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-Eighth Day: Monday, 11th March, 1946
(Part 6 of 12)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of General Field-Marshal Milch]

[Page 280]

Q. I understood you to testify in your interrogation that even the generals did not dare to utter an opinion after those two left.

A. No, I never put it like that. I cannot remember what I said. I should be grateful if I could see the minutes.

Q. Well, I have them. I will ask you if you were not asked these questions and gave these answers.

"Q. From your knowledge of discussions in army circles among the Air Force and the General Staff people, whom you knew, could you form any opinion as to their attitude regarding the danger of war? Would they share your view?"
The minutes show that you answered:
"All officers agreed with me unanimously. All the higher officers agreed with me. A long time ago, in 1937, 1 talked to Field-Marshal von Blomberg about the danger of a war because the careless policy of our statesmen. At that time we feared that England or France would not tolerate that policy in the long run. On 1st November, 1937, I had a long discussion with von Blomberg about this matter, and he was of the same opinion."
A. Yes, I remember.

[Page 281]

Q. That is true? You were then asked this question:-
"Is it true that after General Fritsch and General Beck left their offices, the positions in the Army were subordinated to the political personalities?"
A. No, they had always been subordinate. The Army was always subordinate to the Fuehrer, and formerly to the Reich- President. Nothing was changed in this respect. The Head of the State was at the same time the Supreme Commander.

Q. At the time you were interrogated, your answer was this:

"Yes, because Hitler took over personally the Supreme Command of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. That was the position that was held by von Blomberg before. Blomberg was in a position to resist Hitler, and he had done so very often, and Hitler respected him and listened to his advice. Blomberg was the only elderly soldier who was clever enough to reconcile military and political questions. This resistance ..."
A. Yes, this was my conviction.


"This resistance could not be kept up by the men around Hitler later on. They were too weak for that. That is probably why he chose them."
Is that true?

A. That is my opinion.

Q. Question:

"Did the generals with whom you associated not feet even before 1939 that the course of action which was being taken by Hitler could be likely to result in a war?"
"Those who were able to think in foreign political terms, yes; but they had to be very cautious about it, because they could not utter any opinion; they dared not utter any opinion."
Is that right?

A. Correct.

Q. And of what were the generals in command of the Army afraid, that they did not utter an opinion?

A. The generals would not have had a chance to report anything to Hitler.

Q. Who would have done anything about it? There were many generals and, only one Hitler. Who was going to carry out any orders against them?

A. It just was not possible. Hitler was so powerful that he just turned down other people's objections or else refused to listen to them at all.

Q. And Hitler had the SS, had he not, and Himmler and Kaltenbrunner?

A. Yes, he had them as well. In addition, he had the entire Wehrmacht who had sworn an oath of allegiance to him.

Q. I think you said in your interrogation that after 5th March, 1943, Hitler was no longer normal. Did you make that statement?

A. I said that, in my opinion, the Hitler of the later years was not the Hitler of the early period from 1933 until the outbreak of war, and that after the campaign against France, a change came over him. I formed this opinion, which was a purely private one, because what he did afterwards was diametrically opposed to what he had previously taught; and that I could not consider normal.

Q. And you want us to understand that Goering continued to act as second man in the Reich and to take the orders from an abnormal man from that period on? Is that your story?

A. The abnormality was not such that one could say: "this man is out of his senses," or "this man is insane;" it would not have to reach that stage. It often happens that abnormalities are such that they are not noticed by the public nor nearest associates. I believe that a doctor would be better able to give information on that subject. I talked to medical men about it at the time.

Q. And it was their opinion, that he was abnormal?

[Page 282]

A. That there was a possibility of abnormality was admitted by a doctor whom I knew well, personally.

Q. A doctor of repute in Germany?

A. No, he is not very well known. He never told anybody else. It would not have been wise to do so.

Q. If he had, he would have been put in a concentration camp, I suppose?

A. Or worse.

Q. And if you had expressed your opinion that he was abnormal, you probably would have been put there also, would you not?

A. I would have been shot immediately.

Q. So you never dared to tell your superior, Goering, your opinion about Hitler?

A. I only once had an opportunity of stating my views about the war to Hitler. That was the only time.

Q. You informed Goering of your opinion?

A. I talked to Goering. What I have just mentioned was a conversation I had with Hitler.

Q. Well, you do not - I think you misunderstood me. You do not mean that you informed Hitler that you considered him abnormal; I am sure you do not mean that.

A. No, I did not tell that to Goering either.

Q. That is what I said. You knew, did you not, that Goering, who was your immediate superior, was issuing the anti-Jewish decrees of the Reich Government?

A. No, I did not know that. As far as I know, they emanated from a different office, from...

Q. Did you not know that the decrees which excluded Jews and half-Jews from holding posts were issued by Goering?

A. No, I did not know that. As far as I know, these regulations emanated from the Ministry of the Interior, which also would have been the proper department to deal with them.

