IMT -- Testimony of Field Marshal Albert Kesselring

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IMT -- Testimony of Field Marshal Albert Kesselring

Post by David Thompson » 02 Apr 2005 03:57

This is the testimony of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, given on 12 Mar 1946 during the course of the IMT proceedings. It can be found in vol. 9 of the IMT proceedings at pp. 173-235, available on-line from The Avalon Project at:

This is part 1 of 3 parts:
DR. STAHNER: With the permission of the Tribunal I call as next witness, Field Marshal Kesselring.


12 March 46

[The witness Kesselring took the stand.]

THE PRESIDENT: Will you tell me your name?

ALBERT KESSELRING (Witness): Albert Kesselring.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me:

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 in German.]

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit if you wish.

DR. STAHMER: Witness, since when have you served with the Luftwaffe?

KESSELRING: Since 1 October 1933.

DR. STAHMER: What rank did you hold on your transfer to the Luftwaffe?

KESSELRING: Up to that time I was a colonel and officer commanding artillery in Dresden. Then I was retired as air commodore.

DR. STAHMER: You helped to build up the Luftwaffe?

KESSELRING: During the first 3 years I was Chief of the Administrative Office, subsequently Chief of the General Staff, and I then served in the Gruppenkommando.

DR. STAHMER: Was the Luftwaffe being built up for defensive or aggressive purposes?

KESSELRING: The German Luftwaffe was purely a weapon of defense. I must, however, add the comment that the single plane as well as the whole of an air force by its very nature is an aggressive weapon. Even in land fighting, mere defense unaccompanied by offensive movements is considered not to lead to any appreciable results or successes. This applies to a still greater degree to air warfare. The air force covers a wider range, both for defense and attack. This had been realized by the Reich Marshal and his generals.

It is obvious that when an air force is being built up, only light machines are produced, or are the first types to reach the units. Thus, up to 1936-37 we had only light craft, fighters, Stukas, reconnaissance planes, and a few "old sledges" as we called them, such as Ju 52, Do 11 and D 13 -- all obsolete bomber types.

One may hold the view that defense can be successfully conducted with these light craft. On the other hand, I should like to point to the end of the World War, when the German defensive air force was smashed by the offensive air force of the enemy.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal thinks the witness is dealing with this matter in far too great detail.

KESSELRING: I will go on. Up to 1937-38 there was no offensive air force, especially no bombers, and the bombers which were built


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later had neither the range nor the load capacity necessary for an offensive weapon. There were no four-engine bombers.

DR. STAHNER: Did you play any part in the attack on Warsaw?

KESSELRING: As Chief of Air Fleet 1, I led this attack.

DR. STAHMER: Did the military situation at the time justify this attack, and how was it carried out?

KESSELRING: Several attacks were made on Warsaw. In the German view, Warsaw was a fortress, and, moreover, it had strong air defenses. Thus the stipulations of the Hague Convention for land warfare, which can analogously be applied to air warfare, were fulfilled.

As to the first phase of the attack on Warsaw, according to the operational principle governing the employment of the Luftwaffe, the enemy air force and the aircraft factories in the immediate vicinity of the airfields were to be attacked. These attacks were in my opinion fully justified and they comply with the rules.

The second phase concerns the combating of the operational movements of the Poles. I may add that Warsaw is a junction for northern and central Poland. When our long-range reconnaissance reported -- this was confirmed by the final phase -- that the railway stations were crammed with material and that reinforcements in increasing numbers were moving on Warsaw, the air attack on these movements was ordered and carried out.
It was mainly directed against railway stations and sidings and the Vistula bridges. For the execution of these attacks I detailed Stukas and ground "strafer" aircraft, because the precision of these machines afforded the guarantee that mainly the military targets would be hit.

The third phase was the shelling of Warsaw. I consider the shelling to be an army action in which, at the request of the army, small units of the Luftwaffe were employed against military targets. I myself was over Warsaw, and after practically every air attack I consulted the army commanders about the execution. From my own experiences and reports I can assert that everything that was humanly possible was done to hit military targets only and to spare civilian targets.

DR. STAHMER: Can you confirm conclusively that these attacks were kept throughout within the limits of military necessity?

KESSELRING: Absolutely.

DR. STAHNER: Did you play any part in the attack on Rotterdam?

KESSELRING: As Air Force Chief 2, to which rank I had been promoted, I led air attacks on Holland, Belgium, and France, and


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the airborne corps operated under my command also. The airborne corps was commanded by General Student, who asked for his paratroops to be supported by a bomber attack. General Student had such a comprehensive knowledge of the ground situation that he alone must be considered responsible for preparation and execution of the attack. The Fourth Air Corps was ordered to provide air support, and one group, the smallest unit necessary for this purpose, was employed. The attack was carried out solely in accordance with the tactical requirements and technical possibilities. The orders of General Student reached my command very early. Thus all preparations could be made leisurely according to plan. At the instance of the Reich Marshal the unit was informed of possible changes within Rotterdam and of the approach of Panzer divisions. The objective set by General Student was quite elear as to extent, central and key points, and occupation. It was not difficult for seasoned troops to grasp the objective. There was radio communication between General Student's command, my staff, and other staffs, including the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe. Any interruption of this communication could only have been a very short one as radio orders were transmitted by me or the Reich Marshal. The technique at that time made it possible to maintain contact through this radio communication between the tactical ground station and the flying unit via its ground station. The ground communications usual at that time such as flags, flares, and signal code designations at the front were maintained according to plan. They functioned without a hitch. In accordance with its training and its orders the formation had sent out a reconnaissance aircraft which kept them informed of the situation and the objective. In addition, by order of the Reich Marshal, there followed a General Staff officer attached to my air fleet who had the same mission.

DR. STAHMER: Had the order been given that the situation and the objective should be...

KESSELRING: I myself never had any doubt that the attack had to be carried out;
I was only not quite sure whether or not it should be repeated. And this was the question to which the signals referred. Judging from my knowledge of General Student and -- I stress this particularly -- his technique in leading an attack and his clearly stated requirements, I had to expect the attack to be carried out.

The attack was carried out according to plan and time schedule. The report that the target had been accurately bombed came through very quickly together with the message that no further attacks were necessary. During the 3 days of fighting in Holland the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe was kept well informed. Particularly on the third day, that is, the day I am talking of, the Reich Marshal in his outspoken manner intervened more than usual


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in the direction of the air fleet and did, in my opinion, everything that could possibly be done from such a high position. I do not remember any message to the effect that the bomber attack was no longer warranted by the tactical situation.

DR. STAHMER: Bombs are said to have been dropped when negotiations about capitulation had already started.

KESSELRING: As I said, no message to this effect had been received by the command, neither had the formation operating over Rotterdam picked up a message from the ground. Probably some confusion occurred at the command In Rotterdam itself of which I know nothing. Neither do I know about the agreements reached between General Student and the officer commanding the Dutch troops in Rotterdam. I wanted later to have a talk with General Student on this question, but it was not possible because of his having received a serious head injury. If, contrary to my firm conviction, the attack had been no longer warranted by the situation, this would be most regrettable. As a soldier of 42 years' standing, as an artillery man, as an airman, as a General Staff officer, and as a leader for many years, I wish to make it clear that this case was one of those unforeseeable coincidences of war which, I am sorry to say, occur in the armed services of all countries more frequently than one might think; only the world does not know.

DR. STAHMER: How do you explain the big fires that still broke out in Rotterdam?

KESSELRING: When I received the report from the formation I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that the effect of the bombing was confined to the target area, but this war has shown that most of the destruction is not caused by the bombs themselves, but by the spreading of fires. Unfortunately a bomb had hit a margarine or some other factory in Rotterdam, causing oil to run out and the fire to spread. As after the attack the capitulation was already effective, it should have been possible to prevent the fires from spreading by bringing in the fire services and the troops.

DR. STAHMER: What were the military consequences of this attack?

KESSELRING: The immediate consequence of the attack was the surrender of the Rotterdam troops. General Wenninger, who was air attache at the time and who later was attached to my air fleet, told me that in consequence of this attack the whole of the Dutch Army capitulated.

DR. STAHMER: Did you lead the attack on Coventry in November 1940?


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KESSELRING: As Chief of Air Fleet 2 I took part in this attack, without any doubt. I cannot say now whether Air Fleet 3 took part in it as well, but I did.

DR. STAHMER: What was the object of the attack?

KESSELRING: According to the target index kept by the archives department of the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, Coventry was an English armament center; it was known as "Little Essen." This index was compiled with meticulous care by experts, engineers, and officers, and contained maps, charts, photographs, description of targets, key points, et cetera. I myself, as well as my men, was fully familiar with these details. Furthermore, I had the aforementioned General Wenninger and several engineers with the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe give lectures to the troops about targets, in order to make them acquainted with the nature of the targets, their vulnerability, and the effects of an air attack.

Preparations for an attack were made most conscientiously. I was very often present and the Reich Marshal himself occasionally inspected them. The case of Coventry was extremely simple, as during those nights favorable weather conditions prevailed, so that Coventry could be reached without radio navigation. The distribution of the targets in Coventry was likewise very simple, so that bombs could be dropped without the help of flares, and it was hardly possible to miss the target. But bombs follow the same law as other projectiles; in other words, in land and air warfare dispersion covers a wide range. With an air force this is the further peculiarity that if strong formations are employed not the individual target but only the target area as a whole can be aimed at, which naturally causes a deviation from the target itself. By order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe and on the reconnaissance pilot's own initiative, all hits and attacks were checked the following day by air photographs. The ground visibility was good but, as I already said in the case of Rotterdam, the destruction of the objective was not caused so much by the bombs themselves as by the spreading of fire. I do not know whether I should add anything further. The Hague Convention on land warfare did not provide for the requirements of air warfare. In order to avoid an arbitrary selection of targets, the Supreme Command had to go into the question and issue general directives based on the preamble to the Hague Convention, the literature published in the meantime, and finally, the special conditions governing the Luftwaffe itself. Only those targets which we considered admissible according to international law were assigned to the air fleet or formation. This did not exclude the reconsideration and change of targets in individual cases, which were discussed with the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, and we took the responsibility ...


12 March 46

THE PRESIDENT: You are speaking too fast.

KESSELRING: By personal visits and other means we impressed upon our units the need to study preparation, the dropping of bombs, aiming, the meteorological conditions, so carefully that the highest degree of accuracy could be obtained and regrettable deviations into the perimeter of the objectives could be avoided. The case of Coventry was particularly fortunate as it presented an important military target, and no one could speak of it as an attack directed against the civilian population.

DR. STAHMER: I have no more questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other defense counsel wish to ask questions?

DR. LATERNSER: Witness, since when were you commander of an army group?

KESSELRING: I became commander of an army group in September 1943 after, as commander of the German troops in the Supreme Command, I had already served in a supervisory capacity as far as general strategic and tactical questions were concerned.

DR. LATERNSER: The army group which you led was in Italy?

KESSELRING: The army group was in the Mediterranean area.

DR. LATERNSER: Do you know the composition of the General Staff and High Command group as presented by the Prosecution?


DR. LATERNSER: First I have a preliminary question. What is, strictly speaking, understood by the German General Staff of the individual branches of the Wehrmacht?

KESSELRING: The General Staff of the individual branches of the Wehrmacht comprises all those officers who assist the commanders-in-chief of the services and share their responsibility.

DR. LATERNSER: Would you please state how this group was composed and organized in the Luftwaffe, for instance?

KESSELRING: The General Staff of the Luftwaffe was the equivalent of the General
Staff of the Army and these organizations were as alike as two pins. The General
Staff consisted of the central department, called the Operations Staff in the Luftwaffe, headed by the Chief of the General Staff, the operational departments, the organizational groups, the departmental chiefs of the Luftwaffe, the supply office, et cetera. The various commands, from the air fleet down to the division, the ground staff and the Luftgaue, had General Staff officers attached to them to assist in the command. A chief of general staff no longer bore co-responsibility, as was previously customary, since this was held to be inconsistent with the


12 March 46

Leadership Principle. These chiefs of general staffs and the chief of the central department of the General Staff exercised their influence regarding military and ideological training on all the General Staff officers within the Wehrmacht, without prejudice to the responsibility of the individual military commander.

DR. LATERNSER: If I summarize your reply that by General Staff of the Luftwaffe is meant the Chief of General Staff and the regimental staff officers, would I then be describing correctly the composition of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe?

KESSELRING: Most certainly.

DR. LATERNSER: Do you consider the term "General Staff" as has been employed in these proceedings to be in accordance with military usage?

KESSELRING: As I said before, the General Staff was composed of officers assisting in the command, which did not include the commanders and commanders-in-chief. According to German views they did not belong to that category, because not all the commanders and commanders-in-chief had had the same education and training as the General Staff officers. The commanders-in-chief were single individuals. They would be treated collectively only in connection with their rank as generals and for budget and pay purposes.

DR. LATERNSER: Would you consider it to be erroneous to apply the term "General Staff" to the high military commanders?

KESSELRING: According to the German conception it would be a misnomer.

