The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th February to 11th March, 1946

Seventy-Seventh Day: Friday, 8th March, 1946
(Part 3 of 9)

[DR. STAHMER continues his direct examination of General von Bodenschatz]

[Page 233]

Q. When and on what occasion did Goering give you his opinion on the Russian campaign?

A. Towards the end of 1941, after the first reverses in the Russian campaign, Hermann Goering talked with me about the fighting in the East. He said to me: "Adolf Hitler foresaw a very hard battle in the East, but he did not count on such reverses. Before the beginning of this campaign, I tried in vain to dissuade Adolf Hitler from his plan of attacking Russia. I reminded him that he himself, in his book, Mein Kampf, was opposed to a war on two fronts, and, in addition, I pointed out that the main forces of the German Luftwaffe would be occupied in the East, and England, whose air industry was hit, would breathe again and be able to recover."

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off for ten minutes?

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has observed that the witness is using notes whilst giving his evidence. The ruling which I announced this morning was confined to the defendants and did not extend to witnesses. Nevertheless, the Tribunal will allow the same rule to be applied to witnesses. But the evidence must not be read, the purpose of the rule being merely to assist recollection in giving evidence.

Yes, Dr. Stahmer.

(Direct Examination continued.)


Q. Do you know whether people turned to the Reichsmarshal with the request that their relatives should be freed from concentration camps or to help them in their difficulties with the Gestapo?

A. The Chief of Staff is the person who can answer that question. I myself only heard that such requests were directed to the Reichsmarshal.

Q. Did you not have to deal with such requests in the military section?

A. In the military section I had to deal with the requests which were concerned with the Luftwaffe. But they were only requests regarding the arrests of German citizens who stated that they had not been given the reason for arrest. We also received communications regarding "aryanisation" grievances and also regarding arrests of Jews. Requests of this kind came to me only from Luftwaffe sources or from my immediate circle of acquaintances.

Q. How were such requests treated?

A. Such requests were always treated as follows:-

Most of the requests, which came from the broad masses of the people, were submitted to the Reichsmarshal through the Staff. Those requests that came from the Luftwaffe fell into my sphere of activity, and requests that came from the Reichsmarshal's relatives or friends he himself handled. The Reichsmarshal did

[Page 234]

not refuse his help in these cases. In individual cases he asked the Fuehrer personally for a decision.

In all cases that I dealt with help could be given.

Q. Did many Jews turn to Goering with requests for help?

A. Yes, Jews, and particularly Jews of mixed blood applied to Reichsmarshal Goering.

Q. How were these requests handled?

A. The Reichsmarshal did not deny his help and he gave instructions that, whenever possible, help should be given.

Q. What was Goering's general attitude to human society?

A. Goering's attitude to human society was as follows:

In his feelings, thoughts and actions, as far as human society was concerned, he was a benefactor to all in need. He was always ready to help those who were in need, for instance, sick people, wounded, the relatives of those who had been killed in the war, and of prisoners of war.

Care for the working classes was particularly important to him. Here is an example of this: The introduction of miners' compensation; every miner who had completed twenty-five years of steady work should receive over twenty thousand marks. This is one of his most important social works.

Q. Did you know of the conditions in the concentration camps?

A. I had no knowledge of the conditions in the concentration camps.

Q. Were the concentration camps spoken of at the Fuehrer Headquarters during discussions with the Fuehrer, or on any other occasion?

A. In the Fuehrer Headquarters I never heard the Fuehrer speak about the concentration camps. He never discussed them in our circle.

Q. Was the question of the annihilation of the Jews discussed there?

A. No, it was not.

Q. Not even in discussions on the war situation?

A. No, I cannot remember his ever discussing the annihilation of the Jews in my presence during the discussions on the war situation.

Q. Did anyone else there mention anything?

A. No.

Q. Not Himmler?

A. Himmler never discussed the subject. I have only heard since being in prison, that Himmler's reply to people who spoke to him on this matter was: "What you have heard is not true, it is incorrect." I personally did not discuss this question with Himmler.

Q. Did you know how many concentration camps there were?

A. Everyone knew that the camps existed, but I was not aware that so many existed. It was only after the war that I learned the names of Mauthausen and Buchenwald from the newspaper. I only know of the camp of Dachau, because I happen to come from Bavaria.

Q. Did you never hear of the atrocities either?

A. No, I never heard of the atrocities. The very first time I heard was last year, when I reported to the Reichsmarshal - to be exact it was the middle of March 1945 - when I reported my departure on sick leave; the Reichsmarshal told me during lunch that very many Jews must have perished there and that we should have to pay dearly for it. That was the first time that I heard of crimes against the Jews.

DR. STAHMFR: I have no further questions. I can now turn over the witness to the other defence counsel and the prosecution.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any defence counsel wish to ask any questions of this witness?

[Page 235]

BY DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the OKW):

I have only a few questions to ask this witness.

Q. Witness, in your capacity as liaison officer of the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe at the Fuehrer Headquarters, you took part, as you have already mentioned, in the discussions on the war situation. Did you also take part in discussions on the war situation when front line commanders were making their reports to Hitler?

