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 5 of 9)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of General von Bodenschatz]

[Page 240]

Q. Was M. Dahlerus there?

A. The question as to whether Dahlerus was there? I cannot remember exactly if he was there; I only knew that when I spoke with my lawyer he said that Dahlerus was there, but I cannot swear that he was there. I assumed he was, since the, defence counsel, Dr. Stahmer, told me that he was there, that was the

[Page 241]

reason why I said previously that Hermann Goering and Dahlerus were present at that meeting.

Q. And the subject under discussion was the Polish relations with the German Reich?

A. Polish relations were not discussed, but relations between England and Germany. There was no talk of relations with Poland.

Q. And Goering wanted the English gentlemen to see that England did not attack Germany?

A. He did not express it quite that way. He said, as I have already stated, the English gentlemen should, when they return home, work in the same way that he was working, for peace, and to make their influence felt in important circles.

Q. Now, was not that said in connection with the Polish negotiations that were then going on?

A. With the Polish negotiations? I cannot remember that any mention was made of Polish negotiations.

Q. Were you with Hermann Goering when the Polish war broke out?

A. When the Polish war broke out I was in Berlin.

Q. Were you still in your office under Hermann Goering's command?

A. Yes, I was at that time under Hermann Goering's command.

Q. When did you first begin preparing for a movement of your forces in the direction of Poland?

A. I cannot make any definite statement on that subject; that was a matter for the General Staff. I only know that during the period before the outbreak of war the Chief of the General Staff several times visited the Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, and that many matters were discussed. I myself was not informed as to what forces were to be used in the Polish campaign.

Q. Were you present at the conference in which Hermann Goering stated that he, directly after Munich, had orders to multiply the air force by five?

A. I cannot recall having been present at any such discussion.

Q. You know that the air force was greatly enlarged after Munich?

A. No, I do not know that. The Luftwaffe was augmented according to plan. In this connection I can say for certain that the German Luftwaffe, at the beginning of the Polish campaign, as regards leadership, planning or material was not equal to its task.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Justice Jackson, would you like to adjourn now or would you like to go on in order to finish?

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: This would be a convenient time, I am sure we cannot finish before the lunch hour.

THE PRESIDENT: You would like to adjourn now?



(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

THE PRESIDENT: We will have no open session tomorrow.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I want to say a few words with respect to the subject of defence. The defence referred to a document this morning, saying that it did not have the document with regard to Katyn. I want to report that on 13th February of this year this document, Exhibit USSR 54, consisting of thirty copies, all in the German language, was given to the document room for purposes of the defence. We did not think that we had to present the document to each attorney for the defence separately. We considered that if the document division received the document, the attorneys for the defence would receive the copies.

This is all I want to report here.

[Page 242]

DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the OKW): There must be a misunderstanding about the number of this document: It was submitted at that time, in open session, by the Russian prosecutor as Exhibit USSR 64. USSR 64 has not been distributed. I have not received it, and upon request at the Information Centre of the defendant's counsel, upon two requests, I have not been able to obtain it.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we will inquire into the matter.

GENERAL KARL VON BODENSCHATZ resumed the stand and testified further as follows:-



Q. Previous to the spring of 1943, as I understand you, Hermann Goering was a man of great influence in the counsels of the Reich?

A. Before the year 1943 - i-e., until the year 1943, Hermann Goering always had access to the Fuehrer and his influence was important.

Q. In fact, his was the most important influence in Germany, outside of the Fuehrer himself, was it not?

A. Within the Reich he had great influence, very great influence.

Q. Air power was his special mission and his special pride, was it not?

A. He was, as an old flier, very proud to be able to build up and lead the Air Force.

Q. He had more confidence in air power as a weapon of war than most of the other men of his time, had he not?

A. At any rate, he was convinced that his Air Force was very good; but I have to repeat what I said before: At the beginning of the war, in the year 1939, this stage had not been reached by the Air Force. I repeat that at that time the Air Force was, as far as leadership, training and material were concerned, not ready for war.

Q. But ever since you first went with Hermann Goering you had been rapidly building up the Air Force, had you not?

A. The building up of the Air Force went relatively fast.

Q. And when you first went with Goering - I have forgotten what year you said that was.

A. I came to Hermann Goering in 1933. At that time there was no Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, but only a Reich Commissariat for Aviation. But even at that time tthe beginning of the building up of the Air Force - the first beginnings - started. But it was only after 1935 when the freedom from armament restriction was declared, that it was speeded up.

Q. And the building up of the Air Force was very largely in bombers, was it not?

A. It was not bombers in the main; it was mixed - both fighters and bombers.

Q. Goering also had charge of the Four Year Plan?A. He was commissioned by the Fuehrer to carry out the Four Year Plan.

Q. He also held several other offices, did he not?

A. Hermann Goering, besides being Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, was commissioned with the Four Year Plan. Before that, at the beginning of the seizure of power, he was Minister of the Interior and Prime Minister of Prussia, President of the Reichstag and Reich Forestry Minister.

Q. I notice that you use here, as you have used in your interrogations by the United States, the expression "seizure of power". That was the common expression used in your group, was it not, to describe the coming to power of Adolf Hitler?

[Page 243]

A. It cannot be used in this sense. At that time it was completely legal, because the National Socialist Party was then the strongest party, and the strongest party nominated the Reich Chancellor and had the greatest influence. It must not be interpreted to mean that they usurped the power, but that they had the most influential and prominent position among the parties, that is, by the completely legal means of election.