DR. LATERNSER: Have at any time in the history of the Wehrmacht the high military commanders been subsumed under this group as is being done here?

KESSELRING: In Germany such subsumption was not indicated and for various reasons was not even admissible. Neither did the commanders-in-chief form a collective body to act in any way as a war council or as a similar assembly with definite tasks. They were not even, individually or collectively, members of the Reich Defense Council, but were only appointed ad hoc commanders of a front or a command post. To set up the commanders-in-chief as a collective body for any specific purpose was in my opinion quite impossible, for the simple reason that they were under the commander-in-chief of the Army, the Luftwaffe, or the Navy or under the High Command of the Armed Forces. Moreover, some were 100 percent under the German Supreme Command; others were 100 percent under Axis command. Some of them were under two different commands, some were independent commanders-in-chief, others were army commanders-in-chief subordinate to an army group.


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DR. LATERNSER: You are speaking too fast. Had the commanders-in-chief only to work out military problems set before them, or did they themselves draw up plans and submit them to Hitler for consideration?

KESSELRING: The commanders-in-chief were purely military leaders, responsible only for the task allotted to them. Within the scope of this task they could submit suggestions or improvements, et cetera, to the OKW or to the OKH, but their activities in the sense of collaboration were limited to these suggestions.

DR. LATERNSER: You just mentioned improvements and modifications. Did this mean that the commanders-in-chief were expected to suggest modifications of a plan only from the military-technical aspect, or also to submit suggestions as to whether or not a plan should be carried out at all?

KESSELRING: Generally it meant suggestions for modifications from the military-technical aspect only. In matters of minor importance they had a say also as to policy. If, however, the highest authority had made a decision, the others kept silent.

DR. LATERNSER: We will revert to this later. Did the "General Staff" group as presented here ever meet collectively?


DR. LATERNSER: Were there any rules providing for the organization of this group?


DR. LATERNSER: Did any members of this group ever suggest a departure from the rules of international law?

KESSELRING: I do not think so; rather the contrary.

DR. LATERNSER: Was there a frequent reshuffle of the holders of the offices which make up this group, or did they hold the offices for a long period?

KESSELRING: In the course of the later years the commanders-in-chief and commanders were rather frequently reshuffled.

DR. LATERNSER: What do you know about the conferences Hitler held with high-ranking military leaders?

KESSELRING: There were two kinds of conferences. First, an important address before a campaign to the higher leaders taking part in it. The object of the address was generally to inform the leaders of the situation and to brief them.

In view of the Fuehrer's persuasive rhetoric it was hardly possible for us to take any stand in the matter, particularly as we were not informed about all the details. At such conferences discussions did not take place; they


12 March 46

were not allowed. There sometimes followed military-tactical consultations, and every leader had the chance of putting forward and stressing his views and requests. As I have said, we had no say in political questions. We were, as is known, faced with the accomplished fact, which we as soldiers had to accept.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you attend a conference held by Hitler on 22 August 1939, that is, shortly before the Polish campaign started?


DR. LATERNSER: Was it not made known at the end of this conference that we had concluded a treaty with the Soviet Union?

KESSELRING: At the end, after the address, we were all called together again and informed that the message had just been received that Russia would adopt benevolent neutrality.

DR. LATERNSER: What impression did this message have on you and the other high military leaders?

KESSELRING: It was a tremendous relief to me and to the others. Otherwise we could not have dismissed the possibility of an extension of the war toward the East. Now that Russia was going to hold herself aloof, the Luftwaffe at least -- I speak as an army commander -- had a superiority which guaranteed a rapid and decisive success, and which over and above this, in my opinion, would possibly prevent the expansion of the war.

DR. LATERNSER: In any case, the message was a great relief to you?

KESSELRING: Yes, very great.

DR. LATERNSER: Witness, can you tell me whether members of the General Staff and OKW group ever met and had discussions with leading politicians and Party men?

KESSELRING: If I may speak for myself, I was operating both in the Mediterranean area and in the West. In the Mediterranean area I had to work with the Gauleiter Rainer and Hofer and then in the West with ...

DR. LATERNSER: That was not the point of the question. I wanted to know whether the high military leaders ever met and discussed any political plans with leading politicians.

KESSELRING: No, no. That I can definitely say was not the case. We as soldiers generally did not bother about politics. Political decisions were made by the politicians and we had to carry them out.

DR. LATERNSER: Among military leaders, as a result of their many years of experience in the Wehrmacht, which foster the


12 March 46

principle of giving the soldier a nonpolitical education, this attitude is customary, is it not?

KESSELRING: This policy has been developed in the German Army since the 18th century.

DR. LATERNSER: Do you know whether the higher military leaders had any contact with the Fifth Column?

KESSELRING: The military leadership had nothing to do with the Fifth Column.
This was beneath us.

DR. LATERNSER: What was your impression of the conference Hitler held with the higher military leaders before the Eastern campaign started? Was the situation presented to you in such a way that war had to be considered unavoidable?

KESSELRING: I had the definite impression that the purpose of the address to the leaders was to convince them of the necessity of the war as a preventive war; and that it was imperative to strike before the building up and the mobilization of the Russian armed forces became a danger to Germany.

DR. LATERNSER: Could you state the reasons for your impression?

KESSELRING: As I have already said, the purpose of the address was to give us a convincing picture of the general situation; of the military situation and its time schedule -- and it did convince us. In connection with the Russian campaign I should like to say that up to the last day of August I had no doubt...

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, will you go more slowly please and have some consideration for the interpreters.

DR. LATERNSER: Would you please repeat the last answer.

KESSELRING: I had still less reason to doubt Hitler's words because, up to the last moment, I, as Commander-in-Chief of Air Fleet 2, was engaged in operations against England and had had neither time nor the means to form a well-founded judgment of my own on the Russian situation. I had to confine myself...

DR. LATERNSER: This Trial has shown that the commanders-in-chief are being made responsible for what is bound to happen in a war. I should like you to describe the daily routine of a commander-in-chief of an army group, an army, or an air fleet.

KESSELRING: The daily routine depended of course on the personality of the individual leader. If I may speak of myself...

DR. LATERNSER: Witness, I ask you to be very brief.

THE PRESIDENT: Witness -- Dr. Laternser, surely, that is cumulative to what the witness has already been saying, and likely to be very long. About the description of the day of a commander,


12 March 46

this witness already said the commander had nothing to do with politics and nothing to do with the staff. Why should we be troubled with what the commander's day consists of?

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I attach particular importance to this question for the following reasons: In view of the range of a commander-in-chief's activities, especially at the front, not every report can reach him because even reports from his own sector have to be dealt with by the respective officers. Thus, only those reports come to him which are of particular importance and of a decisive nature and which have a direct bearing on the conduct of the action.

THE PRESIDENT: Give it in that way then, rather than giving the witness a full day to describe.

DR. LATERNSER: Very well, I shall put it that way.

Witness, in view of the range of your activities as commander-in-chief did every report reach you, or only those which, after having been studied by the respective officers, were found to be of such importance that they had to be submitted to the commander-in-chief?

KESSELRING: Especially when an action was in progress all reports could not reach the commander-in-chief. In my particular case this was still less possible as I spent 50 to 70 percent of my time at the front. The staffs of the armies, air fleets, and navy units had to retain a responsibility of their own within their competence.

DR.LATERNSER: Did the many activities of a commander-in-chief allow all reports on violations of international law, even of a minor nature, to be submitted to him?

KESSELRING: This had to be aimed at. I doubt, however, for the afore-mentioned reasons, whether this was possible in every case.

DR. LATERNSER: In this matter, therefore, the commander-in-chief had to rely on his staff, had he not?

KESSELRING: Yes; 100 percent.

DR. LATERNSER: Were you commander-in-chief of an air fleet on the Eastern front from June to November 1941?


DR. LATERNSER: Did you hear anything about the extermination of Jews in the East?


DR. LATERNSER: Did you hear anything about the Einsatzgruppen of the SS?

KESSELRING: Nothing. I did not even know the name of these units.


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DR. LATERNSER: Did you get to know anything about the regrettable order that Russian commissars were to be shot after their capture?

KESSELRING: I heard of this order at the end of the war. The air fleet, not being engaged in ground fighting, had actually nothing to do with this question. I think I can safely say the Luftwaffe knew nothing whatsoever about it. Though I very frequently had personal dealings with Field Marshal Von Bock, with commanders of armies and armored units, none of these gentlemen ever told me of such an order.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you know about the Commando Order?


DR. LATERNSER: And what did you think of this order?

KESSELRING: I considered such an order, received by me as commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, where I held a double post, as not binding for me, but as the outline of an order which left me a free hand in its application. On this question I held the view that it was for me, as commander-in-chief, to decide whether a Commando action was contrary to international law or whether it was tactically justified. The view adopted more and more by the army group, which view was directed by me, was that personnel in uniform who had been sent out on a definite tactical task were to be treated and considered as soldiers in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention for land warfare.

DR. LATERNSER: The Commando Order was consequently not applied within your command?

KESSELRING: In one case, yes, it was certainly applied.

DR. LATERNSER: Which case do you mean?

KESSELRING: I mean the case of General Dostler.

DR. I.ATERNSER: The case of General Dostler has already been mentioned in this Trial. Did you know about this case when it was pending?

KESSELRING: As a witness under oath I have stated that I cannot remember this case. I think there are two reasons why I was not informed of it. Firstly, after a conversation with my chief, who spoke to another commander about it, it appeared that none of us knew anything. Secondly, because of the gigantic operations on the Southern Front, I was more often absent than not from my headquarters.

DR. LATERNSER: Witness, if you had been called upon to make a decision on the Dostler case, how would you have decided?

KESSELRING: I am not well enough acquainted with the case. I know it only from hearsay.


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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I do not think we can try Dostler's case, or that this witness should give his conclusions, inasmuch as Dostler's case has been tried by a competent court and that issue is disposed of. I have no objection to any facts that inform this Tribunal, but his conclusion as to the guilt of his fellow officer is hardly helpful.

THE PRESIDENT: Particularly as he said he cannot remember.

DR. LATERNSER: I withdraw the question.

Witness, can you quote other cases where the Commando Order was not applied in your area?

KESSELRING: Small scale landings behind the lines at Commazzio, south of Venice, also airborne landings north of Albenda in the region of Genoa and minor actions in the Lago di Ortona district. I am convinced the troops adopted this general view and acted accordingly.

DR. LATERNSER: You were commander-in-chief of an air fleet in the East. What can you say about the treatment of the Russian civilian population during the campaign?

KESSELRING: I was in Russia until the end of November and I can say only that the population and the troops were on the best of terms, and that the field kitchens were used everywhere for the benefit of the poor and the children; also that the morality of the Russian woman, which, as is known, is on a high level, was respected by the German soldiers to a remarkable extent. I know that my doctors, during the hours of attendance, were frequently consulted by the Russian population. I remember this, because the doctors spoke to me about the fortitude they showed in enduring pain. The war passed so quickly over the plains as far as Smolensk that the whole area presented quite a peaceful aspect; peasants were at work, fairly large herds of cattle were grazing, and when I visited the area I found the small dwellings intact.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you hear of any excesses committed by German soldiers in the East? Whenever cases of violations of international law were reported to you, did you take action with all the means at your disposal?

KESSELRING: I at least tried to do so, if only for the sake of maintaining the reputation of the German Wehrmacht and also in the interests of the relations of the Wehrmacht with our Italian allies. I therefore thought it expedient to deal severely with any German soldier who committed an offense. As I was mindful of the fact that war is a brutal business and the longer it lasts the more brutal it becomes, particularly if the leaders and subordinates are no longer able to cope with their tasks, I had recourse to preventive measures. The preventive regulations, which I am sure


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were seen at many places by the Allied Forces during their advance through Italy, my various announcements of the penalties imposed which became generally known, are the best proof of what I just said.

As a preventive measure I ordered whole towns, or if this was not possible, their centers to be cleared of military and administrative offices and soldiers, and barricaded off. Furthermore, as far as air raid precautions allowed, the soldiers were garrisoned and billeted in confined areas. I also ordered detached individual soldiers, who are usually the cause of such trouble -- for instance soldiers going on and returning from leave-to be grouped together, and nonmilitary vehicles to form convoys. For control purposes I had cordons drawn by military police, field police, gendarmes, with mobile courts and flying squads attached to them.

The buying-up of Italian goods, which was partly the cause of the trouble, was to be restricted by establishing stores, in cooperation with the Italian Government, along the return routes, and here the soldiers could buy something to take home. This was enforced by penalties. German offenders reported to me by the Italians, I had prosecuted or I myself took proceedings against them. Whenever local operations prevented my personal intervention, as for instance at Siena, I notified the Wehrmacht that I would have the case dealt with by court-martial at a later date. In other cases, when the situation was critical, I declared an emergency law and imposed the death penalty for looting, robbery, murder, et cetera. The death penalty was, however, rarely found to have a deterrent effect. I took action against officers who, naturally disposed to shield their men, had shown too great leniency.

