the purpose of diminishing the Slavs and Jews by 30 million? Do you now understand the question?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I believe that these methods would definitely have resulted in the extermination of 30 million if they had been continued, and if developments of that time had not completely changed the situation.

COL. POKROVSKY: I have no further questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the Defense have any questions?

DR. EXNER: Witness, you said you were chief of anti-partisan operations, didn't you?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units.

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7 Jan. 46

DR. EXNER: Well, if such chaotic conditions really existed, why didn't you alter the system?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Because I was never given the requisite authority.

DR. EXNER: I beg your pardon?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Because I was never given authority. I. could not issue orders, I had no disciplinary powers, and I was not an appointing authority for military courts.

DR. EXNER: Then did you make a report on the existing conditions to your superior officers?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Every day. I had a permanent staff at Himmler's headquarters.

DR. EXNER: Did you suggest any changes?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Persistently.

DR. EXNER: And why were these changes never realized?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I think I have already expressed myself quite clearly on this point: because I think that these changes were not desired.

DR.EXNER: You also, as you have informed us, reported to your superior authorities on the number of enemy dead, wounded, and prisoners after each operation. Tell me what, approximately, was the proportion of enemy prisoners to the enemy dead?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The figures varied in each case. I cannot generalize, but it was a fact that prisoners usually far outnumbered the enemy dead.

DR. EXNER: The prisoners outnumbered the dead?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, but only in the years after the order allowing prisoners to be taken.

DR.EXNER: The system was harsher at first, you say, and milder later on?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, it was milder insofar as we now had definite orders stating where the prisoners were to be brought and to whom they were to be turned over. There were no such orders in the beginning.

DR. EXNER: Can you name any orders which you received from military authorities, dealing in any way with the annihilation of millions of Slavs?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I already gave my answer to that question to the prosecutor when I said that a written order to that effect did not exist.

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DR. EXNER: Do you know that the reports which you sent to Himmler on the actions which you had carried out were submitted by Himmler directly to the Fuehrer?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: May I reply to that in some detail? At first I had a permanent staff at Himmler's headquarters. My chief of staff was there permanently while I was at the front. Between the Wehrmacht offices -- that is, OKW and OKH -- and my own staff there was constant and organized interchange of reports, for reports on partisan activities did not always reach me first, since from some operational areas the channel for reports was through the OKH. Therefore the Wehrmacht sent me as many reports as I sent to the Wehrmacht. These reports were collected in my staff, and were daily sent to Himmler who forwarded them again.

DR. EXNER: To whom?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The gentlemen of the Wehrmacht have confirmed to me, here in prison, that these reports were submitted during strategic conferences.

DR. EXNER: Can you tell me whether Jews participated in the partisan groups?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: There is no question but that in individual partisan groups Jews did participate, in numbers corresponding to the size of the Jewish population.

DR. EXNER: In individual groups? Was it not more in the nature of an exception?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, it was definitely an exception.

DR. EXNER: That is why I do not quite understand how actions taken against the partisans were to lead to the extermination of the Jews.

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I did not say that; I was speaking earlier of the Einsatzgruppen of the Sicherheitspolizei.

DR. EXNER: Oh, I see, that is different. Do you know anything about the Dirlewanger regiment?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: That was the Dirlewanger Brigade, which I described in detail to the prosecutor a short time ago.

DR.EXNER: Yes. Was that brigade at any time under your command?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, in 1941.

DR. EXNER: Was it a formation of the Army or the SS?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, it was not a formation of the Waffen-SS; it was supplied by the Allgemeine SS, that is, by the Berger office.

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DR.EXNER: Can you tell me who was present at Himmler's speech at the Wewelsburg?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: About 12 Gruppenfuehrer were present, I can name them if you like.

DR. EXNER: You mean Gruppenfuehrer . . .

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Gruppenfuehrer of the SS.

DR. EXNER: Were any officers of the Wehrmacht present?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No.

DR. EXNER: Thank you very much.

DR.KRAUS: You were present in Konigsberg on the 18th of August 1935 when the former President of the Reichsbank, Schacht, made a speech at the Eastern Fair (Ostmesse)?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

DR. KRAUS: What was your position at that time?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I was Oberabschnittsfuehrer.

DR.KRAUS: Were you present at the speech in your official capacity?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, as Oberabschnittsfuehrer of the SS.

DR.KRAUS: And you suddenly left the room in the middle of the speech, as a protest?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, in the middle of the speech I left the room.