Q. As a matter of fact, did you not have to take certain proceedings to avoid the effect of those decrees yourself?

A. No. I know what you mean. That was a question that had been cleared long ago.

Q. How long before that was it cleared?

A. As far as I know, in 1933.

Q. Nineteen thirty-three, just after the Nazis came to power?

A. Yes.

Q. And at that time Goering had you - we will have no misunderstanding about this - Goering made you what you call a full Aryan; was that it?

A. I do not think he made me one; I was one.

Q. Well, he had it established, let us say?

A. He had helped me in clearing up this question, which was not clear.

Q. That is, your mother's husband was a Jew; is that correct?

A. That is not quite correct.

Q. You had to demonstrate that none of your ancestry was Jewish; is that correct?

A. Yes; everybody had to do that.

Q. And in your case that involved your father, your alleged father; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And you certainly were informed from the very beginning of the attitude of the Nazi Party to Jews, were you not?

A. No, I was not informed; everybody had to submit his papers, and the certificate of one of my grandparents could not be found.

Q. And you were never required to do that under the Weimar Republic?

A. No, there was no such question at that time.

[Page 283]

Q. And you knew that this whole question was raised by the Nazi Party, of which you became a member in 1933 in other words, at about the time this happened. Is that right?

A. I had applied for membership earlier, before this question came up.

Q. When did you apply for membership?

A. I cannot say exactly, but I believe in March or April.

Q. And you had to clear up this question before you could become a member; was that not the point?

A. That had been cleared up in the meantime. I cannot say exactly when.

Q. In 1933 you became aware of the concentration camp, the first one?

A, Yes, I believe in 1933 there was a public announcement about it.

Q. And later, as I understand you, you heard so many rumours about concentration camps, that you thought the matter ought to be investigated; that you ought to go there and see?

A. Yes.

Q. When was it that these rumours became so persistent that you thought the matter should be investigated?

A. That must have been at the end of 1934 and in the spring of 1935, because if I remember correctly, I was in Dachau in the spring of 1935.

Q. And those rumours persisted throughout the entire period until the collapse of Germany, did they not?

A. Those rumours, which led me to ask to visit Dachau were really only current in the circle of the higher officers, who passed them on to me. I had little contact with other circles. I cannot say to what extent the thing was generally discussed.

Q. Well, among the higher officers with whom you associated, the rumour went about that these concentration camps were the scene of atrocities as early as 1935. I understood you to say that; am I correct?

A. No, not exactly. I said there ...

Q. Well, now you tell us what it was that you went to investigate.

A. I was quite unable to conduct any investigation; all I could do was to see for myself - in order to dispel the many rumours - whether it was true that many people were shut up there, who should not have been there at all, innocent people, who were brought there for political reasons only. At that time there was much talk about many members of the so-called "Reaction" having been sent there. Some officers were very concerned about this, and I told them that I would go and see for myself to try to gain a personal insight.

Q. You did not need to go to Dachau to find that out, did you? You could have asked Goering; did you not know that?

A. To go where?

Q. Did you ever ask Goering who these people were who were sent there?

A. No. I did not talk to Goering about that.

Q. Did you not know that Goering publicly said that political enemies of the regime were going to be sent there; that was what they were founded for; did you know that?

A. I cannot say I ever heard that that had actually been said, but that was what I surmised at the time, and I wanted to see for myself.

Q. And you found nobody there except criminals?

A. All that I was shown were people who had committed crimes, or rather serious offences. The only political prisoners I saw were people who had taken part in the Roehm Putsch; whether there were others, I am unable to say, because I cannot swear that I saw the entire camp. But we saw all we asked to see. We said: "Now I would like to see this and this" - and the guide took us there.

Q. By whose authority did you get into the concentration camp for an examination?

A. Himmler's.

[Page 284]

Q. Who asked Himmler if you could go?

A. I do not understand.

Q. Did Goering know that you were making the trip?

A. I do not think so. I did not make a special trip. I had some business in Southern Germany in my military capacity, and I set aside one morning for this purpose.

Q. There were people in the concentration camp who had to do with the Roehm Putsch, as you call it?

A. Yes.

Q. How many were there who had to do with that?

A. I cannot say exactly. A far as I remember now, I should say that altogether I saw about four to five hundred people.

Q. Four to five hundred people, and how many were killed?

A. Well, I could not be too sure about this figure, there might easily have been seven hundred. I estimate it at around that figure.

Q. How many people were killed in the Roehm Putsch?

A. I can only give the figure which Hitler publicly stated in the Reichstag; I cannot say from memory. I may be right if I say the number ranged between one and two hundred.

Q. Now why were you so concerned about the concentration camps? Did you have any official responsibility for them?

A. No, I had no responsibility whatsoever; but there was so much talk about them at the time that I decided I would find out for myself. I knew how many questions would be asked me, and I would not be able to answer them, so I said I would go there and see for myself.

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