I understand all files are available here, so that all details can be seen from the marginal notes on the reports sent in by the military police.

DR. LATERNSER: Witness, do you also know of any violations of international law by the other side?

KESSELRING: During my many visits to the front I did, of course, come across a large number...

GEN. RUDENKO: I protest against this question. In my opinion, the witness is not the person to make any statement as to whether Germany's enemies have violated international law. I think this question should be omitted.

DR. LATERNSER: May I explain my point? I am interested in an answer to this question because I want to follow it with the further question to the witness, whether after he heard of violations of international law by the other side, he became more lenient


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concerning violations of international law by his own men. That is why I am anxious to have this question answered.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to know exactly what your question is and why you say it is competent.

DR. LATERNSER: The exact wording of the question is as follows:

I asked the witness, "Do you also know of any violations of international law by the other side?"

According to his answer I intend to put the further questions to the witness, whether, in view of such violations of international law by the other side, he either did not punish at all or dealt more leniently with violations of international law by his own men.

From the answer to this latter question I want to ascertain the attitude of the witness as a member of the group, and that is why I consider the answer to the first question to be important.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to hear what Counsel for the United States says about it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: If Your Honor please, I believe it is a well-established principle of international law that a violation on one side does not excuse or warrant violations on the other side. There is, of course, a doctrine of reprisal, but it is clearly not applicable here, on any basis that has been shown.

In the second place, even if the treatment of the subject matter were competent, I think it is being improperly gone into in this manner. Here is a broad question, "Did you hear of violations of international law?" It would at least, even if the subject were proper, require that some particularity of a case be given. A broad conclusion of a charge -- a violation of international law -- would hardly be sufficient to inform this Tribunal as to the basis on which this witness may have acted.

If there were some specific instance, with credible information called to his attention, there might be some basis; but surely the question as asked by counsel does not afford a basis here.

It seems to me we are getting far afield from the charges here and that this is far afield from anything that is involved in the case. I do not know what particular atrocities or violations of international law are to be excused by this method. There must have been atrocities committed, on the basis of which there is sought to be excused atrocities committed by somebody else. Who else committed them, why they were committed, is a subject we might have to try if we went into this subject. It seems to me that the inquiry is quite beside the point, and even if it were not, if there were any way that it is within the point, it is improperly put in this manner.


12 March 46

DR. STAHMER: This question, which is of fundamental importance, was argued before this Tribunal some time ago. This was when I applied for permission to be given to produce White Books containing reports on atrocities. I think it was during the sitting of 25 February.

At that time Professor Exner defined his attitude to this question and the Tribunal then permitted me to produce these White Books, with the proviso that I would still have to state what I intended to present from these books. Already on that occasion attention was drawn to the importance of the question of whether atrocities were committed by the other side as well, because this very point may contribute to a more just and possibly to a more lenient judgment of German behavior. The motive of an act has always a decisive bearing on the findings, and the view will be taken here that an act on the German part will be judged differently if the other side has not really, shown entirely correct behavior.
Furthermore it is an important question whether measures taken may have been reprisals. On the strength of these considerations I hold that this important question should be admitted.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn for 10 minutes.

[A recess was taken.]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal have considered the questions which Dr. Laternser proposed to put to the witness and have also considered the objections made by General Rudenko and Mr. Justice Jackson, and they hold the questions are inadmissible.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I assume that I am allowed to put the following question.

[Turning to the witness.] Witness, did you either not punish at all or deal more leniently with violations of international law by your own men when violations of this law by the other side were reported to you?

THE PRESIDENT: That seems to me to be putting in one question what before you put in two.

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, this question is not meant to cause the witness to give instances of violations of international law by the other side. From the answer, I merely want to ascertain the fundamental attitude of the witness, namely whether he, as commander-in-chief, dealt most severely with violations of international law by his own men even if violations on the other side were reported to him. I withdraw the question.


12 March 46

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would see no objection in your asking the witness whether he was anxious to avoid violations of international law; if you wish to put that question to him there will be no objection to that question. The question which you have suggested putting is really identical with the questions you put before.

DR. LATERNSER: Witness, during this trial severe accusations have been made because of atrocities committed by German soldiers. Was not every soldier sufficiently enlightened and instructed about the regulations of international law?

KESSELRING: I answer this question in the affirmative. The many talks given by me and the commanders under me always contained such admonitions and instructions.

DR. LATERNSER: Did you, as commander of an army group, spare art treasures and churches as far as possible?

KESSELRING: I regarded it as a matter of course as my duty to spare centers of art and learning and churches, and I gave orders accordingly, and acted accordingly myself in all my operations and tactical measures.

DR. LATERNSER: What do you know about the treatment of prisoners of war who had fallen into German hands?

KESSELRING: Prisoners of war were treated according to international law. Wherever inspections ordered by me revealed any neglect, I had it redressed and reprimanded the commandant in charge.

DR. LATERNSER: I have still three more questions. Were you, as Field Marshal, informed that Italy would enter the war?

KESSELRING: No, I had not been informed about that. As far as I know, the entry of Italy into the war was so spontaneous that even the political leaders were surprised.

DR. LATERNSER: And were you informed that war would be declared upon America?

KESSELRING: No. I cannot say anything about this question.

DR. LATERNSER: And now the last question. What was the position regarding the resignation of military leaders during the war?

KESSELRING: Resignation from the Wehrmacht of one's own free will, or an application for permission to resign from the Wehrmacht, was not allowed. In 1944 there was an order prohibiting this under threat of the severest penalties. The Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht reserved for himself the exclusive right to make changes of personnel in the leading positions.

DR. LATERNSER: Was there a written order to this effect?


12 March 46

KESSELRING: Yes, I think so.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.

DR. JAHRREISS: Witness, you said before that the commanders-in-chief had, in military matters, the right and the opportunity to present their demands and views to Hitler, the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht. Did I understand that correctly?


DR. JAHRREISS: Did you personally have differences of opinion with Hitler?

KESSELRING: Considerable differences about operational and tactical questions.

DR. JAHRREISS: Did it come to a real clash?

KESSELRING: "Clash" is perhaps putting it too strongly; rather a divergence of opinion on either side.

DR. JAHRREISS: Shall we say disputes? Were they frequent?


DR. JAHRREISS: After all we have heard, here, Adolf Hitler must have been a rather difficult customer.

KESSELRING: That must be admitted. On the other hand, I found him -- I do not know why -- understanding in most of the matters I put to him.

DR. JAHRREISS: Did you yourself settle these differences of opinion with Hitler?

KESSELRING: In critical cases Colonel General Jodl called me in if he could not carry his point.

DR. JAHRREISS: If you could not carry the point?

KESSELRING: No, if Jodl could not carry the point.

DR. JAHRREISS: If Jodl could not carry the point, you were called in?


DR. JAHRREISS: Did Jodl's opinions, too, differ from Hitler's?

KESSELRING: On the various occasions when I attended for reporting I observed very definite differences of opinion between the two gentlemen, and that Jodl -- who was our spokesman at the OKW -- put his point of view with remarkable energy and stuck to it right to the end.

DR. JAHRREISS: What do you mean, he was your spokesman? Whose spokesman?

KESSELRING: My theaters of war, speaking as a general in the Wehrmacht, were
so-called OKW theaters of war, and the East was


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an Army theater of war. The East was an Army theater of war, whereas the others were OKW war theaters.

DR. JAHRREISS: Had the OKW no say regarding the Army theaters of war in the East?


DR. JAHRREISS: And the Army had no say regarding the OKW theater of war?


DR. JAHRREISS: I think not everybody will be able to understand this difference.

KESSELRING: It would be asking too much, because I myself cannot understand it.

DR. JAHRREISS: So, you were in an OKW theater of war?


DR. JAHRREISS: What does OKW mean in this connection?

KESSELRING: Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.

DR. JAHRREISS: Yes, I know that.

KESSELRING: It meant that the commander-in-chief was directly under Adolf Hitler, and headquarters under Jodl's operations staff.

DR. JAHRREISS: In a previous interrogation you spoke of orders from the OKW, did you not?


DR. JAHRREISS: Who is the OKW? Who gave orders?

KESSELRING: Orders of a fundamental nature were issued by one person only, and that was Adolf Hitler. All the others were only executive officers. This did not prevent these executive officers from holding views of their own or sharing the views of the army groups under them. They presented these views energetically to Adolf Hitler.

DR. JAHRREISS: What you are saying now rather surprises me, since the opinion had been voiced that Jodl, who you say was a kind of spokesman for the commanders-in-chief, was a willing tool of Adolf Hitler.

KESSELRING: I think the one does not exclude the other. I cannot imagine any marriage of 6 years standing without both partners having tried to understand each other. On the other hand, I can very well imagine that even in the happiest marriage serious quarrels occur.

DR. JAHRREISS: But in the average marriage the husband does not necessarily have to be a willing tool.


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KESSELRING: Here the situation is still a little bit different. As with all comparisons, this comparison with marriage does not go the whole way. In addition to this, in the army there is the principle of unquestioning subordination.

DR. JAHRREISS: Yes, but what you have just told us, about Jodl's position as spokesman for the commanders-in-chief, sounds as if Jodl acted as an intermediary, does it not?

KESSELRING: Jodl represented our interests in an outstanding way and thus acted as an intermediary for all of us.

DR. JAHRREISS: Did he also pit his opinions against those of Adolf Hitler when Adolf Hitler, in one of his famous fits of rage, had issued an order?

KESSELRING: I can state only that, on the occasion of my few visits to headquarters, I saw Colonel General Jodl grow red in the face, if I may say so, and in expressing his views he went very near the limit of what is permissible for a military man.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

[The Tribunal adjourned until 13 March 1946 at 1000 hours.]


Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 9


Wednesday, 13 March 1946

Morning Session

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has made an order with respect to further proceedings on the charge against organizations and the applications of members thereof. I do not propose to read that order, but the order will be posted on the Defense Counsels information board and will be communicated to them and to the Prosecution.

Dr. Jahrreiss, had you finished your examination?


THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Does any other of the Defense Counsel wish to examine the witness?

[The witness Kesselring resumed the stand.]

DR. KAUFFMANN: Witness, have you any recollection when the Defendant Kaltenbrunner first came into the public eye?

KESSELRING: I have no knowledge of Kaltenbrunner's becoming particularly prominent in the public eye. I heard the name Kaltenbrunner for the first time when he appeared as successor to General Canaris.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Have you any recollection of him being made the Chief of the Reich Security Main Office in January 1943?

KESSELRING: I may have heard of it, but I have no certain recollection of it.

DR KAUFFMANN: Kaltenbrunner states that in April 1945 he tried to save the country of Austria from further acts of war. Have you by chance any recollection of that?

KESSELRING: I merely heard that Kaltenbrunner was one of those persons who were working for an independent Austria, but I have no definite, accurate knowledge of the situation.

DR. KAUFFMANN, Furthermore, Kaltenbrunner states that he, on the basis of an agreement with the Red Cross at Geneva, had arranged for the return of civilian internees to their homeland through the firing line. He had communicated a request to your office -- not to you personally -- to the effect that a gap should be created in the fighting line to let these civilian internees go home. Do you happen to remember that?


13 March 46

David Thompson
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Post by David Thompson » 02 Apr 2005 03:59

Part 2 of 3:

13 March 46

KESSELRING: It, is quite possible that such a request was actually submitted. It did not come to my personal knowledge, because I was away from my office a great deal.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Witness, have you any recollection when concentration camps were first established in Germany?

KESSELRING: Yes. It was in 1933. 1 remember three concentration camps, but I do not know exactly when they were established: Oranienburg, which I often passed by and flew over; Dachau, which had been discussed vehemently in the newspapers; and Weimar-Nora, Weimar, a concentration camp which I flew over quite frequently on my official trips. I have no recollection of any other concentration camps; but perhaps I may add that, as a matter of principle, I kept aloof from rumors, which were particularly rife during those periods of crisis, in order to devote myself to my own duties which were particularly heavy.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Regarding the internees in the concentration camps, did you have any definite idea as to who would be brought to these concentration camps?

KESSELRING: I had an idea, without knowing where I got it from, which seemed plausible to me; namely, that the National Socialist Revolution should be achieved without the loss of life, and that political opponents should be detained until the founding of the new State had given sufficient security for them to return to public life. That is my knowledge of the situation, from which I conclude, in order to answer your question, that these people must, for the most part, have been persons who were opposed to the National Socialist ideology.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Have you ever thought what the treatment in these concentration camps would be like according to your idea? What was your conception of the treatment of the prisoners in the camps? There may perhaps be a difference according to whether you think of the earlier or the later years?

KESSELRING: I know nothing about the methods of treatment in the camps. During the earlier years, when I was still working in Germany, rumors were heard to the effect that treatment was normal. In the later years I was abroad, that is to say, in theaters of war outside Germany; and I was so far away that I knew nothing whatsoever of these incidents and did not ask for any information about them.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Is it right therefore to assume that as far as the atrocities were concerned which did actually occur, you had no positive knowledge?

