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 11 of 12)

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

[Page 300]

Q. Was there a conference in Berlin on the morning of Saturday, the 25th of March, about this escape?

A. I cannot remember.

Q. Did not Goering speak to you about that conference?

A. I have no recollection.

Q. Did Goering never tell you that there was a conference between Hitler, Himmler, himself, and Keitel on that Saturday morning?

A. No. I do not know anything about that. I do not remember.

Q. At which the order for the murder of these recaptured prisoners of war was given?

A. I cannot remember. According to what I heard later, the circumstances were entirely different. About this I got information from the previously mentioned General Westhoff, and also from General Bodenschatz.

Q. General Westhoff we are going to see here as a witness. He has made a statement about the matter, saying ...

A. I beg your pardon. I could not hear you just now. The German is coming through very weakly. I can hear you, but not the German transmission.

Q. General Westhoff -

A. Yes.

Q. - has made a statement -

A. Yes.

Q. - and we are going to see him as a witness.

A. Yes.

Q. So perhaps I had better not put his statement to you, because he is going to give evidence. Perhaps that would be fairer from the point of view of the defence. But are you suggesting that action against these officers, if they were murdered - to use your words - having escaped from an Air Force camp, could have been taken without the knowledge of Goering?

A. I consider it quite possible in view of the great confusion existing in the highest circle at that time.

Q. Great confusion in March 1944?

A. All through there was terrible confusion.

Q. But it is quite clear . . .?

A. Hitler interfered in all matters, and himself gave orders over the heads of the Chiefs of the Wehrmacht.

Q. But did you never discuss this matter with Goering at all?

A. No. I cannot remember ever speaking to Goering about this question.

Q. Do you not think this is a matter which reflects shame on the armed forces of Germany?

A. Yes, that is a great shame.

Q. Yet Goering never spoke to you about it at all? Did you ever speak to Keitel?

A. I could not say. During that time I hardly ever saw Goering.

Q. Did you ever speak to Keitel about it?

A. No, never. I saw even less of Keitel than of Goering.

Q. Was there not a General Foster or Foerster at the Air Ministry?

A. Yes, there was.

Q. General Foerster?

A. Yes.

Q. Was he director of operations?

A. No. He was chief of the "Luftwehr" and as such he had to deal with replacements of personnel and he worked with the departments concerned, with the General Staff, and also the Reichsmarshal. During the war he was also in

[Page 301]

charge of civil aviation, and in such capacity he worked together with me, but during the war it was a very small job.

Q. I was going to ask you, did he ever mention this shooting to you?

A. I have been asked that before, but try as I may I cannot remember. It is possible that in the course of conversation he may have told me that officers had been shot, but whether he did so and if, and in what sense, under what circumstances, I cannot recollect. I did not receive an official report from him, I had no right to ask for one either.

Q. If Foerster told you, did you ever report it to Goering?

A. I cannot remember a conversation with Foerster, I do not think I spoke to him. He did not give me a report either which I should have had to pass on to Goering, but such a report would have been given by him to Goering directly and much more quickly.

Q. Did you take any steps to prevent this shooting from being carried out?

A. When I first heard about it, it was not clear to me what had actually happened, but even if it had been clear, it was evident from what Westhoff told me that it would unfortunately have been too late.

Q. Why too late?

A. Because Westhoff was the first officer to get knowledge of it. When he was informed he was told that the order had already been carried out. I may say that General Westhoff has made this statement and will confirm it.

Q. Very well, you never went to Goering at all in the matter, as you say?

A. I do not know anything about it.

Q. Now I am going to deal further with three short points. With regard to the use of labour for the armament industry, Mr. Justice Jackson has asked you questions on that. Was labour from concentration camps used?

A. Yes.

Q. Would you just look at Document 1584-PS: that is, Shorthand Note 1357, 12th of December, in the afternoon.

Is that a teletype from Goering to Himmler, dated 14th February, 1944? There are various code numbers; then, to Reichsfuehrer SS; that was Himmler, Reichsminister Himmler. Who actually sent that teletype? It is signed by Goering, but he would not be dealing with questions of labour, would he?

A. I could not say, I could not say from whom it originated.

Q. That was a subject with which you dealt, was it not, the provision of labour for air armament?

A. Only while I had to do with air armament did I send demands for labour to the respective offices. But this teletype did not come from my office.

Q. If it did not come from your office, whose office did it come from?

A. It deals with various matters, there is first the question of another squadron.

Q. Please answer the question, whose office did it come from?

A. I cannot say that off-hand.

Q. Very well.

A. I do not know it.

Q. Second sentence:-

"At the same time I request that a substantial number of concentration camp prisoners be put at my disposal for air armament, as this kind of labour has proved to be very useful."
You had frequently used concentration camp labour, had you?