DR. KRAUS: In protest?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

DR. KRAUS: Then you did not agree with the speech?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I did not leave on account of the speech but as a protest.

DR. KRAUS: As a protest against the contents of the speech?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No.

DR. KRAUS: May I ask, then, why you protested?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: It is well known that in East Prussia I conducted a violent campaign against the then Gauleiter Koch, which led to his suspension. Koch and I were bitterly opposed and I could not therefore understand why Reich Minister Schacht, who God knows did not belong to Koch's school of thought, should take pains to pay compliments to this man, whom I knew to be corrupt.

DR.KRAUS: Were you protesting, then, against the attitude of Herr Schacht or that of Herr Koch?

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VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I think Herr Schacht must have known that it was a protest against Koch. In any case I had it explained to him later, and we finally settled the matter amicably through mediators.

DR. KRAUS: I see. Thank you.

DR.SERVATIUS: Witness, you said that a change was made regarding the treatment of partisans, and that it was ordered that the partisans were to be placed into the labor service. Where did this order originate?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I cannot give you detailed information about this, I only know that Herr Sauckel himself went around in the East and made long speeches to the effect that it would be best if these men who were captured in partisan warfare were placed in the labor service through his organization.

DR.SERVATIUS: I asked where this order originated. Did it originate with Himmler or, as you described it, with the Sauckel organization?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No. The Sauckel organization could, of course, never issue orders relating to partisan warfare. I presume that the Sauckel organization suggested the order, but of course it had to originate with Himmler or the OKW.

DR.SERVATIUS: What do you know of the Sauckel organization? Where did it exist?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I know only what was generally known: namely, that this organization existed for the purpose of bringing manpower into the Reich for work in the armament industry.

DR.SERVATIUS: You spoke of an organization; but you don't know anything about this organization, do you?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, I don't mean it in your sense, a large independent organization; that is not what I mean. But it was obvious that a man who was responsible for the whole of manpower must have an organization at his disposal I beg your pardon, it was a mistake on my part.

DR.SERVATIUS: Then you do not know that Sauckel had no executive power at all and that he was not provided with an administrative machine of his own.

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, I don't know that.

THE PRESIDENT: I want the attention of the defendants' counsel. What I want to say is this, that unless counsel and the witnesses speak slowly and make adequate pauses between the questions and the answers, it is impossible for the interpreters to interpret properly, and the only result is that the questions and answers do not

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come through to the Tribunal, nor do the defendants' counsel get the benefit of the true meaning of the answers which have been given in the examination-in-chief, and everything that you may think you gain by rapidity of cross-examination, you lose by the inadequacy of the translation. I will repeat, that you should pause at the end of your sentences and at the end of your questions, so as to give the interpreter's voice time to come through.


DR. STAHMER: Witness, you said that from 1942 onwards you were Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units. As such, it was your duty to fight the partisans in the East?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, that is correct, in the East.

DR. STAHMER: Now, you said that it was not quite clear what was to be understood by the term "partisan"; the concept of "partisan" was never during the entire period clearly defined. Is that correct?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, the sense of that is correct. In my opinion a distinction should be drawn between partisans and partisan suspects. The troops did not always make this distinction. A partisan was a man carefully selected and trained by the enemy. He was also very well armed. I always insisted that this concept was not vague, but concrete. If fire is opened from a wood, a house, or a village, it is not correct to say that everyone in the wood, house, or village for this reason: The tactics of the partisans were to disappear rapidly after a successful action; they relied on the element of surprise inherent in this method of warfare. If the troops took their counter measures without being specially trained and without exact knowledge of this concept of "partisan," then they would conclude from the fact that they had been fired on from a village, that all the inhabitants were partisans. In my view, a partisan can be considered as such only if he is encountered or captured with a weapon in his hand. If he has no weapon, he cannot be considered a partisan.

DR.STAHMER: Now, what did you do in a positive way to clarify this concept of "partisan"?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: As I have already said, ever since 1941, even before I was Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units, not only I but also General Von Schenkendorff, continually sent numbers of memoranda containing suggestions. Moreover, in the Russian Army Group Center, for instance, we organized schools for fighting partisans, where the troops were to be trained along these lines. Schenkendorff and I, together, worked out a series of regulations for fighting partisans, but they were never published. Immediately after I was appointed Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units, that is, in the beginning of 1943, my staff began to prepare

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a new series of regulations for fighting partisans. Many months passed, however, before these regulations were finally published, in 1944, when they were already practically useless.