KESSELRING: No, I did not have any positive knowledge, not even in March 1945, when I became Supreme Commander in the


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West. Even then the occurrences in the concentration camps were completely unknown to me. This I attributed to two reasons: First, the personal attitude which I expressed earlier, that on principle I concerned myself only with my own business -- which in itself was sufficiently extensive, and secondly, that within the State a police state had developed which had hermetically sealed and closed itself off from the rest of the world.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Have you any proof that there was more knowledge in your officers' circles than what you have just described with regard to yourself?
KESSELRING: I was in very close contact with my officers and I do not believe that there can have been a large number of officers who knew more about these things. Of course I cannot give information regarding individuals.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you know that Hitler had decided to eliminate the Jewish people physically?

KESSELRING: That was absolutely unknown to me.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you not have frequent opportunities to discuss ideological questions with Hitler?

KESSELRING: Whenever I was at headquarters only military and similar questions concerning my theater of war were discussed during the official part of the conversation. When I was invited to a meal, then historical matters or matters of general interest were usually discussed, but acute political problems or ideological questions never came up for discussion. I personally cannot remember any instance when Hitler influenced me, or any of the other generals, in any way whatsoever with regard to professing themselves active National Socialists.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you believe in Hitler's personality in the sense that Hitler was determined to lead the German people to a better Germany, with consideration for personal freedom and respect for human dignity? What was your conception about that?

THE PRESIDENT: What is the relevancy of a witness' belief upon a subject of that sort? What relevancy has it got to do with any part of the case of the Defendant Kaltenbrunner? The Tribunal considers this sort of question a waste of the Tribunal's time.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Is it correct that in the absolute leadership state which existed in Germany any opposition by a human being to a superior order was impossible?

KESSELRING: In that form I would not deny that. One could certainly represent one's own views against another view. But if one's own views were rendered invalid by a decision, absolute obedience became necessary, and its execution was demanded and


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ensured under certain circumstances by the application of penal law. Resistance to that order, or an order, was, according to our knowledge of the personality and attitude of Adolf Hitler, out of the question and would have achieved nothing.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Would not a person attempting to resist a finally issued order have to consider whether he might not be risking his life?
KESSELRING: During the later years that was an absolute certainty.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you at any time think the war could not be won, and if so, when?

KESSELRING: In 1943, the possibility had to be considered that a victorious peace might not be achieved. I emphasize expressly that one had to consider that possibility, for by observing certain organizational or operational measures, the situation might still have been reversed.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you ever discuss this question with someone of importance -- the misgivings which you may have had about the continuance of the war?

KESSELRING: At various times when I discussed my own military sector, I referred to certain difficulties which might influence the outcome of the war in general; however, as representative of one military sector, I considered myself in no way entitled to judge the entire military situation, since I could not, from my limited viewpoint, judge the situation regarding production and the organization of manpower reserves. And as I said before, I refused, as an amateur, to make any statement about a situation, which under certain circumstances might have been regarded as official as it would have had the signature of Field Marshal Kesselring.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you kindly explain to the Tribunal what relevancy the last two or three questions have to the case of Kaltenbrunner?

DR. KAUFFTMANN: The same applies to Kaltenbrunner, that he could not as he says, resist an order. It would have meant the loss of his life.

THE PRESIDENT: You asked the witness whether at any time during the war he thought how long the war would last. What has that got to do with Kaltenbrunner?

DR. KAUFFMANN: The Prosecution accuses several defendants of having continued the struggle in spite of the fact that they knew it was hopeless, and of having prolonged the war. That is the problem I wish to clarify in my last question.


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THE PRESIDENT: I do not think it was put specifically against Kaltenbrunner. If it is your last question you may put it.

DR. KAUFFMANN: If I understand you correctly, Witness, what you are trying to explain is that the leading motive of your continuing to fight was also your duty towards your country?

KESSELRING: That is a matter of course. I had other motives too. One was that the possibility of a political termination of the war was denied, at least officially; but that I believed in it, and I am still convinced of it today, may be proved by the fact that I personally, together with Obergruppenfuehrer Wolff, undertook negotiations through Switzerland with an American, in order to prepare the ground for a political discussion to that end.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Mr. President, I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Any other Counsel for the Defense?

HERR PELCKMANN: Witness, Dr. Kauffmann asked you whether the officers' corps had any knowledge of the conditions and the establishment of concentration camps. Do you know that within the Armed Forces so-called national-political instruction courses were held?

KESSELRING: Yes, I know of that.

HERR PELCKMANN: May I ask you whether you know that during one of the Armed Forces national-political courses of instruction, which were held from 15 to 23 January 1937, and I am referring now to Document Number 1992(a)-PS concerning the establishment of concentration camps, Himmler, the SS Leader, in the presence of the assembled officers, made a speech more or less to this effect:

"Naturally, we make a difference between inmates who may be there for a few months for educational purposes, and those who will be there for a long time."

I skip a few sentences, and come to the ones I consider important:

"The order begins by insisting that these people live in clean barracks. This can, in fact, only be achieved by us Germans, for there is hardly any other nation which would act as humanely as we do. Linen is frequently changed. The people are instructed to wash twice a day, and the use of tooth brushes is advised, a thing which is unknown to most of them."

Do you know that the Armed Forces were given instructions of this kind, which, as we know today, do not correspond to conditions as they really were?

KESSELRING: As I said earlier, we did not concern ourselves with such questions at all, and this lecture by Himmler is unknown to me.


13 March 46

HERR PELCKMANN: Unknown. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other Defense Counsel wish to ask any questions? Then the Prosecution may cross-examine.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You understand, Witness, in giving your testimony, as to the definition of the High Command and the General Staff, as that definition is included in the Indictment, you are accused as a member of that group, do you not?

KESSELRING: I understand.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And that you are testifying here virtually as one of the defendants?

KESSELRING: I understand.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You have spoken of the establishment in Germany of a police state by the National Socialist Party, and I want to ask you whether it is not a fact that the police state rested on two institutions very largely, first, the Secret State Police, and secondly, the concentration camps?

KESSELRING: The assistance by the police is an established fact to me. The concentration camp was, in my opinion, a final means to that end.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And both the secret police and the concentration camp were established by Hermann GOERING, is that not a fact known to you?

KESSELRING: The Secret State Police was created by Hermann GOERING. Whether it was formed by Himmler...

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Your lectures will be reserved for your own counsel, and I shall ask to have you so instructed. Just answer my questions. Was not the concentration camp also established by Hermann GOERING?

KESSELRING: I do not know.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You do not know that. Did you favor the police state?

KESSELRING: I considered it as abnormal according to German conceptions that a state had been formed within a state thus keeping certain things away from public knowledge.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you ever do anything or can you point to anything that you did in public life to prevent that abnormal condition coming to Germany?

KESSELRING: I cannot remember anything, except that during conversations with my superiors I may have brought the point up for discussion. But I emphasize expressly that in general I confined myself to my own sphere and my own tasks.


13 March 46

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Do you want this Tribunal to understand that you never knew that there was a campaign by this state to persecute the Jews in Germany? Is that the way you want your testimony to be understood?

KESSELRING: A persecution of the Jews as such was not known to me.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Is it not a fact that Jewish officers were excluded from your army and from your command?

KESSELRING: Jewish officers did not exist.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Is it not a fact that certain officers of your army, certain officers of the Luftwaffe, took steps to Aryanize themselves in order to escape the effect of GOERING's decrees? Did you know about that?

KESSELRING: I heard rumors to that effect.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Any Aryanizing, where the father was suspected of Jewish ancestry, consisted in showing that the normal father was not the actual father, did it not?

KESSELRING: I admit that. Naturally there are other cases as well.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes. It might be that the mother was suspected of Jewish ancestry?

KESSELRING: That in certain exceptional cases certain facts were overlooked.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Yes. Did you know anything about the Jewish riots, anti-Jewish riots of November 9th and 10th in Germany in 1938?

KESSELRING: Are you talking about the "Mirror Action" (Spiegelsache)? I am not sure which day you are talking about.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I am talking about the riots in which synagogues were burned, which made GOERING so very angry. Did you not hear about that in 1938?

KESSELRING: No, I did not hear anything about it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Where were you in 1938?

KESSELRING: In 1938 I was in Dresden.


KESSELRING: In November I was in Berlin as Chief of the Air Force.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: In Berlin. And you never heard about the anti-Jewish riots of the 9th and 10th of November 1938?

KESSELRING: I only heard about the so-called "Mirror or Glass Campaign (Spiegel- oder Glas-Campagne)."


13 March 46

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: What was that? You have me down. I do not know anything by that name.

KESSELRING: That was the smashing of shop windows and more, which assumed rather large proportions in Berlin.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You did hear, then, about the anti-Jewish riots?

KESSELRING: About those, yes.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And did you hear that Hermann GOERING issued a decree confiscating the insurance that was to make reparations to those Jews who owned shops? Did you hear about GOERING's action in that respect?

KESSELRING: I did not quite understand. May I ask to have it repeated?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you hear about the decree passed by Hermann GOERING a few days later, November 12th, to be exact, confiscating the insurance of the victims of those raids and fining the Jewish community a billion Reichsmark?

KESSELRING: It is possible that I heard about it at the time, but I now have no certain recollection.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But you did hear about it. You did not regard those things as persecution?

KESSELRING: Naturally I must regard this "Glass Campaign" as an excess against the Jews.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You have stated, as I understand you, based on your experience with Hitler, that it was permissible for officers to differ with him in opinion so long as they obeyed his orders. Is that what you want understood?

KESSELRING: I have to apologize, but I did not quite understand the last half of that sentence.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I have understood from your testimony this morning that you felt perfectly free to disagree with Hitler and to make suggestions to him and give him information, but that, after his mind was made up and an order issued, it had to be obeyed. That is to say...


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is to say, an officer was at all times at liberty to go to Hitler and give him technical information, such as the state of the preparedness of his branch of the service?

KESSELRING: Generally speaking, no. For that purpose the commanders-in-chief of the branches of the Armed Forces concerned were the only people admitted.


13 March 46

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: So the only channel through which information as to the state of the Air Force would reach Hitler was through Hermann GOERING, is that a fact?

KESSELRING: Hermann GOERING and, from time to time, State Secretary Milch, deputy of the Reich Marshal.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: If Hitler was about to engage in a war for which the Luftwaffe was unprepared, based on your information of the situation, would it or would it not have been possible for the Luftwaffe officers to have advised Hitler of that fact?

KESSELRING: We had complete confidence in our Reich Marshal, and we knew that he was the only person who had a decisive influence upon Adolf Hitler. In that way we knew, since we also knew his peaceful attitude, that we were perfectly secure, and we relied on it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: There came a time when you went into the East, did you not, as a commander? You went into Poland and you went into Soviet Russia, did you not?

KESSELRING: Poland and Russia, yes.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And was it not understood among the officers in those Polish and Russian campaigns that the Hague regulations would not be applied to Soviet Russia as to the treatment of prisoners of war?

KESSELRING: That was not known to me.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You have testified that the Luftwaffe was purely a weapon of defense, is that your testimony?


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: What was the German strength at the beginning of the Polish campaign in various types of planes?

KESSELRING: As I was not a member of the central board I can give you only an approximation on my own responsibility, without guaranteeing the historical certainty of these figures. All told, I would say we must have had approximately three thousand aircraft. All in all, so far as I can remember now, there were between thirty and forty bomber groups, the same number of fighters, and there were ten groups of dive-bombers, fighters...

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Will you give me the number of each group?

KESSELRING: About thirty aircraft, which would drop to seven, six or five aircraft during the course of the day. To continue, there were ten to twelve groups of dive-bombers, including ground


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"strafers" and twin-engine fighters. Also included in that figure were reconnaissance planes and a certain number of naval aircraft.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And the proportion of bombers to fighters was approximately two to one, was it not?

KESSELRING: The proportion of bombers to fighters was about one to one or one point two, or one point three to one. I said thirty to forty and about thirty fighter groups. If I include the twin-engine fighters, then the figure would be about one to one.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is the way you make up the total of about three thousand units?

KESSELRING: The reason why I can give you that figure is because during these months of quiet reflection I made an estimate, without thereby revealing the historical truth.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, do you count as a weapon of defense the bomber, or do you treat that as an offensive weapon?

KESSELRING: I must speak of the bomber in the same way as the dive-bomber and the fighter, equally as a defensive and as an offensive weapon. I explained yesterday that no matter whether defensive or offensive warfare is concerned, the task of the air force must be carried out on the offensive and the targets are far and wide. I also explained that an air force which has only light aircraft is doomed to be destroyed, since it cannot attack the phases of the enemy's aircraft production, his air assembly areas, nor his movements in various sectors.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: In other words, the Luftwaffe was a defensive weapon if you were on the defensive, and an offensive weapon if you were on attack?

KESSELRING: I did not understand the last half of the sentence.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The Luftwaffe would serve as a defensive weapon if you were on the defensive, and as an offensive weapon if you were on attack, is that not true?