Q. You want to change the word "seizure"?

A. I have to change that. It is only an expression which was common usage in the Press at that time.

Q. Goering got along without any open break with Hitler until 1945, did he not?

A. Until the year 1945 there was no open break. It was only at the end, as I have said before, the arrest.

Q. But the arrest was the first open break that had occurred between them, was it not?

A. Yes, the first big break between the two which was apparent to the public. But since the year 1943, as I have said before, there was already a gradual estrangement in the attitude of the two men.

Q. But that was kept from the public, was it not kept from the German people?

A. It was not so visible to the public. It was a development which took place gradually from the spring of 1943 to the year 1945 - first to a small extent, and then the tension became greater and greater.

Q. When the arrest was made it was made by the SS, was it not?

A. I have only heard of it; it was said that in the Obersalzberg a unit of SS had arrived which arrested Hermann Goering in his small house and confined him there. As to that, perhaps the witness who is going to testify later, Colonel Brauchitsch, who was present at this arrest and who was arrested himself, can give more details.

Q. You were not arrested by the SS?

A. At that time, since the 20th of July, 1944, when I was seriously injured, I had been in hospital, close to Berchtesgaden, at Bad Reichenhall in convalescence.

Q. Whenever there were conferences which you attended, was it not the custom, at the conclusion of Hitler's address to the group, for Goering, as the senior man present, to assure the Fuehrer on behalf of himself and his fellow officers of their support of his plans?

A. Of course, I was not present at all conferences. I only took the part of listener. At these discussions, or shall we say, conferences, in which I took part, it happened from time to time that the Reichsmarshal made a remark at the end and gave assurance that the will of the Fuehrer would be carried out. But at the moment I cannot remember specifically any such conference.

Q. You cannot remember any conference at which he did not do it either, can you?

A. Yes, it was not always done. On the contrary, he did not do that as a rule. In the Reichstag Hermann Goering always made a concluding speech, after a session had ended, expressing his confidence in Adolf Hitler.

Q. And did he not do that at every meeting of officers at which the Fuehrer was present?

A. I would ask you to repeat the question. I have not quite understood it. I beg you to excuse me, but I would like to mention that, due to my injury, I have lost sixty per cent of my hearing, and therefore I beg you to excuse me if I ask for repetitions. Please, repeat your question.

Q. Quite all right, sir. Do you know of any conference between Hitler and his High Command at which Goering did not close the meeting, as the senior officer present, by making assurances of support to Hitler's plans?

A. Some of the conferences I attended were concluded by a declaration of that nature. There were, however, many conferences - in fact at most of the

[Page 244]

conferences nothing further was said at the end; when the Fuehrer had finished his speech the meeting was ended.

Q. In 1943, when Goering began to lose influence with Hitler it was a very embarrassing time for Goering, was it not?

A. Hermann Goering suffered from this fact. He often told me that he would suffer very much on that account.

Q. From the fact that the Fuehrer was losing confidence in him?

A. What was that?

Q. He was suffering from the fact that the Fuehrer was losing confidence in him? Was that what was causing his suffering?

A. That may have been part of the reason, but differences of opinion arose about the Luftwaffe.

Q. Now, in the spring of 1943, it was apparent to you and apparent to him that the war was lost for Germany, was it not?

A. I cannot say that. The Reichsmarshal did not make a statement to me in 1943 that the war was lost, but that there were great difficulties, that it would become very dangerous; but that the war was definitely lost - I cannot remember that the Reichsmarshal at that time, in the spring of 1943, made a statement of that kind, or a similar one, to me.

Q. The Reichsmarshal had given his assurance to the German people, had he not, that it would not be possible for them to be bombed, as Warsaw, Rotterdam, and other cities were bombed?

A. So far as I know, he did not give the assurance in these words. Before the war, when our Air Force was growing, I mean at the beginning of the war, when the great successes in Poland and in France were manifest, he said to the German people that the Air Force would do its job and do everything to spare the country from heavy air raids. At that time this was justified and it was not clearly foreseen that matters would develop otherwise, later.

Q. Then he had given his assurance to the German people, had he not, that the Luftwaffe would be able to keep enemy bombers away from Germany?

A. I cannot remember that he gave an official assurance to the German people in the form of a decree or of a big speech. At times it was said that the German Air Force, after the successes in Poland and France, was at its peak. I do not know of any statement whereby it was made known to the German people.

Q. At all events, it became apparent in the spring of 1943, that any such assurance, if it had been given, was misleading?

A. In the year 1943 the conditions were entirely different, due to the fact that the British and American Air Forces came into the picture in such large and overwhelming numbers.

Q. And it was also true that the air defences of Germany were proving entirely inadequate to cope with the situation: is that not a fact?

A. The air defence of Germany was very difficult, since the entire defence did not depend on the air crews alone, but it was also a radio-technical war, and in this radio-technical war, it must be admitted frankly, the enemy was essentially better off than we were. Therefore it was not only a war in the air, but it was also a radio war.

Q. It had become apparent that Germany could not cope with it, is that not a fact, by 1943?

A. In the year 1943, it was not yet completely clear. There were fluctuations, low and high points. Efforts were made to increase the fighter strength at the expense of the bombers. It was not altogether obvious that the enemy Air Force could not be opposed successfully. That only became obvious after the middle of 1944.

Q. The Fuehrer lost confidence in Goering as the bombing of German cities progressed, did he not?

[Page 245]

A. Yes, indeed, from the moment the British Air Force started with their large-scale attacks on German cities, specifically when the first heavy British air attack on Cologne took place. From that moment it was obvious that differences of opinion were arising between the two gentlemen, which, at first, were not too serious.

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