A. I personally did not take part in such discussions. I was, however, present at two discussions, in the adjoining room, once when Field-Marshal von Kleist was there for a conference, and the second time when the leader of the Crimea Army was present to make a report, after the evacuation of the Crimea.

I was, as I said, not actually present at those conferences, but I heard in the adjoining room that there were some differences of opinion between Hitler and the commander in question as they were raising their voices. That is all I can say.

Q. Did you hear enough to follow the trend of this discussion?

A. No, I could not follow the trend nor the substance of these discussions.

DR. LATERNSER: In that case I have no further questions.

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

Then, does the prosecution wish to ask any questions?



Q. May it please the Tribunal: You are at the present time a prisoner of war of the United States?

A. I beg your pardon. Could you please repeat the question. I did not understand it.

Q. You are at the present time a prisoner of war of the United States?

A. At the present time I am a prisoner of war of the United States.

Q. You have been interrogated on a number of occasions by representatives of the United States?

A. I was interrogated several times by representatives of the United States.

Q. You have also had a number of consultations with Dr. Stahmer who has just examined you?

A. I had several discussions with Dr. Stahmer who has just addressed questions to me.

Q. Those questions were addressed to you some time ago and you prepared your answers in writing?

A. These questions were submitted to me beforehand and I was able to prepare my answers.

Q. Coming to the subject of the concentration camps and the activities of your department in releasing persons from them, as I understand, a large number of applications came to the Goering office for release from concentration camps?

A. I stated before that the requests for release from concentration camps did not come to my department but to the Staff office. I received only the requests and complaints in which people begged for help because they had been arrested, among them Jews who were destined for arrest.

Q. And were those applications that did come to you numerous?

A. My sector only covered the Luftwaffe. There were perhaps ten to twenty such applications.

Q. And those applications were from persons who were threatened with imprisonment or had been imprisoned, or both?

A. Partly from people who were threatened with arrest, and partly from people who had already been arrested.

[Page 236]

Q. And in each case, as I understand you, you intervened to help them?

A. On the instructions of the Reichsmarshal, I helped in all cases that were submitted to me.

Q. And did you know of any other cases that came to the Staff in which help was not given to the imprisoned persons?

A. I do not know anything about that. I only heard from Dr. Witzbach, Chief of Staff, that the requests that came to him also were settled in a humane way.

Q. Now, were the persons that you intervened for innocent of crime or were you helping out those who were guilty of crime?

A. Those I helped were innocent people.

Q. So, it came to your notice that innocent people were being put in concentration camps?

A. Could you please repeat that question.

Q. It came to your notice that innocent people then were being put in concentration camps?

A. Had not been put into concentration camps, but were destined for them.

Q. I thought you said you intervened for some who had been arrested.

A. Yes; they were not taken to concentration camps. I will give you a practical example. A comrade of mine, from the Richthofen Squadron, a Jew by the name of Luther, was arrested by the Gestapo, that is to say, he was not taken to a concentration camp, but first was simply arrested by the Gestapo. His lawyer informed me. I informed the Reichsmarshal of this case, and the Reichsmarshal instructed me to have this man freed from his temporary custody by the Gestapo in Hamburg. He was not yet in a concentration camp. So far as I know this case happened in 1943.

Q. What was he charged with when he was arrested?

A. He was arrested because he was a Jew and he had been told that he had committed an offence against decency, in that he had been with an Aryan woman in a hotel.

Q. And did you make any inquiries as to whether the charge was true?

A. I did not have to make such inquiries because I had no difficulty in obtaining his release. When I called up, he was released and thereafter stayed under the protection of Hermann Goering.

Q. Whom did you call up to get his release?

A. The Chief Office of the Gestapo in Hamburg. I do not know the name, I did not make the call myself, but had my assistant Ministerialrat Dr. Boettger do so.

Q. So that the Gestapo would release persons upon the request of Hermann Goering?

A. Not from Hermann Goering's office, but the Reichsmarshal gave instructions that it should be carried out, and it was carried out.

Q. I thought you said your assistant called up. Did Goering also call the Gestapo himself?

A. No, he did not call himself, not in this case.

Q. So that even though this man may have been guilty of the charge, if he belonged to the Luftwaffe he was released, on the word of the Reichsmarshal?

A. He was not a member of the Luftwaffe, he was a civilian. He had previously been one of our comrades in the Richthofen Squadron. He was not in the Wehrmacht during the war.

Q. But your instructions were to release all persons who were Jews or who were from the Luftwaffe? Were those your instructions from Goering?

A. The Reichsmarshal told me, again and again, that in such cases I should act humanely, and I did so in every case.

Q. How did you find out that Jews were arrested against whom there were no charges?

A. In one case, in the case of the two Ballin families in Munich. These were two elderly married couples, more than seventy years old. These two couples were to

[Page 237]

be arrested, and I was informed of this. I told the Reichsmarshal about it, and he told me that these two couples should be taken to a foreign country.

That was the case of the two Ballin couples who in 1923, when Hermann Goering was seriously wounded in front of the Feldherrnhalle, and was taking refuge in a house, received him and gave him help. These two families were to be arrested.

Q. For what?

A. They were to be arrested because there was a general order that Jews should be taken to collection camps.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.