KESSELRING: One could put it like that. I would express it differently. As I said, the air force is essentially an offensive weapon, no matter whether it is used for defense or for attack.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think you have improved on my sentence. Now, in the Netherlands, in Poland ...

KESSELRING: May I just say something else on the subject?


KESSELRING: Namely, what I said yesterday at the very end, that the essential of an offensive air force is the long-distance four-engine heavy bombers, and Germany had none of these.


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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: How did it come that Germany had none of those?

KESSELRING: Firstly, because being actually in a period of danger, we were confining ourselves to the absolute essentials of a defensive air force only. Secondly, we tried, in keeping with our characteristics, to achieve as much as possible by precision bombing, in other words, by dive-bombing, utilizing the minimum of war material, and I am here thinking of the Ju 88 as a typical example of that.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were examined by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, were you not, on the 28th of June 1945? Do you recall that?

KESSELRING: Yes, of course.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well, it is quite certain, is it not?

KESSELRING: I have often been interrogated.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, I ask you whether on the 28th of June 1945, you did not say to the officer examining you on behalf of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey this:

"Everything had been done to make the German Air Force from the point of view of airmanship, aircraft, flak, air corps, signals, and so forth, the most formidable in the world. This effort led to the fact that at the beginning of the war, or in 1940 at the latest, from a fighter viewpoint, from a dive-bomber viewpoint, from a combat viewpoint, we had particularly good aircraft, even if the standard was not uniform entirely."
Did you not state that?

KESSELRING: That is still my view today, that as far as material, pursuit planes, dive-bombers, and fighters were concerned, we did in fact have a certain advantage over the other powers.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, as to the failure to have the number of four-engine bombers; that was because of your peaceful intentions, was it, or was it because of mistake in judgment as to what the requirements of war would be?

KESSELRING: To that I must say the following: It would have been insanity on the part of the Air Force leaders to consider producing a complete air force within 3 to 4 years. It was in 1940, at the earliest, that the possibility existed of building up an effective air force which would comply with all requirements. For that reason, in my view, it was an amazing achievement of organization to have attained such effectiveness under the existing limitations.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I understood you to give as one of the indications of your
unaggressive intentions the fact that you had


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not an adequate number of four-engine bombers at the outset of the war. Did I misunderstand you?

KESSELRING: That is an excerpt from the whole story. The strength of the Air Force was, particularly in comparison with the small states, to be regarded as sufficient; certainly not, however, in comparison with powerful opponents who were fully equipped in the MR.

I have an example in mind. In a heated discussion with the Reich Marshal, before the beginning of the Russian campaign, I asked for reinforcements for fighters and dive-bombers. For certain reasons that was refused. The certain reasons were, firstly, shortage of material, and secondly, which I could also gather from the conversation, that the Reich Marshal did not agree with this campaign.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you not testify to the Bomber Investigating Commission of the United States that you intended to build a long-range heavy bomber but -- and I quote your words:

"We had developed the He III and the Ju 88 and they were actually put into the fighting as long-range heavy bombers. The Ju 88 was then used in the French campaign and against England.

"Question: The Ju 88 is not really a long-range bomber?"

Your answer:

"It was considered a long-range bomber at that time, but unfortunately we had a low opinion of the four-engine aircraft, and an erroneous belief which proved to be a mistake in the course of later years."

Is that true?

KESSELRING: That was my opinion.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And the reason you did not build the four-engine aircraft was your low opinion of it?

KESSELRING: May I say the following: That was the conception of a service department; the decisions in all these questions were made in the highest service department.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The highest service department made a mistake about the utility of the four-engine bomber?

KESSELRING: Well, looking at the situation retrospectively, I must say that the absence of a four-engine bomber became extremely awkward.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And that the highest authority in aircraft production was Hermann GOERING. He was the head of the whole plan of aircraft production, was he not?


13 March 46

KESSELRING: Yes, that is correct but it did not exclude the fact that erroneous conceptions of certain measures for the conduct of war or organizational measures may exist temporarily.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were in the Polish campaign you have said?


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Is it not a fact that the German Air Force made the decisive contribution to that campaign as regards the time taken to conquer Poland?

KESSELRING: From the point of view of the Air Force officers I must agree with that conception absolutely, but the army officers did not quite share it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well, you are testifying now as to your opinion. And in that campaign you developed the technique of low level attacks by fighters, light bombers, and dive-bombers against marching columns, and the dive-bomber, the light bomber, and the fighters all contributed to the success of that movement.

KESSELRING: I must admit that. The foundations of the shortrange bombing technique were certainly laid during the Polish campaign.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I turn now to the French campaign. You were in the air in the French campaign, were you not?


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And the Air Force contributed decisively to the success of that campaign, did it not?

KESSELRING: From the point of view of an Air Force officer, I must consider that view as correct.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And you testified, did you not, that Dunkirk would not have been such a catastrophe if the Luftwaffe had not been there? That is true, is it not?

KESSELRING: Dunkirk, did you say? I did not quite understand.


KESSELRING: Yes. In my opinion, that is certain, and it would have been even more so if bad weather had not considerably hindered our operations.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is, the catastrophe would have increased for the English except for bad weather. You had the air force to do a better job at Dunkirk than you did, from your point of view?

KESSELRING: We were grounded for about 2 days.


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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were one of the principal advocates of the plan to invade England, were you not?

KESSELRING: Personally I am of the opinion that, if the war against England was to be brought to a successful end, this end could only be achieved for certain by invasion.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And you had an adequate Air Force after having defeated Poland, defeated Holland, defeated Belgium, and defeated France, so that you advocated proceeding with an invasion of England, did you not?

KESSELRING: I must give an explanation on that point.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: First tell me if that is true.

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, will you please understand that you must answer the question first, and give an explanation afterwards. Every question, or nearly every question, admits of either an affirmative or negative answer, and you will kindly give that answer and make your explanation afterwards.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you not advocate the invasion of England, and was not the Air Force ready to invade England?

KESSELRING: Subject to certain conditions, considering the existing air situation at that time the Air Force was ready to fulfill that task.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And you recommended very strongly to the Reich Marshal that the invasion take place immediately after Dunkirk, did you not?

KESSELRING: Yes, and I still advocated that view later on too.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And the preparations of the Luftwaffe for this invasion were complete, and the invasion was called off only because the procurement of sea-going craft was not sufficient, is that not true?

KESSELRING: Yes. I have to supplement the previous statement by saying that, of course, a certain interval between the French campaign and the English campaign would have had to elapse in order to effect the material replenishment of the air force.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, you also told the Strategic Bombing Survey that Hitler had ordered not only the bombing of military targets, including industrial production, but also the bombing of political targets. Is that true?

KESSELRING: After a certain date, yes.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: That is, to paralyze the government of the enemy. That is what you meant by a political target, did you not?


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KESSELRING: That is not what I mean by political targets. I answered the question differently; I understood it differently, namely, that this order became effective at a later date.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You attended the speech made by Hitler in August of 1939?


MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: At that time you were informed that the attack on Poland would commence immediately or very soon?

KESSELRING: During that conference, the final decision to commence the Polish campaign had not yet been reached. Negotiations were still in progress and we were all still hoping that they would bring favorable results.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were ordered on the 15th of August to get the Luftwaffe in readiness for an attack on Poland?

KESSELRING: This order as such is not known to me in detail, but I must admit that for months before we had made air preparations and erected bases in a general defensive direction, always thinking of a defensive situation.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You expected Poland to attack Germany in the air? Is that your point?

KESSELRING: At any rate, we took this possibility into consideration on our side. The whole political situation was too unknown for us to be able to form a pertinent, incontestable judgment on it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You have said that you never held conferences with Party leaders or talked politics or had any contacts with politicians, in substance, have you not?

KESSELRING: Essentially, yes.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Was not your immediate superior the Number 2 politician of Germany? Did you not know that?

KESSELRING: I did, but I must emphasize that the conversations which I had with the Reich Marshal were 99 percent concerned with military and organizational problems.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: But you knew that he, at all times, was one of the leading men in Nazi politics?

KESSELRING: Certainly.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified that you knew of the order to shoot Soviet Commissars?

KESSELRING: Certainly.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And that you did not approve it and did not carry it out.


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KESSELRING: I did not answer to that effect yesterday.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: What did you answer?

KESSELRING: I answered as follows: That the Air Force, which was not fighting on the ground, was not concerned with this problem, and that an official notification of that order is no longer in my recollection.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Who executed that order? Who was expected to execute it?

KESSELRING: I was in Russia only until November 1941 and I can give you no information on it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you ever hear of the SS?

KESSELRING: Yes, of course.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And is it not a fact that the execution of that order was committed to the SS?

KESSELRING: I knew nothing about that.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: What did you think the SS existed for?

KESSELRING: In my opinion, the SS, as far as it was used in military operations, was a special section of the Army, indeed a sort of guard of the Army.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: The SS was to guard the Army, or to guard whom?

KESSELRING: No, but the SS divisions were, purely from the point of view of men, numbers and material, well above the average Army division as far as equipment and readiness were concerned.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Who was commanding the SS?

KESSELRING: The SS was commanded by Himmler. As far as these divisions were used within the army, they were tactically under the army commanders, commanders of the army groups, or the corps headquarters staffs to which they were attached.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: So far as they had special missions, they were under the command of Himmler, is that right?

KESSELRING: Yes, certainly; a very clear distinction.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified yesterday that you did not consider Hitler's Commando Order binding on you, and that you did not carry out that order, is that right?

KESSELRING: In the Mediterranean theater, yes.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Was that because the order left discretion in your hands, or because you just took discretion into your hands?


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KESSELRING: I made those reservations myself, firstly for ideological considerations, and secondly because in the Mediterranean I had, as I said yesterday, a twofold command, and the German orders could not be included in the general administration without modification.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Well then, the extent to which an order of that kind was carried out depended somewhat on the character and courage of the officer who received it, did it not?

KESSELRING: I would like to express it somewhat differently. These orders could be interpreted in different ways -- that Commando Order, for instance -- insofar as it was certainly quite possible for the Commander-in-Chief to consider an operation either as a special task or as a tactical measure which was militarily justified.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You were in command of the forces in Italy at this time, were you not, at the time of the Commando Order?

KESSELRING: With a difference. I did not have full powers until September 1943.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I will ask to have you shown Document Number 498-PS in evidence as Exhibit Number USA-501.

I call your attention to Paragraph Number 6 of that order which reads as follows:

"I will hold responsible, under military law, for failing to carry out this order, all commanders and officers who either have neglected their duty of instructing the troops about this order, or acted against this order where it was to be executed."

You see that paragraph in the order?

KESSELRING: Yes, I have just read it.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, did you ever report that you were not carrying out this order or did you deceive your superior officers as to whether it was being carried out?

KESSELRING: In one special case that question was treated very decisively at headquarters. This concerned the Commando action "Pescara" where Adolf Hitler ordered the shooting of certain people in spite of the fact that we, my troops and I, wanted to spare them. I think particularly that the influence of Jodl here, as an intermediary, was decisive; namely, that this subject was forgotten and that consequently these people were kept alive, in hospitals and prisoner-of-war camps.

But I should not like to call it deception, the word you used just now, for I wish to emphasize that, in my military sector, I considered actions of this kind as guiding orders, and this Commando Order certainly allowed for several interpretations.


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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: In other words, the extent to which one of these orders was carried out depended on the commanders in charge, is that right, that Hitler could not depend on it that an order as emphatic as this would be carried out by his commanders? Was that the state of the German Army?

KESSELRING: No, not that, but the situation can be explained as follows: If, on the part of an army, such an operation is reported to a superior as a Commando operation in the sense of that order, then the necessary measures would have to be carried out. That depended, however, on the way of reporting by the units concerned, and I already explained in detail yesterday that a unified conception had gradually set in, that men in uniform, who carried out a tactical move, were not Commandos within the meaning of this order.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified today, and another witness has testified here, that if an order of Adolf Hitler was resisted, it meant death. You are also testifying that an absolute order to execute Commandos, under threat of punishment if you failed, left you discretion to do it or not, and I want you once and for all to tell the Tribunal which is the fact, and then we will leave that subject.

KESSELRING: I must repeat what I said before, namely, that the Italian theater of war was not to be compared with the other theaters of war. Through the co-operation of Hitler and Mussolini there was always a very obliging attitude, therefore, these orders made by OKW could not easily be applied to the Italian theater of war.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: They were applied everywhere, so far as you know, except in the Italian theater, then?

KESSELRING: That I cannot say. I have repeatedly explained that I confined myself exclusively to my own sphere of operations, which was considerable.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified, as I understand you, that you punished looting on the part of your soldiers in Italy.

KESSELRING: As soon as I heard of these instances, I punished them, and I most strictly ordered the Army commanders and Air Force commanders to do the same.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Now, the punishment was very mild that you ever inflicted for any looting, was it not?

KESSELRING: I even went so far as to have culprits shot on the spot, and in that manner I succeeded in remedying the disorder which had arisen.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: So a German general, dealing with a German soldier, considers shooting the proper penalty for looting?