A. Latterly, yes. May I ask is the teletype dated the 15th and what is the month?

Q. Yes, I told you, witness, 14th February, 1944. It is on the top.

A. Yes, I could not read it here.

Q. No, I quite understand. And did Himmler respond by providing you with 90,000 further concentration camp prisoners? I refer to Document

[Page 302]

1584-PS (3), dated 9th March, 1944. It is to the "Most honoured Reichsmarshal" from Heinrich Himmler. It says:-
"At present approximately 36,000 prisoners are employed for the Air Force. It is proposed to bring the number up to 90,000."
Then he refers in the last paragraph:-
"The transfer of aircraft manufacturing plants underground requires a further 100,000 prisoners."
Now, those were concentration camp internees, witness?

A. Yes, I see this from the letter.

Q. You said you were almost ignorant of the conditions in concentration camps?

A. No, I do not know anything about that.

Q. You have not seen the films taken when the camps were captured?

A. No.

Q. The grim contrast - just wait a moment - the grim contrast between the plump and well-fed guards and civilians and the skeletons of the internees?

A. I have not seen the film but I saw photographs when I was in England.

Q. Did you close your eyes deliberately to what was going on in Germany?

A. No, it was not possible for us to see it.

Q. You, in your position, could not know what was going on?

A. It was absolutely impossible.

Q. Now then, I just want to deal very shortly with a matter upon which Mr. Justice Jackson touched but he did not read the letter. That is the question of the experiments for the purpose of Air Force research. I am anxious to refer to as few documents as possible but I can give the reference.

Do you know that on 15th May, 1941, and the reference is Shorthand Note 1848, Document 1602-PS, that Dr. Rascher wrote to Himmler?

A. I do not know him. I think I mentioned this during my interrogation.

Q. He had very dangerous experiments to make for which no human being would volunteer; monkeys were not suitable, so he asked for human subjects which Himmler at once provided; he said he would be glad to provide human subjects for the experiment. Now, that was in 1941. Did you know that was taking place?

A. No, I did not know anything about that.

Q. Now, Rascher was ...

A. I did not know Rascher personally.

Q. He was a doctor on the staff of the Air Force.

THE PRESIDENT: But, Mr. Roberts, this is not a letter to this witness, is it?

MR. ROBERTS: My Lord, I am leading up to it. The next letter is a letter signed by this witness. That was preliminary. Perhaps I had better come to the letter which he signed now, I am much obliged.

Q. I want to put to you now Document 343-PS and I also want to put to you, if the officer in charge of the documents would be so good, I want to put to you Document 607-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Roberts, he has already been cross- examined upon this letter, has he not?

MR. ROBERTS: I did not think the letter was read, or was dealt with sufficiently. I believe your Lordship thinks it was.

THE PRESIDENT: The letter was put to him. I do not know whether it was actually read.

MR. ROBERTS: I shall be guided by the Tribunal entirely. I know the matter was touched upon. I felt perhaps the letter should be read but I may be quite wrong.

[Page 303]

THE PRESIDENT I am told it was not read but the two letters were put to him.

MR. ROBERTS: I agree.

If your Lordship would be good enough to bear with me for a very few minutes I can perhaps deal with the matters I think should be dealt with.

Q. You will see that on the 20th of May, 1942 - this is your letter to "Wolffy," is it not, that is ObergruppenFuehrer Wolff, and that is signed by you is it not?

A. Yes, I signed it. That is the letter which, as I said this morning, was submitted to me by the Medical Inspectorate and from which it appears that we wanted to dissociate ourselves from the whole business as politely as possible.

Q. The point of the letter is, if I may summarize, it, that you say:

"In reference to your telegram of May 12th, our Medical Inspectorate ..."
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Roberts, if I remember right, when these letters were put to the witness he said he had not read them; that he signed them without reading them.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, my Lord, perhaps I had better leave the matter if your Lordship thinks I am going over ground which has been trodden too often.

Q. Are you asking this Tribunal to believe that you signed these two letters to Wolff, who was liaison officer - was he not - between - who was Wolff?

A. No, Wolff was not liaison officer, he was Himmler's adjutant. He sent a telegram to us apparently for the attention of the Medical Inspectorate. The Medical Inspectorate replied via my office because for some reason or other it did not appear expedient to reply direct. I stated in my interrogations that these letters though signed by me were not dictated in my office, but that for this reply from the Medical Inspectorate my stationery was used as was customary. I had nothing to do either with our high altitude experiments or with the Medical Inspectorate, nor was I in any way connected with experiments by the SS.

Q. Did you know that these pressure chamber experiments were being carried out with human bodies, human souls, provided by Dachau?

A. On whom they were made appears from the letter submitted to me by the Medical Inspectorate. In the Air Force we made many experiments with our own medical officers who volunteered for it, and as we did it with our own people we considered it to be our own affair. We, therefore, did not want any experiments by the SS, we were not interested in them. We had for a very long time experimented with our own people, we did not need the SS who interfered in a matter which did not concern them, and we could never understand why the SS meddled with this matter.

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