DR. STAHMER: Who issued these regulations?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: These regulations were published by the Wehrmacht, in the form of an ordinary Wehrmacht directive.

DR. STAHMER: They were issued by the Wehrmacht?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: They came out in 1944.

DR. STAHMER: What were their contents?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: They were entitled, Regulations for the Fighting of Partisans (Bandenkampfvorschrift).

DR. STAHMER: What were their contents?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: They comprised the whole of partisan warfare; thus they contained reconnaissance, operational details, differences between small-scale, medium-scale, and largescale operations.

DR. STAHMER: Since these partisan combat regulations did not appear before 1944, was it not your task, as you had all anti-partisan forces in the whole East, to instruct your forces directly on their conduct?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: In the first place, as I have said, I had no authority to issue orders. Consequently, I could only make suggestions. Secondly, closely organized anti-partisan forces never existed; it was an empty name which they were given. Any kind and number of formations would be assigned for anti-partisan warfare whenever necessary. It is wrong to say that I had troops at my disposal for the sole purpose of fighting the partisans. Moreover- and I should like to emphasize that-the document appointing me Chief of Anti-Partisan Combat Units stated as follows: Anti-partisan operations will be commanded either by the Higher SS and Police Officer, or the competent Wehrmacht commander in their respective areas. According to that directive, my own task was only that of an inspector, in spite of my continuous request for authority to issue orders.

DR. STAHMER: I don't quite understand . . .

THE PRESIDENT: You must go slowly and you must pause between your sentences.

DR. STAHMER: As general of the Waffen-SS you must have had power to issue orders?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I had authority only to issue orders when I personally conducted an operation.

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DR.STAHMER: But you were appointed, as you said, to fight the partisans and you must have had combat units for the purpose?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, I had no such units.

DR. STAHMER: Then how did you conduct your fight against the partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: In each case, I went to the respective commander, discussed the operation with him and asked for the necessary troops, unless they were put at my disposal, as it often happened, by the OKW or the OKH directly.

DR. STAHMER: You asked for troops, unless they were put at your disposal. But then these troops assigned to you were under your command, were they not?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, only if I personally commanded the operation. Otherwise, as I said, either the competent general of the Wehrmacht or, in the area of the civil government, the higher SS and police Leader commanded the operation. It was expressly noted in the directive containing my appointment as Chief of the Anti-Partisan Combat Units, that I could request authority to command an operation only if the authority of two higher SS and police leaders or of two Wehrmacht commanders overlapped, thus calling for a higher authority to handle the conflicting responsibilities.

DR. STAHMER: Did you never personally command an operation?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, I conducted one operation in 1943.

DR. STAHMER: In what way?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: This undertaking took place in the fall of 1943, in the region of Idrizza Polotsk. I first flew to the Army Group Center and talked the matter over with the then chief, General Krebs. Then I went on to Army Group North and discussed the same matter with Field Marshal Kuechler. Kuechler organized all the troops of the SS and Police and also the Wehrmacht formations in the rear areas into a so-called corps under the command of Jaeckel. The Army Group Center did the same with its own forces, and also formed a corps under the command of the Higher SS and Police Leader in the area. I myself, with my staff, was in command of both, and Colonel Von Mellenthin of the OKH was assigned to me as liaison officer. Then I conducted the enterprise personally. In the meantime the front had been broken through in foggy weather, and I made the independent decision of turning against the Red Army forces which had broken through; thus my units became the front line.

DR. STAHMER: You said a little while ago that you had been decorated with the Knight's Cross. Did you receive this decoration for this undertaking alone?

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VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, as I said before, I was already at the front in the year 1941. Again and again I was with the fighting units: In 1941 at Moscow, in 1942 at Velikie-Luki, and later at Koebel, at Warsaw during the uprising in Warsaw; and from 1944 onwards I commanded an SS corps.

DR. STAHMER: Did you not know that you were particularly commended by Hitler and Himmler and decorated mainly for your ruthless and efficient actions in the war against the partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No. I received no decoration for the war against the partisans. I received all my decorations, beginning with the clusters to the Iron Cross II, at the front and from the Wehrmacht. I will gladly give you names.

DR.STAHMER: The Brigade Dirlewanger was an SS brigade, wasn't it?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: The Brigade Dirlewanger did not belong to the Waffen-SS. It was an organization which could possibly be classified as part of the Allgemeine-SS. It was not supplied and kept up by the Waffen-SS, but by the Berger office.