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KESSELRING: These far-reaching conclusions are something I cannot admit. On that subject I wish to make the following remarks: If an army -- as was the case with the 14th Army at the time -- fell into a certain disorder, the most severe measures were justified in the interests of the reputation of that army, and in the interests of the population, in order to bring about orderly conditions among the civilian population. I had heated discussion at headquarters on that particular subject.

Apart from that, I was of the opinion that all penalties eventually became useless, and therefore, for some time I considered penalties purely as an educational means and not really as punishment. Consequently for some time, penalties were rather mild.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You testified that you took vigorous steps to protect the art treasures of Italy.

KESSELRING: Insofar as I was informed of art treasures, yes.

MR.JUSTICEJACKSON: What steps did you take, and against whom did you take them?

KESSELRING: Primarily they were preventive measures: First, by excluding places of art and culture from the field of battle; secondly, by having these places cleared if they were liable to air raids by the enemy; and thirdly, by co-operating with General Wolff and having these cultural and art treasures removed to secure places. I make mention of the art treasures of Cassino and Florence.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Did you know that any art treasure was removed from Mount Cassino, for instance, and taken to Berlin?

KESSELRING: Much later, at Mondorf, I heard about that. At the time all I could recollect was that they were handed over to the Vatican in Rome.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: Oh. Did you know that art treasures were taken and delivered to GOERING from Mount Cassino? Did you ever hear that?

KESSELRING: I once heard something about some statue of a saint, but I cannot really give you any more details.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: And if GOERING received such a thing from Mount Cassino, was it a violation of your orders?

KESSELRING: The Hermann GOERING Division was stationed in that sector. It was commanded by the former adjutant of Hermann GOERING, and it is clear that there was a certain connection here, but to what extent I cannot tell you.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I have a few more questions concerning your interrogations.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better break off for 10 minutes.

[A recess was taken.]


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MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: I think, Your Honors, that we will save some duplication -- perhaps save time -- if I now yield to Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, who is prepared on some of the subjects I was about to take up. I think he is in a better position to take up the examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Whatever you think, Mr. Justice Jackson.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE (Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the United Kingdom):
Witness, you have been told why Dr. Stahmer wanted you to give evidence? Have you been told by Dr. Stahmer what to do to give evidence?

KESSELRING: The individual points were communicated to me, without all questions being directly defined.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want to read you one sentence, so that you will have it in mind, of Dr. Stahmer's statement:

"When Rotterdam became a battle zone in May 1940, it became a military necessity to employ bombers, as the encircled fighting parachute troops, who had no support from the artillery, had urgently asked for help from bombers." Do you remember the incident? I wanted you to have it in your mind.

KESSELRING: Yes, certainly.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember being asked about this incident in the interrogation on the 28th of June, by the United States bombing survey? Remember?

KESSELRING: Certainly.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you say there at the question, "What about Rotterdam?"

"Answer: 'First, Rotterdam had been defended in the parts which were later on attacked. Secondly, in this case one could notice that a firm attitude had to be taken. This one attack brought immediate peace to Holland. It was asked for by Model and was approved by the OKW. It was a very small part in the heart of Rotterdam.'" Do you remember saying that?

KESSELRING: Approximately I did say that, yes, and I repeated those words yesterday.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want to deal first with the strategic aspects. I will come to the tactical aspects later. Your strategic purpose and real object was to take a firm attitude and secure immediate peace, was that not right?

KESSELRING: That far-reaching task had not been given to me, but, as I said yesterday, General Wenninger reported the result


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of the attack to me in such a way that close on the attack the total surrender of Holland followed.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But I want you to think of your own words. This was approved by the OKW; a firm attitude had to be taken. Was not your purpose in this attack to secure a strategic advantage by terrorization of the people of Rotterdam?

KESSELRING: That I can deny with the clearest conscience. Neither did I say, when I was at Mondorf, that I had to adopt a firm attitude. I merely said that the support which was demanded by Student would have to be carried out. We only had the one task, and that was to furnish artillery support for Student's troops.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What did you mean by saying that a firm attitude had to be taken, if you did not mean that the people of Holland had to be possibly terrorized into peace.

KESSELRING: May I repeat in that connection that the conception of the expression, "firm attitude," is not in keeping with my accustomed wording. I cannot admit that this word was in the minutes, and it was not read out to me, either.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What do you think you said instead of firm attitude, if you did not say it?

KESSELRING: I remarked that severe measures would bring quick results.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That is exactly what I am putting to you, Witness, "severe measures"...

KESSELRING: But only for the purpose of tactical results. May I once more emphasize that I am a soldier and not a politician, and did not act as a politician. At that time I was merely and solely complying with Student's requirements.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just before I deal with the tactical position -- which I do with great pleasure -- have you had to work with the Defendant Raeder? Have you had to work with the Defendant Raeder at all?

KESSELRING: Admiral Raeder? Only in a general way, insofar as naval questions were concerned.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I just want you to listen to the views which the Defendant Raeder has expressed and tell the Tribunal whether you agree with them. This is United Kingdom Exhibit Number GB-224, Document Number C-157, and here is the transcript in Page 2735 (Volume V, Page 274). Now, just listen carefully, if you will be so kind:

"It is desirable to base all military measures taken on existing international law. However, measures which are considered


13 March 46

David Thompson
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Post by David Thompson » 02 Apr 2005 04:01

Part 3 (Final):

13 March 46

necessary from a military point of view, provided a decisive success can be expected from them, will have to be carried out, even if they are not covered by existing international law."

Do you agree with that?

KESSELRING: I cannot completely agree with that concept. As far as Rotterdam is concerned, conditions were exactly the opposite.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, just for the moment we will deal with the Defendant Raeder's words. Do you agree with them?


DR. LATERNSER: I have an objection. I object to the earlier and to this present question put to the witness, because they are irrelevant, and secondly because they do not refer to facts but opinions. The witness is here to testify to facts.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-YYFE: My Lord, the witness is here, as I pointed out carefully, to deal with what is military necessity.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, the Tribunal thinks that the question in the form in which you put it may be objectionable, by the introduction of the views of the Defendant Raeder.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Of course, I bow to the Tribunal, but this witness is called to say that the explanation for this is military necessity. I was asking whether he did not agree with the views of one of his colleagues on this point, what is military necessity. If the Tribunal has any doubt, I would rather pass it. But the question of military necessity is one which the Tribunal will have to consider in a number of fields, and I respectfully do not abandon that point, which will run through the questions I have to ask on other matters.

[Turning to the witness.] Now, I will come to the tactical position at Rotterdam: Will you just tell the Tribunal who were the officers involved? There was a Lieutenant General Schmidt and with him was Major General Student, who were in charge of the troops that were attacking Rotterdam. Do you remember that?

KESSELRING: Only General Student. General Schmidt is unknown to me.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, the evidence that is given in this case is that the negotiations, the terms of capitulation, were actually written out by Lieutenant General Schmidt in a creamery near Rotterdam. I suppose he would be General Student's superior officer, would he not?


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KESSELRING: General Student was the senior German officer in the Rotterdam sector and the responsible commander. General Schmidt is unknown to me.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So that General Schmidt would be junior to General Student, would he?

KESSELRING: He may have been called in for the special purpose, but I do not know of him.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I want you to have the times in mind: Do you know what time in the day the bombing of Rotterdam started?

KESSELRING: As far as I know, in the early afternoon, about 1400 hours, I believe.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I was going to put to you 1330.

KESSELRING: Yes, that is quite possible.

SIR DAVID MAXVTELIYYFE: Do you know that negotiations for a capitulation had been in progress since 1030 in the morning?

KESSELRING: No; as I said yesterday, I have no knowledge of these facts.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And did you know that at 1215 a Dutch officer, Captain Backer, went to the German lines and saw General Schmidt and General Student, and that General Schmidt wrote out the suggested terms of capitulation at 1235?

KESSELRING: No, that is unknown to me.

SIR DAVID MAXWELIYYFE: That had never been told to you?

KESSELRING: It was not communicated to me. At least, I cannot remember it.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, you see, Witness, it is 35 minutes before the bombing began and ...

KESSELRING: The important factor would have been for Student to call off the attack as such, but that did not happen. The cancellation never reached me, and did not reach my unit either.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I just want you to have the facts in mind, and then I will ask you some questions. The terms that were discussed at 1235 were to expire; the answer was called for at 1620. After Captain Backer left with the terms, at 1322 and 1325 two red flares were put up by the German ground troops under General Student. Did you hear of that?

KESSELRING: I did not hear of that either. Moreover, two red flares would naturally not have sufficed for the purpose.


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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: No, but in addition to that your ground troops were in excellent wireless communication with your planes, were they not? Will you answer the question?

KESSELRING: I already said yesterday...

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Will you please answer the question?

KESSELRING: Yes, and no. So far as I know, there was no immediate communication between the ground station and the aircraft, but, as I said yesterday, from the tactical force, through the ground station, to the aircraft formations.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If it had been wanted to pass the communication to the aircraft and stop the bombing, it could quite easily have been done by wireless, apart from putting up these two red flares?

KESSELRING: In my opinion, yes.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, what I am suggesting is, you see, that everyone saw these bombers coming over. You know that. Student saw the bombers coming over. You know that do you not?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If that attack had any tactical significance about helping your troops, it could have been called off, could it not?

KESSELRING: I did not understand the final sentence.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If the object of this attack was merely tactical, to help in the attack on Rotterdam, it could easily have been called off by a wireless message from General Student to the planes, could it not?

KESSELRING: Yes, if the tactical situation had been communicated, or if the situation had been reported to the bombing units immediately, then there could have been no doubt.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But if in honest negotiations, Witness, terms of surrender have been given and are to expire 3 hours later, it is only demanded of a soldier that he will call off the attack, is it not?

KESSELRING: If no other conditions have been made, yes.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But if he can stop the attack, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to do so. I want to make my suggestion quite clear -- that this tactical matter had nothing to do with the attack on Rotterdam; that the purpose of the attack on Rotterdam was, in your own words, to show a firm attitude and to terrorize the Dutch into surrender.


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KESSELRING: May I repeat again, that I have said explicitly that this attack was only serving the tactical requirements, and that I disassociate myself completely from these political considerations.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, you know that General Student apologized afterwards for the attack; you know that? Apologized to the Dutch commander for the attack?

KESSELRING: I do not know it and, as I explained yesterday, I saw General Student when he was seriously injured, and I could not even talk to him.

SIR DAVID MAXWELI-FYFE: I am not going to take more time. I have put my point, I hope, quite clearly. I want to ask you on one other point on which you spoke yesterday in regard to bombing. You said that the attack on Warsaw on 1 September 1939 was made because you considered Warsaw a defended fortress with air defense. Is that fair?

KESSELRING: Yes, certainly.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, you know that at the same time -- at 5 o'clock on the morning of Friday, 1 September - the German Air Force attacked Augostow, Nowy Dwor, Ostrow Mazowiecki, Tczew, Puck, Zambrow, Radomsko, Toron, Kutno, Krakow, Grodno, Trzebinia, and Gdynia, which is in rather a different position. Just answer my question. The German Air Force attacked these towns?

KESSELRING: With my comrades -- yes. Not the towns, I repeat, not the towns.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, all this attack was made at 5 o'clock on the morning of 1 September, was it not?

KESSELRING: The attack started in the morning, but not, as you put it, on the towns but on military targets; airfields, staff headquarters, and traffic centers were attacked. As I have already explained, very detailed instructions were published by the OKW that only these military targets should be bombed.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You are suggesting that, all these towns I had read out were military targets?

KESSELRING: Insofar as they were in my sector, yes.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You had not had time for a single reconnaisance plane to fly over Poland before that attack was made, had you?

KESSELRING: That is correct. On the other hand, agents and others furnished sufficient intelligence on the situation and, apart from that, this whole plan was absolutely controlled by operational considerations of air warfare.


13 March 46

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Of course, the whole plan had been worked out in April of 1939 under the Fall Weiss, had it not?

KESSELRING: At that time I did not even know that I was going to be concerned in it, or that war would be declared.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Did you not know, Witness, after you were appointed, that a Fall Weiss had been worked out in April 1939? You were never told that?

KESSELRING: That was not said, but, on the other hand, may I say, as a soldier, that a general plan made in April would undergo many alterations by September, and decisive alterations might still have to be made even at the very last minute.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just one other point I want you to have in mind. Do you remember that the German radio broadcast the last note to Poland at 9 o'clock the night before, on 31 August? Do you remember that?

KESSELRING: I believe I do.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: That was 8 hours before your attack, and you know, do you not, that the Defendant GOERING had been at his secret headquarters for a week before that, considering this matter?

KESSELRING: That I can well imagine, if on the ...

SIR DAVTID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, what I am putting to you is that this general attack on Polish towns was again a well-planned scheme to try and break down natural resistance for your attack?

KESSELRING: May I say the following on that subject? If my statements as Field Marshal and witness under oath are considered as little as you are considering them, Mr. Prosecutor, then further statements of mine do not serve any purpose. I have emphasized that it was not an attack against towns, but an attack on military targets, and you must finally believe me when I say that as a soldier.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: The Tribunal will decide as to the value of the evidence. I am not going to discuss it. I am just going to ask you about one or two other matters, in order to get your view on it, what you consider to be of military necessity. You remember the orders with regard to partisans in Italy during the time of your command? The orders with regard to partisans?

KESSELRING: Certainly.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And I want to put it perfectly correctly, so tell me if
I am wrong, but I understand this to be the position. The Defendant Keitel issued a general order as to partisans on 16 December 1942. A copy was found in your headquarters or your ex-headquarters, and your recollection is that it came to your


13 March 46

attention later on, but you are not quite sure of the date. Is that right? You are not quite sure of the time?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I would like you to try, because you have had time to consider it; do you think that Keitel's order of December 1942 had come to your attention before you issued your own order of 17 June 1944? Perhaps you would like to see your own order, would you?

KESSELRING: It was read out to me; but in November, then again in December, and subsequently in January, I requested that I should be heard once more on these questions and these orders, as I had certain doubts about the issuing of these orders, the distribution, the persons to whom they were sent, and the date.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I will pass you the orders, Witness, because you ought to see them and recall them to your recollection. I do not think they have been put in before. Let us take first Defendant Keitel's order of 16 December 1942.

[The document was submitted to the witness.]

I hope I have passed you the right document. Does it read -- I will read it very slowly.

"The Fuehrer has therefore ordered that:

"1. The enemy employs, in partisan warfare, communist-trained fanatics who do not hesitate to commit any atrocity. It is more than ever a question of life and death. This fight has nothing to do with soldierly gallantry or principles of the Geneva Convention. If the fight against the partisans in the East, as well as in the Balkans, is not waged with the most brutal means, we will shortly reach the point where the available forces are insufficient to control this area.

"It is therefore not only justified, but it is the duty of the troops to use all means without restriction, even against women and children, as long as it insures success. Any consideration for the partisans is a crime against the German people."

Do you remember that order?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And you in turn issued an order on the 17th of June 1944 when you were commanding in Italy? Do you remember that? I will show you in one moment, if I can get the German copy out of the file. I will just read a short passage again so that the Tribunal will have it in mind; but Witness, please refer to any other passage because I want to give a fair effect of the order:


13 March 46

"1. The partisan situation in the Italian theater, particularly central Italy, has recently deteriorated to such an extent that it constitutes a serious danger to the fighting troops and their supply lines, as well as to the war industry and economic potential. The fight against the partisans must be carried on with all means at our disposal and with the utmost severity. I will protect any commander who exceeds our usual restraint in the choice of severity of the methods he adopts against partisans. In this connection the old principle holds good, that a mistake in the choice of methods in executing one's orders is better than failure or neglect to act."

Do you remember that, Witness?

KESSELRING: Yes, I remember that order.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And you remember 3 days later, so that there will be no mistake as to what you meant, you issued this further one, another top-secret order. Reading the third line after saying, "The announcement does not represent an empty threat," you say:

"It is the duty of all troops and police in my command to adopt the severest measures. Every act of violence committed by partisans must be punished immediately. Reports submitted must also give details of countermeasures taken. Wherever there is evidence of considerable numbers of partisan groups, a proportion of the male population of the area will be arrested; and in the event of an act of violence being committed, these men will be shot." Now, I just want only to take two examples, Witness, of the way that that was carried out. You remember when one of your officers, Colonel Von Gablenz, was captured by partisans; do you remember?

KESSELRING: General Von Gablenz?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think he was a colonel at this stage, it was the 26th of June, just after your order. You remember Colonel Von Gablenz being captured, do you?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: He was a colonel of the lines of communication; not a very important officer, but still a colonel.

KESSELRING: Yes, I remember.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, just look at these two documents. Is this right? -- this is an extract from the daily situation report by the Commander-in-Chief of Southwest Italy for the 26th of June.

"Partisan situation. North of Arezzo, Colonel Von Gablenz, a member of the staff of the officer commanding lines of communication, area 10th Army, was captured by bandits. The


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entire male population of the villages on the stretch of road concerned was taken into custody."

It was further announced that all these hostages would be shot if the captured colonel were not set free within 48 hours. Remember that?

KESSELRING: Not in detail, but in general ...

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: No, no, but do you remember the incident?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Look at the next bit which is the 2-day situation report, the report for 2 days later, the 28th of June, the second paragraph: "As reprisal for the capture of Colonel Freiherr Von Gablenz, so far 560 persons, including 250 men, have been taken into custody."

Is that your conception of what is meant by "steps necessary to deal with partisan warfare" that 410 women and children should be taken into custody?

KESSELRING: That was not necessary, but in connection with this I may ...

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let us take one other example. You remember Civitella?

You remember what was done with Civitella by your forces, do you not?

KESSELRING: At the moment, no.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, just let me remind you what was done at Civitella -- that was on the 18th of June, one day after your order.

"Two German soldiers were killed and a third wounded in a fight with partisans in the village of Civitella. Fearing reprisals, the inhabitants evacuated the village, but when the Germans discovered this, punitive action was postponed. On June 29" -- that, you will remember, Witness, was 9 days after your proclamation to reinforce your order -- "when the local inhabitants were returned and when feeling secure once more, the Germans carried out a well-organized reprisal, combing the neighborhood. Innocent inhabitants were often shot on sight. During that day 212 men, women, and children in the immediate district were killed. Some of the dead women were found completely naked. In the course of investigations, a nominal roll of the dead has been compiled and is complete with the exception of a few names whose bodies could not be identified. Ages of the dead ranged from 1 year to 84 years.

Approximately one hundred houses were


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destroyed by fire. Some of the victims were burned alive in their homes."

That is the report of the United Nations War Crimes Commission on the incident. Now, Witness, do you really think that military necessity commands the killing of babies of 1 and people of 84?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, I just want to acquaint you with one subject which you have dealt with yourself, that is the position of the Hermann GOERING Division. You mentioned one of the persons I have in mind, but let me just, in order to make it clear to the Tribunal, get clear who your officers were at that time.

Did General Vietinghoff -- sorry, I think it was Von Vietinghoff -- did he command the 10th Army?




SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Was he directly under your orders?

KESSELRING: Yes, he was under my command.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Then I take it he is a fairly senior and responsible general. I do not know his rank -- full general or ...

KESSELRING: Full general.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And under him was the 76th Corps, was it not, commanded by General Herr; is that correct?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And under General Herr was a Hermann GOERING Division, commanded by General Schmalz, whom you mentioned this morning; is that right?

KESSELRING: General Von Schmalz commanded, but previously I mentioned another name.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think it was Schmalz at this time. Now, the Hermann GOERING Division had been concerned in a number of three -- I call them incidents; I would not say -- what I mean by incidents is the sort of thing which I have been describing at Civitella. Let me remind you of one or two. Do you remember at Stia, on the 13th to the 18th of April, 137 civilians were killed, including 45 women and children; do you remember that incident? Civitella, that was on the 29th of June. And do you remember Buchini on the 7th and 9th of July; do you remember an incident at Buchini?


13 March 46

KESSELRING: It is possible, but I would have to study the details first.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Perhaps you will remember this. I will put it to you generally, Witness, because it is a perfectly general course of conduct, and there were a number of these incidents in which the Hermann GOERING Division was engaged. Do you remember that?

KESSELRING: There were many incidents like that on both sides, and I would first have to study the exact details of the question.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, this is what I really want you to apply your mind to. Is it correct that the Hermann GOERING Division was only under General Herr and General Von Vietinghoff for tactical purposes, and reported each day to Berlin to Reich Marshal GOERING as to what they were doing?

KESSELRING: The Hermann GOERING Division was under the General Command and the Army for tactical purposes, but I must assume that, in these questions, subordination to the General Command and the Army actually did exist. Whether there were any matters operating outside that, I do not know.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I will put the words exactly, and you can see where I have the words from the way I put them:

"The 1st Airborne Division and the Hermann GOERING Division came under the army commanders only as regards tactics; for all other questions, on the other hand, directly under the Reich Marshal, to whom they had to send daily reports. They were not permitted to receive orders from the army commanders concerning criminal proceedings, nor to report the results of such proceedings. Thus they carried on the war against guerrillas according to principles which to some extent deviated from those of the Army."

Is that a correct statement?

KESSELRING: That conception is correct, but the question is, perhaps, that the word "tactics" can, of course, be understood in a somewhat wider or narrower sense.


KESSELRING: Tactics. That this tactical subordination can be understood either in a wider or a narrower sense.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Witness, that is why I read the whole thing to you, because it is quite clear what the person's statement I am reading means there, is it not? He says that they were not permitted to receive orders from the army commanders on criminal proceedings or to report the results, and that they carried


13 March 46

on the war against guerrillas according to principles which deviated from those of General Von Vietinghoff, did they not?

KESSELRING: This is the first time that I have heard of this, but if another officer has said so then I must assume it is correct.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, are you sure it is the first time that you have heard about it? It is very difficult to remember every incident. Please, do not think that I want to be offensive, but I want you to try to remember. Did not General Herr make numerous complaints to you about this anomalous position with regard to the Hermann GOERING Division, and did you never give any official reply to General Herr's reports?

KESSELRING: Numerous reports certainly did not arrive from General Herr. There may have been verbal consultations ...

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: In your command post?

KESSELRING: Yes. And may I add once more that such definitions of attitude were definitely in existence within the army group. With regard to the case concerned, I must say that I do not know whether this comes under the heading "tactics" or belongs to another function.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I am not really putting the point to you quite clearly. What I am suggesting is this: If you disagree with "numerous," will you accept "some," that on some occasions General Herr reported to you that he was in difficulties through this anomalous position of the Hermann GOERING Division?

KESSELRING: That I can assume.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Your Chief of Staff at this time was General Roettiger, was he not?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: From the 10th of June onwards, just over this time, did not General Roettiger also talk to you about the position of the Hermann GOERING Division being under the special protection of Reich Marshal GOERING in Berlin?

KESSELRING: Yes. We discussed that subject quite a lot.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, as far as the particular incident, in which the Hermann GOERING Division was involved, is concerned they took their orders from the Defendant GOERING, who is sitting at the dock, did they not, as to how they were to treat the partisans?

KESSELRING: I could not tell you that. Those channels bypassed me.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes; they bypassed you. They bypassed General Herr, they bypassed Vietinghoff, they bypassed you, and went straight to Berlin. That is right, is it not?


13 March 46

KESSELRING: Yes, certainly. That was the special channel for the SS and for the Hermann GOERING Division.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. You see, at the moment the Tribunal is dealing with the case of the Defendant GOERING. That is why I ask you these questions. Now, just one or two short points. You remember Dr. Laternser asking you one or two questions about the High Command and the General Staff. Do you remember Dr. Laternser asking you some questions?

KESSELRING: Yes, I am aware of that.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I wanted just to clear one part out of the way altogether. You must have realized, Witness, that the body that is mentioned in this case has nothing to do with the Staff Corps of the German Army. I think you made that clear yourself yesterday.

KESSELRING: With what did you say?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: With the staff corps. You had, both in the Army and the Air Force, a corps of officers who had gone through the Military Academy and were staff officers of all ranks, I suppose down to captain, had you not?

KESSELRING: The question is not quite clear to me.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am sorry. You had in both the Army and the Luftwaffe a staff corps of officers who had been to Military Academy and were thereafter staff officers. And they had, I think, the right of reporting directly to the Chief of Staff if they wanted to? Is that not so? Is that right or wrong?

KESSELRING: That is not correct, except, as I said yesterday, as far as education was concerned. As far as the general attitude was concerned, the General Chief of Staff had the right to influence General Staff officers directly; but the other way around, no.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, that corps went right down, I suppose, to captain or lieutenant, did it not?

KESSELRING: No, captain.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I thought that was it. May I tell you, we are not interested in that corps at all. The Prosecution are not interested in that corps at all.
Now, with regard to the persons who are named in the Indictment, you know there are nine commander-in-chief or staff positions named, and then the Oberbefehlshaber, who commanded in certain areas or commanded certain fleets of the Luftwaffe. You have looked at that, I suppose, have you?



13 March 46

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I am trying to put it shortly, Witness, so that we would not take time. I just want you to consider this. Are not these people who are mentioned -- that is, the heads of the OKW, OKH, OKM, OKL, and their deputies and the Oberbefehlshaber -- the officers in the German Armed Forces who would have had most to do with the policy and planning of wars?

KESSELRING: The commanders-in-chief of the branches of the Armed Forces were of course the advisory organs of the Supreme Head of the State in all mifitary-political questions. The commanders-in-chief of Army Groups had no influence whatever.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I would like you to take the case of two examples. I think you were present at both of these. Before the attack on Poland there was a meeting on the 22d of August, which has been mentioned here before. Did that consist of these higher officers that I mentioned, the heads of the various branches, and also of the Oberbefehlshaber?