DR. STAHMER: Was the commander of the Brigade Dirlewanger a member of the SS?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

DR.STAHMER: Didn't you yourself suggest that criminals should be organized and used for fighting the partisans?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No.

DR. THOMA: Witness, do you know that the civil government in White Ruthenia often protested against the manner in which the anti-partisan activities were carried on?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

DR. THOMA: The civil authority was subordinate to the Reich Commissioner, and he in turn was subordinate to Rosenberg as Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, is that correct?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

DR. THOMA: If I understood you correctly, you disapproved of the manner in which the fighting against partisans was carried on, involving many innocent people; and you disapproved also of the existence of the Dirlewanger Regiment and of the speech of Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes.

DR. THOMA: How could you then reconcile it with your conscience to remain chief or inspector of anti-partisan units and also head of such Einsatzgruppen?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I was never chief of Einsatzgruppen.

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THE PRESIDENT: The question had not come through then on the interpreter's voice before you began to answer. You must give greater pauses between the question and answer.

DR. THOMA: How did you reconcile it with your conscience to remain inspector of the anti-partisan forces in the East?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Not only could I reconcile that with my conscience, but I actually strove to obtain this position because in the years 1941 and 1942 I saw, together with Schenkendorff, that things could not continue as they were. General Schenkendorff, my immediate superior, recommended me for the position.

DR. THOMA: But you knew that you could not achieve anything with these suggestions?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No, I couldn't know that. What I realize and acknowledge today, I could not possibly have known then.

DR. THOMA: At any rate, you achieved nothing?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I don't think that; my opinion is rather that if someone else had been in my position, the disaster would have been greater.

DR. THOMA: Do you believe that Himmler's speech, in which he demanded the extermination of 30 million Slavs, expressed only his personal opinion; or do you consider that it corresponded to the National Socialist ideology?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Today I believe that it was the logical consequence of our ideology.

DR. THOMA: Today?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Today.

DR. THOMA: What was your own opinion at that time?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: It is difficult for a German to fight through to this conviction. It took me a long time.

DR.THOMA: Then how is it that a few days ago a witness, namely, the Witness Ohlendorf, appeared here and admitted that through the Einsatzgruppen he had killed 90,000 people, but told the Tribunal that this did not harmonize with the National Socialist ideology?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I am of a different opinion. If for years, for decades, a doctrine is preached to the effect that the Slav race is an inferior race, that the Jews are not even human beings, then an explosion of this sort is inevitable.

DR. THOMA: Nevertheless the fact remains that, together with whatever attitude towards life you had at that time, you also had a conscience?

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VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: And today, too -- for that reason I am here.
[Dr. Exner approached the lecterns]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, are you cross-examining on behalf of some other defendant, or what?

DR. EXNER: I should like to ask two or three questions which my client put to me as important during the recess.

THE PRESIDENT: You have already cross-examined, have you not?

DR. EXNER: Yes, but I now have three new questions. We were not able to prepare ourselves for this cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Go on.

DR. EXNER: Witness, you said an order was issued in the year 1944 regarding anti-partisan warfare. During the recess, I found in the document book of the Prosecution, under 1786-PS, mention of a combat directive on partisan warfare, dated 27 November 1942. Do you know of this?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No.

DR. EXNER: But it must exist, since it is mentioned here.

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I don't know it

DR.EXNER: Do you know of a Russian directive for partisan warfare?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Yes, that existed.

DR. EXNER: Could you give us information on the contents of this directive? What were the combat methods prescribed?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I no longer remember it.

DR. EXNER: Do you know where this directive is available?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: No.

DR. EXNER: Thank you.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): One moment. Do you know how many members of the Wehrmacht were used at any one time in this anti-partisan activity? What was the largest number of the troops?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: Large-scale undertakings were those carried out with one division or more. I believe the largest number of troops for a single operation might have been three divisions.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): I mean all the troops on the Eastern Front at any one time used in these anti-partisan activities?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I cannot answer that, because these troops were never
together under my direction. Operations were conducted simultaneously, large-, small-, and medium-scale

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operations were being carried out everywhere at the same time. Reports of such operations came in every day.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): Do you know how many Einsatzgruppen were used?

VON DEM BACH-ZELEWSKI: I know of three, one for each army group.

THE PRESIDENT: [To Colonel Taylor.] You don't want to reexamine?

COL. TAYLOR: No, Sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness may go.

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