KESSELRING: It consisted of the commanding officers of the war in that theater.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Yes. Well, at that time the sector which was going to be the subject of war was Poland. At that time the main purpose was considering the Polish campaign, was it not? The main purpose of that meeting, I suppose, was to consider the Polish campaign with the possibility of a campaign against the Western Powers if they came in?

KESSELRING: About that I can give you no information. Generally speaking we discussed only Polish questions.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, the Tribunal has heard about that meeting so often I am not going to ask about it. I am only getting from you the people who were there.

Now, let me remind you of another meeting. On the 9th of June 1941 there was a conference -- Barbarossa -- for the attack on the Soviet Union. Do you remember that? Berchtesgaden.

KESSELRING: Whether it was on the 9th of June, I do not know. But I did take part in one conference.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You were there, and again, before the Russian campaign, the people who were there were the holders of these supreme positions and the Oberbefehlshaber, were they not?

KESSELRING: That is correct.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Including those that had territorial commands, like, for
example, General Von Falkenhorst, who


13 March 46

was the Army High Commander in Norway at that time? He was there?

KESSELRING: General Von Falkenhorst?


KESSELRING: It is quite possible.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: General Stumpf of Air Fleet 5, and, if I may, I do not know what the ranks were so I just give the names. Rundstedt, Reichenau, Stulpnagel, Schubert, Kleist, and of course Bock, Kluge, Guderian, Halder, Kesselring?

KESSELRING: The latter were certainly there. As for Stumpf and Falkenhorst, I cannot say.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So that before a campaign it was customary for the holders of these high positions to meet, was it not -- to meet the Fuehrer?

KESSELRING: Certainly.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, I just want you to help me on one other small point. Do you remember saying yesterday to Dr. Laternser that the members of this alleged group were far too concerned with high matters of strategy to have anything to do with Fifth Columnists? Do you remember saying that, words to that effect?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I do not know if you know, but outside Germany the name Quisling has become an ordinary word of use as an alternative to Fifth columnist. Did you know that? You talk about a Quisling meaning a Fifth Columnist. You have not heard that?

KESSELRING: No, I did not know that.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You know who Quisling was?

KESSELRING: Yes, indeed I do.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I would just like you to listen to this, because it concerns your service. The Defendant Rosenberg in January 1940 wrote to the Fuehrer as follows:

"Assuming that his" -- that is, Quisling -- "statements would be of special interest to the Marshal of the Reich, GOERING, for aero-strategical reasons, Quisling was referred to State Secretary Korner by the Foreign Affairs Office."

Did he come to you at all for aero-strategical reasons?

KESSELRING: No, that is unknown to me.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Now, did you know that the Defendant Raeder introduced Quisling to Hitler in December 1939? Did you know that?


13 March 45

KESSELRING: No, that is unknown to me.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You agree that the head of the German Air Force and the head of the German Navy are important members of this group of commanders-in-chief, are they not?

KESSELRING: Supreme commanders, yes.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: If they were dealing with the typical columnist, perhaps members of the group had more to do with Fifth Columnists than you knew.

KESSELRING: Yesterday I merely spoke from the point of view of the supreme commanders on the front and our tasks were in a different sphere.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: My Lord, I think I have finished, but perhaps your Lordship would allow me just over the adjournment to see if there is any small point.
My Lord, the other thing is this. I think we ought to put in these documents to which I have referred, because the Defense may want to deal with them later on.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, if they have not already been put in.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I think some of the orders have not been put in. I have read part of them into the record, and I will put them in.

THE PRESIDENT: They must be put in and marked then.

[The Tribunal recessed until 1400 hours.]


13 March 46

Afternoon Session

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Will you direct your attention to the text after the bomb plot in Rome on 23 March 1944. Do you remember what I have in mind -- the bomb plot in Rome? Remember? At that time your Chief of Staff was General Westphal, and he reported the plot directly to General Buettler? Perhaps you will help me as to the pronunciation?



KESSELRING: General Winter.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Didn't he report to a General Buettler, spelled B-u-e-t-t-l-e-r?

KESSELRING: Von Buttlar.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: General Von Buttlar?

KESSELRING: That was his predecessor.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: General Von Buttlar informed your Chief of Staff that he would have to report the matter to the Fuehrer, is that right?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And he got in touch with the Defendant Jodl, and the Defendant Jodl and the Defendant Keitel reported the matter to the Fuehrer?

KESSELRING: That is probably correct.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: The Fuehrer gave an order that either 20 or 10 -- you aren't quite sure which, but you rather think 20 -- Italians should be killed?

KESSELRING: I believe that that is a report from Westphal, which I must assume is correct.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Can you remember, Witness, whether it was 20 or 10 now?

KESSELRING: I assume 10, 1 do not know the exact number.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You do not know the exact number?

KESSELRING: I assume 10.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: We will take it as 10 for the moment.

The competent authority for Rome was General Von Mackensen, was it not?


13 March 46

KESSELRING: General Mackensen was Commander-in-Chief of the 14th Army, and the commander of Rome was subordinate to him.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And the person, to use your words, who advised him on this matter was a man called Kappler, wasn't he?

KESSELRING: Kappler, of the Security Service.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What was he? An ObergruppenFuehrer or something like that?

KESSELRING: ObersturmbannFuehrer.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You remember, after some comments in the Osservatore Romano you had an inquiry directed into the incident by your intelligence officer whose name was Zolling, don't you?

KESSELRING: Yes, that is correct.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And you also got a report from Kappler himself, did you not?

KESSELRING: Kappler merely had a brief report relayed to me by telephone to the effect that he had a corresponding number of condemned men available. SIR DAVID

MAXWELL-FYFE: Didn't Kappler tell you that he had executed 382 people?

KESSELRING: The execution lay in the hands of the 14th Army and I finally received merely the news of its being carried out without any further explanation, and had no direct conversation with Kappler.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Are you sure of that?

KESSELRING: At the end -- I expressly emphasize this once more -- I conversed with him briefly by telephone, after I had arrived at my command post and this report had been given me, as I said earlier. Otherwise I can recall no further direct communication. I do remember that perhaps 8 or 10 days later I met him and I told him that I was to a certain extent grateful to him that this very distasteful matter had been settled in a way which was legally and morally above reproach.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Let us see what you had to be grateful for. You were interrogated about this on the 8th of January. Do you remember being asked this question? "Then Zolling didn't tell you that all this number that was executed had previously been convicted of some crime punishable by death?" And you answered, "Yes, I said that already. Yes, he did that.. Even Kappler had told me that."


13 March 46

KESSELRING: Yes, that is correct.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: So the explanation which you say was given to you was that they took a number of people, 382 1 suggest, who had been guilty of other crimes and executed them as a reprisal for the bomb plot, isn't that right?

KESSELRING: That is correct, on the assumption that these people had been sentenced to death.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: This has already been put to you. This is Kappler's account -- that of the 382, 176 had committed acts punishable by death; 22 were people whose cases were marked "closed"; 17 had been sentenced to terms of labor; 4 had actually been condemned to death; 4 had been arrested near the scene of the crime. That made 223.

Didn't Kappler say to you, "Later the number of victims rose to 325 and I decided to add 57 Jews?" Didn't Kappler give you these figures?


SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But you agree with this, that a large number of persons were executed in consequence of the order to kill 10 Italians, or maybe 20 Italians, for one German who had been killed?

KESSELRING: I admit that, on the assumption, as I have already stated, that these were people who had already been convicted.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: But it didn't make any difference to you whether they had been convicted for the bomb outrage or for any other offense?

KESSELRING: The situation was as follows: The Garigliano battle had begun to rage on the Southern Front. At that time a bomb attack was made on a police company by people of Rome, who had been treated with unparalleled mildness until then. The excitement on the German side was such that I, as well as the officers under my command, including Embassy Counsellor Moellhausen, had to do anything we could to calm the agitation. Therefore on the one side, and on the other, something had to be done -- something which seemed to me the most expedient measure for preventing such incidents, namely a public humiliation, a notification that nothing could be undertaken against the German Army without consequences being faced. For me that was the essential point; whether X or Y was involved in this outrage was for me a question of small importance. This alone was of primary importance -- that public opinion should be quieted in the shortest possible time, on the Roman as well as on the German side.


13 March 46

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Your prior point was to take a third attitude, or some people might say, "terrorize" the population, so that they would not repeat or do anything against the German Army.

KESSELRING: I do not know -- this expression comes from the Rotterdam examination. As far as I know and believe I did not use this expression. I have to repeat that I stood, if I may say so, on ideally friendly terms with the Italians - for this very reason I was called to Italy -- and that I had the most compelling reason to win friendship and not to sow enmity; and I intervened there, and certainly in a decisive way, only because it was a matter of cutting off the root of this evil growth within a short time.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: I asked you various questions about your acts of friendship to the Italians this morning and I am not going back to them. I only want to ask you one other point about which perhaps you will be able to relieve my mind. On the 2d of November 1943 were you the commanding general in Italy, that is, after you became ...

KESSELRING: May I add something to the first point?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You must come on to this point, and I want you to tell whether you were the commanding general in Italy on the 2d of November 1943? Were you?

KESSELRING: Since November, since 2 November 1943?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Do you remember sending a telegram to the OKW that three British Commandos taken prisoner near Pescara were to be given special treatment? That means murder, "special treatment"; it means that they were killed by the SS.

KESSELRING: No. I beg your pardon.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: What do you mean by "special treatment"?

KESSELRING: That these people at Pescara, as I have already mentioned once today, were not shot, but rather the wounded were taken to a hospital and, as far as I recall, the unwounded to a prisoner-of-war camp.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: There were nine others who were taken to a hospital and three, according to your telegram got "special treatment" and nine others were taken to hospitals. I was going to ask you about those taken to hospitals. What did you do with people who came under the Commando Order who were taken to hospitals?

KESSELRING: As I have already stated before, they were treated according to the principles of the Hague Convention as generally practiced.


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SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well, I am not going to argue with you whether the Commando Order was in accordance with the Hague Convention. We know what the Commando Order was, that people taken in Commandos were to be shot. What I am asking you is, supposing some Commandos had the misfortune to be wounded, what happened to them?

KESSELRING: According to the text of this order they would have to be shot. I stated before that this order in this case -- I assume with the collaboration of General Jodl -- was carried out in the normal fashion.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: There is heard evidence in this Court that in Vilna it was the practice of the SS to kill offhand newborn Jewish babies in hospitals. Can you give me your assurance that Commando troops who were wounded and taken to hospitals were not killed offhand.

KESSELRING: I assure you that I was not informed of any execution of this sort and would also not have tolerated it.


THE PRESIDENT: Does the Prosecution wish any further cross-examination? Then, Dr.
Stahmer, do you wish to re-examine?

DR. STAHMER: The British Prosecution has just submitted new facts which were not known until now, especially about the shooting of hostages, which was carried out in Italy by the Hermann GOERING Division in connection with the combating of partisans and for which the Defendant GOERING apparently is to be made responsible. In this connection new documents were submitted. At the moment I am not in the position to answer these facts and these serious charges, and to put pertinent questions to the witness.
After a careful examination of the material, I shall submit the appropriate motions and I ask for the opportunity to make a statement as to whether I need further witnesses and have to recall the witness Kesselring. I shall of course limit myself to submitting only absolutely necessary requests for evidence within the framework of the accusations just made, in order to prevent an unnecessary prolongation of the trial.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal thinks that you must re-examine the witness now and that if you wish to make an application hereafter to recall the witness you will have to show very strong grounds for doing it. You may make written application to recall the witness at a later stage, but I would point out to you that the cross-examination of this witness has not been relevant solely to the case of the Defendant GOERING. He is a member of the


13 March 46

General Staff and, as it was pointed out to him at the opening of one part of the cross-examination, he is one of the accused persons as such, and the evidence, therefore, may be relevant to GOERING, or it may have been relevant to the General Staff. Is that clear to you?

DR. STAHMER: Yes, I quite follow; but I can naturally put questions to a witness only if I am in possession of the facts. I am not in such a position today because documents were referred to which are completely unknown to me, and, as far as I know, the Prosecution has the intention of making this material available to us.

THE PRESIDENT: Documents were put to the witness and, as I say, the Tribunal will consider any application which you make hereafter to have this witness recalled, but you may continue now with your re-examination and finish with the witness.

DR. STAHMER: At present I have no further questions to address to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Then the witness can retire.

[The witness left the stand.]

User avatar
Jeremy Dixon
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Post by Jeremy Dixon » 06 Feb 2007 12:22

Interested to read that Kesselring states he led the attack on Coventry - now this may seem an obvious question so I apologise before hand, does that mean he acxtually lead the attack in an aircraft over Coventry ??


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Post by steve248 » 09 Feb 2007 15:50

An interesting book on Kesselring's postwar problems over his war crimes resulting in his trial by the British, can be found (in German)

Kerstin von Lingen
"Kesselrings letzte Schlacht.
Kriegsverbrecherprozesse, Vergangenheitspolitik und Wiederbewaffnung:
Der Fall Kesselring"
Schöningh, Paderborn/Germany, 2004
(as some good photos and for 35 Euros/24 English pounds/46 US dollars)

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